What makes an elephant charge his tusk,
in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
– The Cowardly Lion
The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love the characters. I love the music. And as a woman, I love the idea of having ruby slippers. I have practically memorized the entire movie, but I never tire of watching it again and again.
As I sit reflecting on some materials from a very talented and celebrated life coach, I am reminded of the Cowardly Lion. There is so much at stake in my life. I don’t really know what to do. Is it that I have no options? No, I have options (very few). What I need is courage try something.
If you know me, you probably know that I am shy. I have a hard time asking for things because I never want to interrupt or intrude. I don’t think of myself as particularly courageous, especially when the very thought of a job interview triggers a panic attack. Crazy, perhaps, but not courageous.
But then I think back to four years ago, when I packed up and moved across the country to go to seminary. I had no idea how things would turn out (that remains to be seen!), but I drove myself to Tulsa anyway. It was a huge risk, but I took it. I recently shared my thoughts about it here.
Since that time, I’ve been really scared. I’ve been scared about my health, my home, my sanity… And I am still scared. This is not my idea of courage. I identify with the Cowardly Lion, particularly the scene where he’s poised to ask the Wizard for some courage but he passes out instead.
When I think of courage, I think of people like Harriet Tubman. I think of soldiers in Afghanistan. I think of my mother as she battled breast cancer. I don’t think of the girl with the insect phobia.
I think of people like Abraham, and Moses, and Paul. I think of Joshua and Caleb, who were ready to go and claim the promised land in spite of the giants that were living there. Before he set out, God gave Joshua the ultimate pep talk in Joshua 1:6-9. Three times the he tells Joshua: “Be strong and courageous.”
Strength and courage. I don’t have strength or courage like Joshua. I also don’t have the challenge of warring peoples (thankfully). My challenges are different. While I don’t have the courage to battle Joshua’s giants, is it possible that I have enough to battle my own? If I do, then why do I feel so afraid? Much like the Cowardly Lion, I feel that my courage is inadequate.
Perhaps the thing I like most about the Wizard of Oz is the message: You already have what you need. The Scarecrow went to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard for some brains. But throughout the whole movie, he is constantly coming up with good ideas and solutions to problems. The Tin Man goes to ask the Wizard for a heart, but he’s the most emotional of all the characters. Then there’s the Lion. He longs for courage, but he accompanies Dorothy to the Emerald City, journeys to the Wicked Witch’s castle, beats up guards to steal their uniforms, and sneaks into the castle. And he does all this in spite of his fear. That is courage, my friends.
My guess is that like the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, we see ourselves as inadequate. We compare ourselves to other people, and we feel we come up short. But like our beloved movie characters, I’m sure that you are much smarter, more caring, and more courageous than you give yourself credit for.