What defines courage?

I will be sharing 2 blog posts this week.  One will be serious.  Since I have already opened the controversial can of worms with my last TWO posts, apparently, I thought I might as well go for a 3rd.  My 2nd post this week will be purely comic relief.  So stay tuned!

Since the appearance of the new public figure Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair a few weeks ago, I have seen responses varying from supportive to outright hatred.  The transgender lifestyle is for sure a controversial topic to some extent, I think mostly because a lot of people don’t understand it.  And not very many celebrities or public figures have ever come out as a transgender individual.  So it is still a fairly new thing, at least in the public eye.

The main topic of outrage I have seen about this is due to the fact that Caitlyn has been awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this  year’s ESPY’s.  A majority people have expressed the fact that what Caitlyn has done is not courageous or heroic and is not deserving of that title.  I’m actually surprised how many people were shocked by this given the fact that the award went to Michael Sam last year.  But that’s neither here nor there I guess.

Given the list of some of the previous winners, which includes, Robin Roberts, Muhammed Ali, Nelson Mandela, and Pat Tillman, just to name a few, I will agree that giving the award to Caitlyn Jenner is somewhat questionable.  My personal opinion on it is that it is a ratings and publicity stunt on the part of ESPN.  But is that Caitlyn’s fault?  No, it’s not.  And does that mean that what Caitlyn has done is not courageous?  Absolutely not.  Some of the more hateful memes I have seen regarding this show soldiers saying they want to “thank” Jenner for her “courage.”  And another one that is going around is that Caitlyn won this award over Noah Galloway, an Army veteran and amputee.  Just to clear things up, that is FALSE.  There are not nominees for this award.  ESPN chooses one person to recieve it, end of story.  I happen to think Noah would be an amzazing recepient for this award.  But he did not “lose” it to Caitlyn Jenner.  And putting that out there is just plain hurtful.  Gotta love social media. 🙂

But all these memes and all these people insulting the award that was given to Jenner made me start to wonder:  what defines courage?  Who’s to decide who is a hero, who is courageous and brave, and who is not?  Seeing the memes with the soldiers made me wonder, is heroism and courage limited only to those who fight in the military?  Do NOT get me wrong.  I am one of the biggest military supporters you will ever meet.  I love America and the amazing men and women who fight for our freedom.  Without them, I wouldn’t be able to express these opinions right now.  I have a father and brother who both served in Afghanistan and my father also served in the Gulf war.  Their courage and bravery are the ultimate gift in my opinon.

However, does that mean that other people who do courageous acts are not worthy of that definition?  Courage and bravery mean so many things to so many different people.  I would not say that Jenner’s decision to fully transition to a woman and share that journey with the world should be in the same category as a person who is serving our country.  But it is still courageous nonetheless.

Let’s define courage.  COURAGE: noun.  “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”  Nowhere in that definition does it say that definition is limted to a certain group of individuals.  Courage is defined in so many ways.  Courage is being a parent.  Courage is going for that dream career at the expense of everything else.  Courage is committing to spending your life with someone.  Courage is knowing when to walk away from someone who isn’t good for you.  Courage is training for a marathon when you haven’t run a day in your life.  I don’t believe that anyone has the right to automatically say that someone’s behavior isn’t courageous solely based on the fact that they don’t agree with their lifestyle.

There are a lot of people out there who saying being transgender or homosexual is a lifestyle choice.  My opinion on that is that it absolutely is not.  As a hot-blooded, man-loving woman, I know that I could never just up and decide to be sexually attracted to women. (excluding the few drunken kisses with my friends in my 20’s, but who doesn’t do that right?)  And I could definitely never just decide that I no longer like my lady parts and instead want to have a penis.  So I have to believe that it is the way we are made.  Meaning transgender and homosexual people are that way from birth, and they have no choice in the matter.  I won’t debate that because everyone has the right to their own opinion.  I know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but the Bible also says a lot of things about loving each other and to not judge, lest you be judged.  So you can’t pick and choose which parts to follow if you’re gonna use that argument.

So to everyone who is being all high and mighty on this issue, I’d like you to stop for a minute and consider something, without judgment, just for a moment.  Imagine what your life would be like if you were living a lie.  If everything you said and did HAD to be a facade.  If you went through every single day feeling different, or not right in your own skin.  How must that feel?  Now imagine one day you find the COURAGE to be who you truly are inside, to do what makes you happy, to be who God intended you to be.  But, by doing that, you risk losing your job, your family, your friends, possibly everything you have worked for or achieved in your lifetime.  To me, that is one of the ultimate acts of courage and bravery.

Caitlyn Jenner coming out this way to the world and sharing her journey with everyone to see could cut both ways.  On one hand, part of me thinks that she is becoming one of the Kardashian pulicity whores.  But, on the other hand, her decision to go through this journey out in the open also has the opportunity to help people.  And if her journey helps even one person out there who is struggling with the same issues, then it’s worth it.  So to those who would say that Bruce Jenner was not courageous for changing his life, or that Caitlyn is not courageous for living it, I would say this:  Think of all the life choices that you have ever made where you stood to lose something.  Did you stand by your decision anyway, no matter what opposition stood in your way?  That, my friends, is courage.

In closing, I will give you this, in hopes that we can all try to see each other through God’s eyes, through loving eyes, and not eyes of hatred or judgment.  1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

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