You Have More Courage Than You Realize


13. Chapter 8

There are a large variety of spiders in Africa and all of them are quite scary. One weekend my wife had a close encounter with one of those large spiders – it was at least as large as a saucer.

She was home alone with our two toddler children in our tiny house located about 11 miles into the bush from Lusaka, Zambia. She was more than alone as I was out of town and she had no vehicle, no telephone, no electricity and she was about a quarter of a mile from the nearest neighbor with no streetlights and no paved roads.

In the late afternoon she noticed a large spider dashing between the rafters of our unfinished cement-block house that had a roof but no ceiling. As daylight quickly vanished, she tried to reach the spider to kill it, but it hid in the shadows between the rafters and the roof.

After sunset she lit a candle, prepared our two children for bed, and read them several bedtime stories until they nodded off to sleep, while being very much aware of her unwelcome guest hiding somewhere above her.

She tucked the children in then moved cautiously through the shadows of the house into our bedroom to prepare herself for bed. Before going to bed she took one more peek into the children’s room and found them safe and fast asleep. Relieved, she returned to the bedroom and set down her candle on the small table at the side of the bed.

Before blowing out the candle she glanced nervously around the dimly lit room and breathed a silent prayer for the soon arrival of two things: courage and daylight. She knew there was a large ugly spider somewhere in her house and there was nothing she could do to find it or kill it or chase it off. So she blew out her candle, laid her head down on the pillow, and soon, in the remote darkness of the African night, she went to sleep. That’s courage.

Someone once said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”*

You do not know what kind of courage you have deep within your soul until you face a situation that calls it forth. I believe most of us have far more courage than we may have exhibited to date.

Sure you’ve seen yourself fail the courage test from time to time. You have kept silent when you should have spoken up, or you succumbed to peer-pressure when you should have walked away, or you ran and hid when you should have stood and fought.

But do not let your present fears or your past failures determine the level of courage you are really capable of displaying. You’re something special. You too can face with courage the saucer-sized spiders of your own daily life.

*Dorothy Bernard


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