Fear is a Feeling. Courage is a Choice.
Fear is a normal emotional reaction to threat or danger. It can be sudden and surprising in its intensity. Or it can be sneaky, almost hidden, and equally unsettling in its power.
We don’t choose our emotions—at least, not at the time they come to us. But we can choose our response to them, and our habits of that choice will invite some emotions more than others into our lives over time.
What we choose in the face of fear will shape how we then think and act. It will also form what we become. Aristotle believed that there are three possible reactions in the presence of a threat or recognized danger. There is an extreme of “too little” in the realm of spiritual response and one of a “too much,” and finally a “just right.” The too little in the face of fear is cowardice. The too much is a crazy carelessness. The “just right” is courage.
Fear is natural. It can be helpful and even necessary at times and stages and places in our lives. But it’s never our best and highest guide. Wisdom is. And it counsels courage in all things. It never recommends cowardice or carelessness. It advises sensible caution and bold bravery in precisely the balance that only it can suggest.
As we grow in wisdom, we grow in prudence and in courage in the proper inner weave. The only other path is one on which fear unhinges us in one way or another, so that it rules and ruins our life, leaving us impoverished in spirit and full of regret, and worst of all, without the joy of the song we’re here to sing.