When I was a young student, I often thought courage as a quality of someone who has no fear, like a fearless soldier in the battlefield. I thought courage meant to be unflinching in the midst of fear and to run towards it without hesitation. Caritas helped me see courage in a different light. Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. To have courage is to have heart; the French word for heart is in the word courage. To have courage is to be vulnerable, which I thought was a sign of weakness. This dismissed my idea that vulnerability means to wear my heart on my sleeve, and it could be easily used or rejected by others. Rather, to be vulnerable is to have the strength to be our real and genuine selves. To have courage is to present ourselves to others as God made us to be.

Trusting with an open heart has been something I struggled with throughout my life. In the book, Resisting Happiness, Matthew Kelly writes that when we close ourselves from acceptance or being receptive, we keep ourselves from being truly happy, and we keep ourselves from God. What kept me away from God’s true love was my own resistance to myself and others. When I was young and had a hard time trusting my own abilities, I would often question if I was good enough. I wanted to be the perfect student, so I would stay up all night working on my homework. I was made fun of at school for my outer appearance and due to my lack of self-confidence, I had a hard time trusting my peers. When it came to relationships, I have been heartbroken a few times and had a hard time trusting men.

Now, I have challenges trusting God with His plans for me especially after the recent death of my sister and facing pending uncertainties of what the future will bring. I would feel ashamed to question God, “Why?” and I thought it was wrong to ask Him. Caritas helped me realize that it was okay to be REAL with God, and it takes courage to have doubts. If I am angry at God, then it is okay to make it known to Him. I needed to have courage to vulnerable to God. He loves us even when we are angry and beyond frustrated at Him. He wants us to communicate our frustrations to Him through the deep and raw conversations of the heart. God created us because He loves good stories. Through our conflicts and plot twists, we become the best version of ourselves.

My sister, Hazel, was a journalist and always loved to write. When she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer after never smoking in her life at age 35, my family was devastated. And although her circumstances were frightening, she had the courage to share her story with others on her blog, hazelfights4life.wordpress.com. She was scared, but she fought for her life courageously and never gave up on hope. She is no longer with us physically, but her legacy lives on.

We are writers of our own stories. Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it. As Fr. Tri Dinh shared in a talk, “The choices we make now affects the future.” Although I do not have a clear vision of my future, I am invited to trust in the slow work of God. May our choices move in the direction of God’s love and for the spiritual growth of another. Genuine love has never left us. It is there waiting for us to embrace and share with those around us. I can be real with God, and He will love me no matter what. I do not have to know everything all at once. I do not need to be in control because I can leave it up to the one who is and that is GOD.

Amy Lodevico