Back in my early twenties I was in Chicago for a young adult’s conference during a week Martin Luther King Jr. was in town. He had a big march scheduled in a segregated blue collar neighborhood called Cicero. We had the opportunity to attend the rally, hear him speak, and then join the march.
“Absolutely, I’m in!” I said. I was 100% with Doctor King’s mission. We all crowded into a high school gymnasium to listen to an amazing motivating speech. With a swell of pride I looked forward to participating in the march the next day.
That night we had a reality check. Our hosts gathered us in a room and told us what to expect if we made the decision to march. Violence was anticipated. Threats had been made and were considered dead serious. We could expect to have things thrown at us; other marchers had landed in hospitals and death was not out of the question. Did we still want to join the march?
I tossed and turned that night in bed. How committed was I really? Was I willing to die in a strange city and neighborhood for a cause not my own? I was no longer sure. We had been given another option to participate without much danger. Some of us could join the spectators along the curb and gather data – kind of take the crowd’s temperature. That was starting to look mighty good.
In the end, that is what I chose. I learned a lot about myself that week. I learned that courage flows out of a heart that has made up its mind in advance of a challenge to it. I learned that it’s easier to talk the talk than walk the walk.
Through the years I’ve second guessed myself and often wished I’d chosen the other way. But my decision was good too. It humbled me; no longer taking courage for granted. Hats off to all who obey its call!