A while back, I set off for a weekend away from work, away from the city and technology. I was going with many other brothers on a much needed retreat.

Honestly, as much as I needed the retreat, I was also nervous. I had barely, or never, talked to most of the men going. What would happen if I found any of them attractive? Could I deal with that guilt weighing on me all weekend?

Plus, my spiritual life was a wreck. Not the healthiest way to go into a Christian retreat.

For parts of the weekend, we split into smaller groups — tribes — based on our five YOB values. By chance (providence?), I was placed on the Courage tribe. Courage — an unlikely descriptor for me considering my proclivity to worry and avoidance of leadership.

I could say much about the retreat, but the men of the Courage tribe spoke the most into my life.

During our first tribal meeting, we did some ice-breaker questions to actually get to know each other. Were there some awkward silences? Probably. But that’s what happens, at least for me, when I keep some of my guards up, meeting new people.

The second evening, however, after having spent some time together, we dug into what courage means, how we have seen courage in our lives, how we have failed to be courageous, and how we can walk more in courage.

Courage (n): the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.

Given this definition, our group started off saying that we have all chosen a path of courage as we walk this gray area of life, faith, and culture.

After some light talk and spaces of quiet, something amazing and beautiful happened.

One by one, these men started sharing parts of their story. Men trusting the rest of us with stories about facing rejection by friends or family as they opened up about their struggles. Men sharing about the weight they carry in not being able to be fully present. Men feeling like their life is too polarizing for their family.

All this divulged among men who had first met less than a day ago.

One guy then reminded us of the importance to hear truth as we continue to walk in courage. Knowing the Truth about who God says we are will help us be courageous.

These men, their stories showed me the courage to love. The courage to love family and friends, whether they understand, accept us, or not. The courage to love and trust God even in the midst of confusion and lies.

The courage to love myself.

As we wrapped up our evening in prayer and song, the image of men sharing stories, song, and prayers as we cried and held each other — that image imprinted itself on my heart and mind.

This — this is courage.

To those brothers, thank you for showing me the courage to love. Your stories continue to impact me.

That next morning, as I thought over the evening, I landed in the Psalms — and read about the courage to trust God. Psalm 25:4-5 reads:

Make me to know your ways, O Lordteach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

In the spaces where I needed to know my messy life wasn’t too much, God shows up. If only I have the courage to wait on Him.

The retreat ended, and I watched our small group of nine and the larger group of nearly fifty say good-bye. These brothers who laughed, cried, worshiped, and lived courageously together. And I was (and am) happy because I know the story continues for each of us.

How can we show courage today? For God, for ourselves, and for those around us? Tell us about a time you stepped out in courage with your story.

    Kevin Zimmerman

    Born and raised in the Midwest, I find my heart bent toward nature and travel. Things that I love? Travelling, cooking, trying new food, hiking trails, exploring other cultures, the arts, stories – told and read – summer camp, and lists (seriously). Personality tests run the risk of putting people into boxes, so I'd rather let you get to know me before sharing what I "test" as. "Sojourner" is a term I'm becoming more comfortable using to describe myself and my lifestyle. Random facts about me: I played the bassoon for eleven years and can speak French. Let's journey together.

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