Be Courageous, Mommy


My six-year-old, Ava, and I walked hand-in-hand back to our house. It was after sunset, and we were returning home from a dinner with friends.

What should have been a leisurely stroll, wasn’t.

My heart raced. Small noises beckoned for my attention. Did Ava notice me nervously looking over my shoulder? Did she realize that our pace was faster than normal?

Since my battle with panic attacks had started almost two years earlier following a miscarriage, I’d developed an intense fear of being outside at night without my husband, Ted. At times it was debilitating. I turned down girls’ night out invitations. I refused to go shopping after the sun set. I even hesitated to open the front door in the evening.

Step by literal step, I fought the fear.

“I’m scared of being outside when it’s dark,” I confided to Ava.

While many kids may have latched on to my expressed fear, she didn’t. Instead, she simply said, “Be courageous, Mommy. That’s what we learned at school.”

Courageous. Having, according to my dictionary, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

It’s what Joshua showed as he fought the Lord’s enemies in the Promised Land. It’s what Esther demonstrated when she approached the king. It’s what Mary displayed when she accepted the role of Jesus’ mother. Yet courage isn’t restricted to the extraordinary. It isn’t limited to big acts. It’s an attitude I can practice during the mundane.

It was with my daughter’s timely words of encouragement still fresh in my thoughts that I sat down to watch Sherwood Picture’s fourth film, Courageous.

Written by brothers and fellow pastors Alex and Stephen Kendrick, Courageous hit theaters in September 2011. It opened at No. 4 and remained in the box office top 10 for four weeks. Now available on DVD and Blu-ray, the exclusive collector’s edition features over two hours of special features.

While I have yet to see Sherwood’s first film, Flywheel, I enjoyed both Facing the Giants and Fireproof. Truth be told, I still choke up every time I watch Facing the Giants. Every time. Truth be told, Ted does too.

As a former film student, I was interested to see in Courageous how Sherwood has continued to grow in their movie-making skills since their previous picture. And within the first five minutes, it was obvious to me that the production value surpassed that of its predecessors. Handhelds were used. Jump cuts employed. And, they definitely seemed to be shooting on higher quality film.

Turns out, as I learned in the bonus feature, “The Making of Courageous,” the movie wasn’t shot on film at all. Instead, the filmmakers used three RED cameras — a cutting edge digital alternative to film. It’s a technology we didn’t use when I attended film school almost a decade ago, and I was impressed by the cinematic quality it brought to Courageous.

Yet the technical isn’t what the film’s creators hope impacts viewers the most. It’s the story.

Courageous is all about the challenges of contemporary fatherhood. It chronicles the lives of five disparate men and their families. Viewers watch as police officers Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, Shane Fuller, and David Thomas, along with their friend Javier Martinez, navigate their roles as husbands and fathers. These men learn that fatherhood is much more demanding — and valuable — than anything they encounter in their professional lives. The film explores this theme with a tasteful balance of sobriety and levity, something I’ve come to expect from Sherwood Pictures. I laughed out loud more than once.

While the film is marketed as a call for fathers to take their God-given role seriously, its message that “honor begins at home” is applicable to us all. It takes courage to live the way God calls us to, regardless of our role and responsibilities.

As I watched the characters interact, I found myself growing introspective. What do I resolve to do on a daily basis? Do I resolve to just make it through the day, to just do good enough?

Yes, too often I do. There are days when I watch the clock, anxious for naptime, rather than engage my children as I should. There are moments when Facebook captivates me more than Ted. And there are instances when I choose Netflix over my Bible. When one of the fathers in the movie chooses to watch TV from the couch rather than go on a run with his son, I felt the pang of conviction, knowing I too have put off my kids too many times, and that I could do better.

And that’s what I walked away from this movie with — a resolution to do better. A desire to have the strength to persevere — not merely endure — on those days when kids fight, food burns, and the laundry basket is hidden beneath a pile of dirty clothes. To be, as my six-year-old challenged me, courageous — even when it’s dark outside.

Maybe it is time for me to become a woman of courage. I can start by putting away the fear and letting my friends know that I can make girls’ night this weekend.

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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

  • “Courage” was my word for the past few months! It means (to me) having the strength to focus on God, on the Good, and the resolve to live accordingly. It means having a spirit of power, love, and reasonableness rather than a spirit of fear.

    • Elizabeth, you comment made me think of 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” This is definitely a verse of which I remind myself!

  • Jodie

    M and I watched the film for the first time last weekend. Yes, Sherwood Films’ skills and equipment are markedly improved!

    I about couldn’t handle the tragedy. But I took home how we need to be more intentional and interactive in our children’s lives. It’s so easy to quip, “I’m busy right now,” or “Go play with your sisters,” than taking the time and small effort to play, to dance, to make a fool of oneself for the sake of a child’s laughter — a laughter that can be taken away in an instant.

    I also was convicted of the way I talk to my children. It’s often easier for me to be short with my girls and be too quick to say, “No.” it’s a lot more work, especially with my two girls coming from hard places, to be there, make them look me in the eyes, and CALMLY make them correct the offending behavior.

    Yes, this movie targeted men — encouraging fathers to stand up and be the leaders God intended. But it’s also a call for us all to have the courage to do the right thing.

    • Jodie, one of the most heartbreaking moments for me to watch was the dancing scene following the tragedy. Wow.

      • Jodie

        Seriously. And that really struck me. I wanted to scream at him when he was sitting in the truck watching his daughter to get out and dance with her. But that’s what really convicted me. How many times have I done that sort of thing?

  • I’m not a crier during movies, but I regret not bringing tissues with me for this one. I watched it while visiting my boyfriend, with his mom and a close family friend. It was such a strange dynamic to walk out and see what the movie meant for each one of us – a windowed mother, a son who grew up without a father, a woman dealing with the pains of her past, and a girl who’s smack in the middle of dealing with the frustrations of having a passive father.

    The dancing scenes – both of them – had me in tears because I realized it’s something I’ll never get the chance to do with my dad, but wish I could. You learn, though. From the actions of your parents you learn what it is you need to offer your children. I really wish I could get my family to sit around and watch this movie together.

    I’m not a parent yet, but this movie definitely taught me a thing or two about living with purpose. Every action you [do or don’t] take and every word you [do or don’t] say has a greater impact than you expect on those around you, even if it’s something that has nothing to do with them at all. Like John Donne says, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”

    • Monica, I loved how you shared, “It was such a strange dynamic to walk out and see what the movie meant for each one of us.” To me, a good story does that — it impacts each of us with our different roles, responsibilities, and pasts. It’s funny too, my husband was just explaining to our kids last night what John Donne’s quote “No man is an island” means. :-)

  • Courageous means to take each day at a time…step by step moving into God’s purpose for me and further away from my fears. I get fearful when I focus on the big picture that I cannot attain today, but as I learn to take steps each day…I feel much more courageous an assured

  • Joanne Viola

    Someone just asked me if I had seen this movie yet, which I have not. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copty.

  • Joanne Viola

    OOPS – forgot to finish – Courageous to me means just moving forward. Sometimes that is all we can do. Even though I might be fearful of what lies ahead, I move forward knowing that God not only goes with me but He has gone before me.
    Again, thanks for the opportunity.

  • Terry Avila

    Courageous to me means facing your fears for the greater good. It doesn’t mean not being afraid of anything but being able to triumph those fears in the toughest of situations.

    • Congrats, Terry! You are our winner! Rafflecopter randomly selected your entry. I’ve sent you an email.

  • Erin

    I think being courageous means doing what you know you should even if you have to do it afraid.

  • Being courageous means not letting “those moments” pass. Taking the time to enjoy the time I get to spend with my husband. Living this season of life to the fullest. Jumping at the chance to partake in something that God is doing around me, without letting my “plans” get in the way. All courageous, in different ways.

  • beautiful post Ashleigh. I can be such a people pleaser at times, so for me to be courageous in daily life often means to be more concerned with what God thinks and to have the courage to stand for what is truth.

    Thank you for this post.

  • JJ

    Courage: putting one foot in front of the other, when you have no idea what lies ahead.

  • You are exactly right! Although a call for Courageous Fatherhood, I believe it’s really a call for courageous living: as men, women, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, friends, family members. My husband and I are doing the 4-week Bible study series in our couples small group. Excited to see how God moves! Great post!! Just found your blog today via Time-Warp Wife!

  • Thanks for reviewing this. Our Friday night Pizza/movie nights have been exploding with new recruits every week–we might show this one Friday!

    author of THE FALL (Rapha Chronicles, #1)

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Be Courageous, Mommy

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 3 min