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The Courage of Conviction — Or Lack Thereof

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

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30 Days of Courage: a guide to bravery in action

30 Days of Courage is for people who want to step out of their comfort zone, through the small acts of daily bravery that add up to a courageous life. The next course kicks off on 20 April. I’d for you to join me. Registration is open — click HERE to find out more, or get signed up.

A guest post from Tara Gentile

“We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know; God wants us to realize his presence, not in unsolved problems but in those that are solved,” wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Tegel Prison. Bonhoeffer had faced over a year imprisoned by the Nazis for conspiring against Hitler and the Third Reich. He was a pastor, a theologian, and a committed pacifist.

He had the courage to risk his principles for the good of people who would come after him. In doing so, he shook his own belief system to the core. In his own “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” moment, he decided to do so that others might have the chance to live in a world not plagued by mass slaughter. Eventually, he paid the ultimate price.

But before that day, thinking and writing at Tegel, he started to redefine his own convictions. He began to see God in what is known instead of what is unknown. He began to see beauty and love in what is immanent and not merely in what is transcendent.

“God is no stop-gap,” he wrote. “He must be recognized at the centre of life, not when we are at the end of our resources; it is his will to be recognized in life, and not only when death comes; in health and vigor, and not only in suffering; in our activities, and not only in sin.” Bonhoeffer’s convictions—his pacifism, chiefly—evolved because of what was at the center of his life: unimaginable suffering, the rending of his beloved homeland, and the destabilization of his church community.

Courage isn’t always about sticking to your guns. It was the courage to explore and breakthrough the bounds of his conviction that we remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer for.

In another life, I was a religious studies major. In another life, I was a youth pastor. In another life, I was a worship leader. In another life I had unshakeable faith and conviction.

In this life, I still answer the question, “Are you a Christian?” with a “yes.” In this life, I am still a person of faith. In this life, though, my beliefs are undefined and easily misunderstood.

My faith and my courage no longer comes from a set of convictions but from here-and-now reality. It’s not the promise of God that buoys me, but the humbleness and this-worldliness of God that inspires me.

Last week at a conference, I was confronted by a world that used to be very familiar to me. I met a few young pastors and former pastors. I met young women and men who were devoted Christian parents and community members. I felt a strange sense of connection to these people even though I haven’t attended a church service in over 11 years and live in a community where committed agnostics greatly outnumber people of faith. My conviction has evolved, but the core of my faith has not. I could still feel the thread that bound us all together.

What’s funny is that while I had this deep sense of familiarity with more religious contingent of the conference, the thread that bound us together also bound the nonreligious. It wasn’t faith that tied us together but how very real and sacred the now was to each person in the community. It wasn’t superficial labels that were important but the doing that created connection.

Courage isn’t always about sticking to your guns.

It’s not about standing up for what you believe in. Courage is knowing that what you believe in goes well beyond faith and belief systems. It goes to the center of your life, how you approach living, and how the actions you take create a better world for others. The courage to live and love now binds people with shared vision and purpose.

It doesn’t take courage to have faith. It takes courage to live faith. And, it takes courage to let living faith show you new paths, necessary detours, and unexpected connections.

tara gentile - marianne elliottAbout Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile is a business strategist and the author of Quiet Power Strategy. She works with entrepreneurs and idea people to help them leverage their Quiet Power and build businesses that generate wealth, peace, and ease. Her clients learn to lead themselves and their businesses based on what makes them most effective and compelling.

Tara’s work has been featured in Fast CompanyForbesDesign*Sponge, and in theNew York Times bestselling book The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau. She’s a regular instructor on CreativeLive and speaks on entrepreneurship, money, and the New Economy all over the world.

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