Mark: I love woodworking. It’s a hobby and a skill I’ve enjoyed my entire life. When it comes to fixing houses, I am a natural craftsman. I know what to do and I usually know what tool I need.
Jill: Mark is amazing as a handyman and builder. I usually leave the power tool responsibility to him. We’ve both, however, had to learn there are some tools we need to use in marriage.
Mark: One tool we have been given by God is the tool of courage. We are directed repeatedly throughout scripture to be strong and courageous. In fact in Joshua 1:9, it says, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Jill: Courage is a powerful tool but it is often blocked by fear. Fear keeps us from moving forward. In marriage, we often have unhelpful repeated patterns–or ruts–of responding to one another. The only way to get out of the ruts is to create a new path and that requires courage. I’ve had to use courage to learn to be more emotionally vulnerable. I’ve also had to use courage to ask for help or comfort…something I didn’t do in the first 27 years of our marriage. In doing so, I’m letting Mark know I need him.
Mark: Courage is acting rightly independent of fear. To act rightly is to be honest, to find our voice, to engage in problem solving, to engage with our family, and to make moral decisions. Mark 1.0 was not a courageous man but Mark 2.0 is learning how important courage is. I’m no longer afraid of conflict and I’ve thrown passivity out the window. I’m speaking up rather than hoarding my hurts.
So how do we grow courage? There are four ways:
From the inside out. Courage grows from God’s strength inside of you. He gives you the ability to act rightly, independent of people’s acceptance and regardless of fear.
With commitment. We are told in 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous; be strong.” No matter what is happening in our marriage we must tap into that resolve–or commitment–and stand firm. The world says when things get hard you need to leave. God says when things get hard you need to use your God-Tool of courage.
By choice. We rarely feel like being courageous. We’ll have to choose to be courageous. When fear is present (fear of being honest, fear of being vulnerable, fear of sharing truth, fear of speaking up, fear of setting a boundary), it’s often an open invitation to use your God-Tool of courage.
With action. Courage grows as we act on it. A hammer is of no use until you pick it up and use it for its intended purpose. Courage is the same. We act courageously in marriage when we persevere rather than quit. When we act with integrity rather than letting our feelings or thoughts control us. When we take responsibility rather than shrugging it off. When we embrace reality rather than running from it. When we choose to grow rather than stay the same. When we create rather than destroy. When we talk rather than shut down. When we apologize even if we aren’t the only one wrong. When we love rather than hate.
Jill: God has given you courage. It is a powerful tool in your marriage. Grab your courage and push through those fears for the sake of your marriage, for the sake of your children, grandchildren, and generations to come.
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