If I Only Had the Courage

Before Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man can reach the Emerald City, they must pass through a dark, dense forest. Thick overgrowth shuts out the sunlight, and they begin to imagine the dangers lurking in the shadows. “Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh my!” Their hearts race, their fears increases, and their steps quicken. They just want to get out of this place.

It’s here they come face to face with one of their biggest fears…a lion! Dorothy runs for cover as the would-be-thinker and the would-be-feeler scatter in panic.

But when the lion pursues her precious dog, Toto, something snaps inside of Dorothy. She can no longer watch from the side lines as this lion terrorizes what is precious to her. Dorothy steps up, faces the lion, and slaps him in the face.

At that moment, the lion crumbles. His fearsome exterior falls away and he becomes more pitiful than powerful. In that moment, the weak becomes powerful and the powerful becomes weak.

When Dorothy learns of the lion’s need, she compassionately invites him to travel with them to see if the Wizard might give him the courage he lacks. The lion accepts, and they set off arm-in-arm for the Emerald City…in search of a brain, a heart, some courage, and a way back home.

You have made the decision to walk toward a better way of life. You have realized that both your thinking and your feelings have been affected by what you have been through. You feel like you’ve been making progress.

But then things get darker and more fearful, Maybe it’s an increase in flashbacks, an increase in nightmares, or an increase in relationship difficulties. Whatever it is, your fear, anxiety, and dread begin to grow until you come face to face with your lion.

Your lion is the thing you did not want to face. It could be the memory you did not want to remember, the idea you did not want to consider, or the feeling you didn’t want to feel. Like a lion jumping out of the forrest, it sends you running for cover.

But this lion will eventually push you to realize…

  • “I’ve come this far and faced so much already. I can’t throw it away now.”
  • “If I run away, where will I go? I can’t go back to where I used to be. Too much has transpired.”
  • “I’m tired of this lion, and others like it, bullying me and the people I love.”

Something will go off inside of you and you’ll do what you didn’t think you could do. You’ll confront the lion, and it will give way. Your lion may not yield as quickly as Dorothy’s lion, but it will eventually lose its bluster and become more weak and pitiful than you imagined. In that moment, the powerful will become weak and the weak will become powerful. This act of courage is an important turning point on the road out of Oz.