The year – 1924. The scene – The Paris Olympics.
A young man was running in the Olympics – his best event was the 100-meter race. He decided not to run. He made a courageous decision. Eric Liddell, the Scotsman, decided to not run in the 100-meter race because it fell on a Sunday. His faith and religious belief built up a strong enough foundation in him to make the decision not to run.
Can you imagine? The Olympics. Once every four years…for the best of the best, the window is very small – one, maybe two major competitions, and their career is finished. Liddell made an intentional and courageous decision to not run his best event, simply because it fell on a Sunday. We know his name because he went on to run and electrify the world by winning the 400-meter race, which wasn’t even close to his best event. He made a conscious decision before the games to not run and you better believe he had many naysayers trying to talk him into running.
Liddell stood strong on his decision and, for that, his legacy is much greater than what simply winning an Olympic Gold Medal.
I get to ride with my son at least three days a week to soccer practice. He’s eight and I have the privilege of coaching his team, as I’ve talked about before. We have a lot of funny conversations and every once in a while a more serious one. I try not to “coach” him on the way to and from practice or games. I get to do enough of that on the field. We started talking about fear – he brought it up and the conversation moved to him asking me if I was ever afraid.
This led to a talk about courage. As I told him, it’s okay to be afraid. I fear just as much as anyone else. Fear is a normal human emotion. In fact, it helps us a lot. The key, however, is to not let our fears keep us from moving forward. Fears can easily hold us back but I also think fears can be a significant catalyst for doing something amazing. You see, courage is what brings us to the other side of fear. Courage is a matter of the heart. It’s the cornerstone that brings us across the stormy waters in whatever we face in life. In fact, root of the word courage is the latin word “cor”, which means heart.
For Eric Liddell, courage was taking a stand and holding firm in his beliefs and his faith. Do you think he was afraid? I imagine there was some fear in there somewhere.
So, the next time you feel fear – maybe you let it breathe a little bit. Feel it but don’t run from it. Accept it for what it is and ask yourself – what if I face my fears and do something out of the ordinary. What if you pick up the phone and have the conversation you’ve feared having?….or, jumped into a cause you wanted to support but were afraid of what people might think?
Fear is going to happen….fear is okay, fear is normal. You can let it drag you down and keep you from moving forward…OR, you can take a good hard look and decide that courage trumps fear.
Good luck and God Bless.