I can’t stop looking at this picture.
It’s more than just a great memory or moment. It does more than just make me smile or fill me with joy. It reminds me to take risks, to do things that scare me. It reminds me to be brave.
It reminds me that our courage is contagious.
A few days ago, my family came back from a vacation to Disney World. We ate way too much food, walked way too many steps, and let the kids skip one too many naps, and it was completely worth it. Who wouldn’t love those kind of days—staying out late, watching fireworks, riding ride after ride after ride.
My oldest niece is five years old and was finally tall enough for a few more rides. I’m not claiming that Disney World has real roller coasters. I completely understand that they cater to families and kids, but for my niece, some of these rides were intense. They were unknown and unfamiliar in every way. She asked us over and over again if they were scary, if they were just pretend, if they were outside or inside. Without fail, every time we went on a new ride, I could feel her excitement and fear as we stood in line. It was never one or the other. It was always a mix—sometimes a little more fear than excitement, but in those moments, I realized something beautiful.
My family’s courage was contagious.
So we smiled big. We held her hand. We cheered her on. We didn’t hide the fact that we would go fast and down some big hills, but we tried to help her believe that when the cars came to a stop at the end, she would still be smiling.
That’s why I love this picture.
It was our fourth time on this particular ride, and by that point, Finley loved the ups and downs and twists and turns. We laughed and screamed together, and when I yelled, “Finley, put your arms up,” she threw them in the air without hesitation.
As silly as it might seem to those who love the kind of rides at Cedar Point or Six Flags, this was an act of deep, deep courage for my kiddo. With every new ride, she took a risk, she took a step. She chose to trust us, trust that we knew her and knew what she could handle. She trusted our own courage and caught a little bit of it herself, because courage is contagious. And when she caught even a hint of apprehension in us, we could see it on her face, because fear can be just as contagious.
And I can’t get these truths out of my head, because I see them in the world around me every day. I see them in our women at Braverly—the way they encourage each other to try new things. I see them in the way my parents lead their business together, each one catching a little bit of courage from the other.
And sometimes I see the opposite. I see how fear-based conversations in our country cause division at best. I see how our fear of the unknown cause us discredit things that seem different or risky. I see how our fear sends ripples we cannot control.
Our courage is contagious and so is our fear.Tweet
Day after day, we influence others. We inspire, or we hold back. We spark courage or fear. Our actions, our thoughts, our emotions matter, and they matter more than we realize. We can catch courage from other–courage to show up and be seen, courage to listen to those with whom we differ, courage to open our hearts and minds to ideas and perspectives, courage to create space for those with whom we disagree. Courage rather than fear, because I believe the Father is in our courage. And our culture desperately needs more of the Father’s heart.
When we cultivate courage in our own lives, we just might find ourselves standing next to someone who needs a little bit of courage themselves. And when we choose courage over fear, we’re not just making this decision for ourselves. We’re making it for our family, our community, our culture, our country.
Friend, remember that your courage is contagious.