To Be Courageous

David gegen Goliath, by Gebhard Fugel

David gegen Goliath, by Gebhard Fugel

It doesn’t take much for the rosary to pass me by. I try to repeat prayers I end without having a clue what I just said, but sometimes I have to proceed regardless.

I was trying to get through the sorrowful mysteries the other day when I got to the crowning of thorns. The fruit of the mystery is moral courage, I said. I pictured Jesus with the crown of thorns on his head and said it again. The fruit of the mystery is moral courage.

Driving down the road, that got me thinking. What would the most courageous thing be that one could do? I mean, here we are Catholics around the globe asking God to grant us courage and meditating on the crowning of thorns every Tuesday and Friday. What does courage look like?

Picturing courage, it is impossible not to think of the Christians in Syria. Iraq. Sudan. Nigeria . . . Obviously the Christians there go to bed at night exemplifying courage. Then they wake up in the morning and do it again.

But I’m not there. God put me here. I won’t claim definitively that the God spoke to me, but I’ll raise the question.

What is the most courageous thing I could do? I wondered.

Be happy.

What? I said. Seriously?

Be happy.

The more I thought about it, the more it challenged me. When I feel hurt, rejected, unnoticed, and unappreciated. When I am forgotten. When I have little left to give and failure seems an apt description of my efforts heretofore . . . what would it mean to be happy in the face of these things? The happy I was seeing wasn’t the opposite of depression. The happy unfolding in my understanding was a deep-to-your-bones thing.

Something that floods us when we glimpse the profound love that God has for us. Maybe we don’t see or touch that love for what it is every day. Maybe the truth and fire of that love is flashes in the dark down here and the rest of the knowing we take on faith.

But to be happy . . . it came at me again. To be happy would not be to deny suffering, to be happy would be to assert the truth of my place as a beloved child of God.

I am decidedly not a girly girl. When my first daughter was born, a dear friend brought tiny pink shoes with princess crowns on them.

Love the shoes, but I’m not into the princess thing, I said.

She’s a child of the King, said my friend. Doesn’t matter if you approve or not. She’s a princess.

To be happy would be living and hurting like I’m a princess too. Undaunted in the face of fear and rejection. Holding fast in the midst of adversity and discouragement, because at the end of the day, I’m a child of the King.

Copyright 2014, Michelle Dawn Jones


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  1. Flávia Ghelardi on

    Hi Michelle, I really liked what you wrote, so I´m asking permition to translate it into Portuguese, so I can share it with my friends. This post and also the one in your blog. Do you allow me to? Thanks!

    • Hi Flavia,
      I’m so sorry not to have responded to this. Somehow I didn’t see the comment when it came through. (I don’t always do these techie things well.) You’re probably long past wanting to translate the post, but by all means, share with whomever in translation or not. Apologies again. –

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