She was sharing her heart. Her dreams. Her aspirations. Her goals for the coming year. “You know,” she breathed through the telephone, “how I always try and pick a new country every year to travel to alone . . .” she continued on, but I was stuck on her sentence. A new country? Alone? Travel alone? My mothering mind couldn’t even really comprehend the words she articulated. Alone? When was the last time I was alone? Do I even still have a passport? Did I go grocery shopping alone last week? Does volunteering in the church nursery sort of count as a foreign country?
As I rallied from my thoughts, the juxtaposition between her life and mine started me giggling. “Courtney,” I interrupted. “My life is so different from yours right now. Traveling by yourself for five days in Spain? It sounds crazy. I mean wonderful, but like I-can’t-even-wrap-my-head-around-it-crazy. Do you realize that most days I don’t even make it to the bathroom alone? ” She started giggling too.
My sister is young and talented and very brave. She stands before crowds of hundreds or thousands and makes amazing music. She goes on diplomatic missions to countries like Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates. She records music in Sweden and teaches street children in Pakistan how to play the guitar.
I am not making this up.
I have another sister that regularly hikes Colorado’s most formidable mountains, and runs 50-mile foot races, and teaches Bible studies at the homeless shelter. Or my 16-year-old sister that spent last summer loving on orphans in Africa, and is currently working multiple jobs this year so she can afford to go back as soon as possible. These are my people. My precious younger sisters that I love to brag about.
But I am going to confess. If I am unguarded, there is an opportunity to look at their lives and to look at my life and completely feel out of style. I feel like a coward. My brain turns to mush. I can find myself losing grasp of the bedrock truths that comparison is a losing game. I can look at their adventures and lose sight of the joys of this current season. I can blithely overlook the struggles of their current season. If I’m not careful, I can let comparison steal the truth that courage comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes in all sorts of different seasons.
Maybe you’ve heard those same whispered lies too.
Truth is, courage is not always based on a glittery calling. It isn’t always based on glamorous ability. It isn’t even always based on opportunity. Most of the time courage wears the drab overcoat of the mundane.
It takes courage to be content with a house that was tiny three small children ago. It takes courage to cuddle a sick baby. It takes courage to send a kindergartner off on the bus for the first time. It takes courage to love a man that holds your heart, and sometimes forgets to pick up his dirty socks. It takes courage to face dirty dishes and dirty laundry and dirty floors day in and day out and still have joy in your heart. It takes courage to potty train – you know I’m right!
I never want to discount what my sisters are doing – they are amazing. But I also don’t want to be tempted to discount my rather-more-ordinary life either.
Maybe my calling doesn’t involve exotic locales, or agonizing physical feats, or intense mission work at this moment, but my calling as a mother requires unparalleled courage. This season of life has probably required the most courage I have ever had.
So let’s be proud of ourselves, and proud of them, and proud of each other. Let’s not forget the beautiful things that can be done with mundane things or otherwise. Let’s not let comparison discount the really brave things happening right underneath our noses. Let’s be brave together – even if it looks totally different for each one of us. And let’s keep giggling over the “crazy” inspiring things our sisters do, and help cheer them on, while embracing whatever courage is wearing in our lives today.
Angela Tourney is proud to be the oldest of a great tribe of ten brothers and sisters who are each tremendously courageous in their own unique ways. She and her main squeeze, Seth, are busy raising a tribe of their own – Juliette (6), Liam (3), and Annalise (1). You can listen to her globe-trekking sister’s beautiful music at www.courtneyhartman.com.