A 'profile in courage'

Write a “profile in courage” about a person whose courage you admire. The person can be living or dead, famous or unknown. In this person’s life, identify the good she or he sought, the obstacles or fears he/she overcame, and the strengths she/he used to overcome these fears.

The person I admire as the most courageous person I know cannot be named. She recently told me that she has MS, a debilitating disease whose complications eventually result in death. I do not know whom she has told and whom she has chosen not to tell, so she shall be called Jane for the sake of remaining anonymous in this essay.

Jane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 13 years ago. She was paralyzed, lying in a bed for a long time, which gave her plenty of time to be scared. Her children were scared for her; her daughter was only 12 and was already coping with the difficulties of being an adolescent and the last thing she needed was another worry in her life. Jane was very concerned for her daughter and family, but was herself very scared of what the future would bring.

She was not sure if she would even have the freedom to move again. She was not sure if she would even get to see her children grow into adulthood and start families of their own. Jane was scared – but she trusted God.

She knew that God was telling her something, that this was all part of the ‘plan’ and that if she could survive this together with Him, she could do anything. If she had the courage to overcome this ‘detour’ in life, she had the power to accomplish whatever she set her mind to. She wanted to live to see her children grow up; she wanted what was best for them. Jane wanted to continue her life as well – this was another challenge that had to be conquered. And so she began, crossing the hurtles she feared one day at a time.

And as her confidence grew, she became stronger. Her fear of dying was suddenly alongside the confident knowledge that she was not giving up, she was giving life her best shot. She could not just surrender and let this disease win. Her fear of leaving behind and failing her family was consumed by her willingness to live to see them grow up. In time, she was able to return home to her family and go back to work.

In all the things she had feared, Jane grew a great deal, learning about herself, her family and God. She learned that life is precious and must be taken seriously, that you have to live each day in the present and not to put off things you could do tomorrow, because tomorrow is not a guarantee. But most of all, Jane learned that life is worth living if you are making a difference. She felt that this is what God had shown her through her disease. Even though she would never be cured, Jane knew that the time she had left (for lack of a better phrase) could be put to good use.

So she began to pursue the things important to her – sharing God’s love and strength. Even though she lives with MS everyday, Jane has reached out to the community to teach others what she’s learned and she has succeeded. Jane has taught many people what is truly means to courageously live your faith, without making us pity her. I never knew she had MS and I do not know that if knowing before I had really gotten to know her would have made me think of her differently.

She has taught me personally that I can overcome anything that life throws my way. Many times the only things that hold me back from this are my fears, and she is showing me that there are creative ways to conquer those fears. I have the support of my family and friends who really do care for me. When I remember that the people who love me only want what is best for me, I begin to understand that the wisdom she possess comes from her tremendous courage. It comes from her own struggles and what she has learned from her personal triumphs over MS. I have always admired her, and since she shared this part of her life with me, I feel that now I really have someone to look up to.

Please don’t ask me who that is about. I would feel like I’m betraying her if I told you, even though most of you don’t know her. Please though, if you know this woman, don’t mention this to other people, I wouldn’t feel right about it…

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