That one word evokes some strong feelings. It makes us think about things. While most people don’t consider it a judgment, they use the word to judge others. Questions like “Exactly how is that courageous?” have people second guessing themselves.

I think about the people in my life. Courage is parents sitting beside their daughter who was in a head on collision with a semi-truck, not knowing what each day will bring. Courage can be found amongst my friends living with rare, disabling diseases including gastroparesis and Ehler-Danlos Syndrome. Courage is walking out of a doctor’s office and facing the world even though you’ve been dealt another blow.

Courage is with those taking one minute of life at a time as the learn to live with mental illness. For too long, society has hidden how much courage it takes to keep moving forward when every fiber of your being is screaming “enough!” Courage is talking about your own mental illness so you can help others. Courage is standing with those who are living with mental illness and supporting their journey.

Courage is being there for the youth in your life. It is 3AM wake up calls because a diabetic monitor went off. It is taking in a  youth who needs guidance, yet is unable to turn anywhere but to you. Courage is raising a child to see that they are priceless, even when others have written them off. Courage is accepting that different is not less. Courage is biting back the tears as your child is bullied yet again. Courage is building a helping village, brick by brick, knowing that not everyone will understand.

Courage is picking yourself up after being knocked over. It is seeing your own value and not allowing others to take that from you. Courage is continuing to improve yourself, even when you feel like you are as good as you can possibly get. Courage is recognizing that change is part of growth, no matter how painful.

Courage is helping your fellow humans reach their potential. It is being sensitive to the fact that different is not less. It is understanding that words hurt and should be used with care. Courage is being willing to help instead of shying away. Courage is compassion.

Let courage take root in your life. See the possibilities of being courageous. Consider all that you personally are living with and recognize that others have things going on in their lives to. Reach out. Be courageous and step out of your comfort zone. I think you will be amazed at what you discover.

Casting Stones

Today’s news feed brought many stories. The doctor working in Sierra Leone who was transported to Nebraska for Ebola treatment died. Three cases of child abuse/neglect made my local news. The beating death of an Army¬†veteran in North Carolina. Preparations in Ferguson and surrounding areas for riots. A homicide in the south end of my city with the shooter still at large. Posts about diabetes for awareness. And many, many posts about gift ideas.

The commentary on these stories is equally telling as to why they are news. The fear mongers are calling for sealing our borders to keep Ebola out. One even pointed out that the two people who died were black while the two who lived were “of lighter hue.” The comments about the children were along the lines of “poor babies, praying for them.” The Army veteran? He met the guy who beat him in a bar and some are now saying the vet should never have been in that bar. Ferguson? Those people have a right to protest injustice by destroying other people’s lives.The homicide victim? I expect that to pass fairly quickly because of how my city copes, as in not in my backyard. I’m glad to see the awareness posts. The gift posts make me sad after reading everything else.

There’s one gift I’d love to see everyone receive this year. The gift of compassion. I want everyone to experience compassion so they can share compassion. The doctor? He went to Africa to save lives, knowing he himself could die. The children? What a difference it could have made if people stopped saying “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” and started offering to come do laundry instead. If we as a society could stop demonizing behaviors that don’t meet our personal moral standards, I feel we would be better off.

Instead of casting stones, why don’t we spread compassion? Why is it so important to judge other people? I guess it makes some people feel better, but at what cost? We are slowing losing one of the things that makes us awesome human beings.

Your challenge: As you read or watch your local news, think about your reaction to the stories. Realize that you may be judging people based on a few snippets of information. Now, think about you can spread compassion if the topic comes up in your life. You don’t have to agree with the actions of an individual to recognize that each person deserves compassion.