Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 12, 2010

Expression of Bravery

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Something about the male species!  We want to express bravery!  A snake is seen in the yard — pretty girl around — scared by the snake — boy (likewise does not care for snakes) wants to express bravery — scared on the inside — but to impress girl — catches snake!  That seems to describe our nature when it comes to bravery!

Bravery can be expressed on the outside, while fear hovers inside.  This does not diminish  bravery, but it confesses that often in our aura of courage, there is an inward emotional fear.  Bravery is that ability to confront fear, pain, risk, danger, and uncertainty.  Fear is that emotional response to some perceived threat. I am exposing my nature when I confess that even in times of showing bravery, inwardly I have to deal with fear.

I really dealt with those two emotions one night in the early 1950s.  That was an era of gangs.  Our small town did not have gangs — we were so few in numbers that we were the “gang.”  It was much the same with the other competitive small towns that surrounded us.  We did have an unspoken brotherhood of being united and feeling responsible for one another.

It was a time when everyone had to act, or at least appear, tough.  I was smaller than most of my peers, yet I was a pugilist.  Most knew that.  But my reputation was more of “big” talker.  I was the one who was confrontational — it was easy when I had such backups!  There were engagements from time to time with fellows from the surrounding communities, but we never had any real intentions of injuring one another.  Small scuffles — and then backing away — relieved that no one sought to continue.

One Friday evening we were “hanging around” our favorite drive-in in a nearby town. For those who recall  the television show, Happy Days, you get a genuine picture.  This television series of the 1970s and 1980s gave an idealized vision of life  in the mid 1950s.  The teenagers gathered at Arnold’s Drive-In.  I often remarked that it was as if the producers recaptured our nights at Hensler’s.

A phone call was answered by the owner of the drive-in.  He came over to a booth and told me that the call was for me.  When I picked up the phone and said, “Hello,” a voice began to berate me, call me names, challenge me, and said it was time to settle a score.  I had no idea who it could be.  I was told that if I was as brave as my mouth, I should come alone to the ball field in our town — and I to “come alone” was the emphasis!

I confess to you that I had to talk big, but already inwardly I was scared.  I shared with the fellows what was said.  Of course, they said I had to go.  And I knew I had to!  I was in a dilemma.  I had to face the threat — and though fear was gripping me — I was even more scared to be called “chicken” by my friends.  I was asking myself why I had to be such a big mouth!

I remembered what John Wayne said in a movie, “Courage is being scared to death — and saddling up anyway.”  I had no choice.  But my friends were there for me.  The largest of our group got in the back seat and laid on the floor.  Several other cars planned to follow several minutes behind.  (It would have been a great plan in the days of cell phones!)  Another car or two went on the back side of the ball field some distance, parked their cars, and walked to various positions around the field.

I was not much of a prayer in those days, but I know my fear was a vehicle of prayer that night.  “God, please let it just be intimidation.  Don’t let there be anyone there.”  And such was my prayer as I drove onto the ball field.  I saw no evidence of anyone.  I got out of the car and walked to the middle of the field as instructed.  Now I realized that I was not dealing with someone very smart, unless they had a large number of fellows somewhere on the edge of the field.  No one would want to take the risk of walking out to the middle of the field and give me time to size up the situation.  Besides, it would give me a head-start in running the other way!

It was obvious someone just was having fun at my expense.  No one showed.  But if they intended to scare me — they did!  Perhaps I appeared brave to my friends.  Bravery is perhaps when you are the only one who knows you are scared!

Mark Twain wrote comforting words for one like me.  “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear –not absence of fear.  Except a man be part coward it is not a compliment to say he is brave.”  I had enough fear that night to be called brave!

I have never forgotten that night, or the inward emotions.  It has served me well.  I have felt a power from it in dealing with times that called for bravery.  It is not cowardly to have fear. I feel that there is no bravery unless you are scared!  I don’t desire the opportunity to be brave, but if the challenge comes, then “I will saddle up anyway.”

And now I have learned that when those challenges come in my spiritual life, I am ready because of Him!

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:2)  ” . . . the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4)



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