Thoughts from Beth - on Courage
Updated: Aug 29, 2018
Our ED and founder, Beth McLean Wiest, often has wonderful and insightful thoughts to share with our HtH participants every month. We think her thoughts are worth sharing with you too!
What do you feel when you read this word? I feel a mix of emotions. My pulse quickens somewhat. I feel a mixture of anticipation and dread, opportunity and threat, invitation and challenge.
I prefer the feelings of Invitation and Challenge.
“Invitation” involves at least two elements: the one inviting and the one being invited.
Synonyms of “invitation” include offer, request, summons, bidding, call, solicit, ask. People invite, ideas invite, experiences / opportunities invite, the Trinity invites. It can be a vulnerable moment of daring to include.
“Challenge” acknowledges risk and action resulting in change. The amount of risk is often unknown and varies. Synonyms include test, trial, task, encounter. “Challenge” is neither positive nor negative, it just is. The outcome of a challenge, however, can certainly be positive or negative.
In my opinion, invitation is an act, big or small, of courage as is the decision to “go for it” and respond to a challenge.
Courage is the act of being brave: “the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.”
When I share the story of why we started HtH, most of the time I share about it being a response to the “It’s all about me...” culture American Idol and Reality TV has created. It was a decision to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. This was an act of courage as we were in essence choosing to speak up against the culture.
What you may not know is that another key idea that shaped HtH was as a “post trip” community for travellers, missionary kids and those processing cross-cultural differences.
How often have you met someone who had a powerful mission or learning experience abroad only to become totally disenchanted with pretty much everything within in a year? How often have you seen people struggle with drunkenness, lust, sexual promiscuity, gossip, discontent, loneliness, dissension or addiction following a “mountain top” travel experience?
In my experience as a traveller – whether I traveled in groups or not- a much more permanent journey of transformation began when I returned back home. I needed to figure out how my values gelled- or didn’t- with what I had learned and experienced in my travels.
Unfortunately, in my experience, I was alone and the community I sought out had no frame of reference and very little idea of how to relate to me. I was experiencing a lot of challenge with very little invitation to discover why and so it was an overwhelming time.
I wanted a place where there were other travellers struggling to make sense of the world and the mess we’re in. I wanted a place where it was ok to question what I believed, how I was raised, the culture around me. I wanted a place I would belong even though I had seen injustice, evil and extreme poverty up close. I wanted a place where I could ask, “So what now?”
For at least a year after any international travel or service / learning experience, it is of extreme importance for one’s spiritual, emotional, mental and even physical health to be in an intentional community.
HtH is a place I yearned for. HtH as a “post-trip community” is a place where people can process international travel, in particular mission trips and times of learning and service abroad. (NOTE: It is an HtH requirement for travel that you commit for the year following an HtH Learning and Serving trip to HtH or an intentional community where you will be able to ask questions like “So what now?”)
Courage asks the question “So what now?” Courage moves us through observation, reflection and discussion into planning, finding accountability and ultimately into action. Sometimes this process takes weeks, sometimes it takes years.
I invite you to pray “So what now?” and take time to listen for God’s response. I invite you to pray for courage and I challenge you to obey His specific invitation to your “So what now?” God will say something and He will also show you what to do about it.
Perhaps your “So what now?” will include an intentional plan for implementing a spiritual discipline into your routines. Perhaps your “So what now?” will include stopping something you are involved in or stepping up in some way. With God’s invitations come challenge. For every challenge, find at least three possible solutions.
Here are some other questions to consider in “So what now?”:
How are you currently using your strengths?
Where you are spending your money?
How are you obeying God’s command to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”?
What are you drawn to learn about a particular injustice?
Why do you find yourself praying about a specific country or area of the world or topic?
Where have you experienced God “binding up” an area of brokenness in your life?
Why are you restless to “do something” in Calgary?
Who are people with whom you could step out in courage together?
I also invite you to pray for the HtH community on its justice journey. As you listen, see how these impressions align with our mission statement and core values. Consider your role in bringing these impressions to fruition. Courage is an act of faith. It is movement forward towards hope.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 1:9
Build community. Expand worldviews. Develop leaders. Fight for justice.