Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears. ~Arthur Koestler
My story begins with a song of joy. “A song of joy,” you ask? Why, yes! On August 6, 1999, A Song of Joy was born in a small hospital in Zachary, Louisiana. She weighed a mere 5 pounds, 9 ounces but was by far the biggest event of my life, up to that point. We call her Carie! Today she is a vibrant young lady who brings joy and encouragement to everyone she encounters. But her beginning was not a a time of celebration, as most births are. Her beginning was filled with fear and uncertainty.
I had a smooth and uncomplicated pregnancy so when Carie was born we were surprised to find that she was three pounds below her expected weight and that I had been carrying thirty-five pounds of excess amniotic fluid. Her first thirty-six hours were filled with tests, stomach pumps and IVs as doctors and nurses tried to learn why she was unable to keep down any of her feedings. Since I was recovering from an intense, 72-hour labor and delivery, she spent much of her first day in the newborn nursery.
Around 4:00 am the morning after she was born, I woke up very suddenly and then made my way down to the nursery, scrubbed in, and went to Carie’s crib. I learned that the nurse had just pumped her stomach for the second time and started her on a IV for nutrition. They were not going to attempt any more feedings until after they did x-rays the next morning. I just sat by my tiny newborn’s bedside and cried.
The following morning, the on-call pediatrician met with me and let me know that Carie’s upper bowel had not connected to her stomach and as a result she was unable to digest food. At just 36 hours old, she would require surgery. The hospital in my home town was small and unequipped so Carie was scheduled to be transported to a hospital that had a level three NICU for newborns. So I signed the necessary papers and waited.
Scared. Alone. Waiting.
As new as my precious girl, was I to the life and experiences of a single mom. I had family nearby but they had all left for the night so we could rest. During the early morning nursery visit and the pediatric consult, I learned just how hard it was going to be walking through our experiences, just the two of us, Carie and me. I remember calling my mom around 11 that morning, but what I remember the most is the weight of fear that settled on me after I hung up the phone. I sat on the edge of the bed, in that cold, empty hospital room and cried.
As I look back on this moment in my family’s history, I wonder what it was inside of me, an 18-year old single mother, that got me through that day. I was expecting to be snuggling my perfect baby girl and instead was facing an unknown outcome in the days to come. I can only think of one answer.
Not the kind of courage you see in movies where the army heads out to face the enemy and a few hours later the battle is over, and a victor declared – boom, history is made.
No, it’s the kind of courage that you need when the only option you have is to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. It’s the courage that must override the fear in order to do what needs to be done when the question is, “How do I get through this?”
I wonder today what situation you are facing in your life that is requiring this kind of courage? What impossible situation, uncertainty, or fear is dominating your life? What mountains are in front of you that seem to difficult to overcome? Everyone’s story is different and everyone’s experiences are unique. What is not unique is that we all posses within us the ability to keep pressing forward by taking single, small steps that are filled with courage.
Whatever you are facing, don’t let your fear dictate your actions. Keep taking those forward steps of progress and eventually they will lead you to victory.