By: Gabriela Yareliz
It’s my great honor to share with you an excerpt from The Book of Common Courage: Prayers and Poems to Find Strength in Small Moments by K.J. Ramsey (release date: January, 17, 2023). This gorgeous book is getting some well-deserved attention and buzz. It is currently #1 in the category of “Christian Prayer Books” on Amazon. As you know if you are part of the community, we typically feature books by author interview, where after reading the book, I get the opportunity to sit down with the author and ask questions and chat about it.
Ms. Ramsey is a poet, and we figured that perhaps the best way to share her work and heart with you would be to share a piece of it with you here. We are sharing this excerpt with you here, hoping you will love it as much as we did and go out and get the book (it is never a bad time to gift an inspiring book! You know me… book lover, forever.). It is the beginning of the year and people are still seeking clarity, motivation and vision for the season ahead. Special thanks to Harper Collins, Zondervan and Ms. Collier for making this feature and sharing possible. Dear MW friends, get inspired!
As always, we pray something you read here will inspire you and help you grow a closer walk with Jesus.
Words by K.J. Ramsey
When life makes us feel stuck, scared, or small, the storms of stress separate our minds from our bodies and hearts and ourselves from one another. Fear can turn our hands to fists and our feet to flight. We sink into overwhelm and shut down in storms of stress in an effort to survive, but rushing and retreating aren’t exactly the path to strength and joy.
It’s hard to pray when we feel powerless because our bodies need the presence of someone else to soothe us and speak us back into safety. Fear and stress temporarily disconnect us from the language centers of the brain and the calming, regulating power of the prefrontal cortex, but the presence of another safe, empathetic person can bring our minds, bodies, and hearts back together.
“It’s hard to pray when we feel powerless because our bodies need the presence of someone else to soothe us and speak us back into safety.”K.J. Ramsey
A fourteenth-century definition of courage is “to speak one’s mind by telling all of one’s heart.”* Courage is connecting one’s heart back to one’s mind, stitching together the separated parts of ourselves and one another. Courage is holding the heart when the mind can’t hope.
I titled my new collection of prayers and poems The Book of Common Courage because courage is something we hold in common.
Courage is not the possession of the bravest or biggest but the choice to move toward the heart when the mind and body are separated by fear. Courage is the choice to move our fear into communion.
“Courage is the choice to move our fear into communion.”K.J. Ramsey
When we don’t have words, we need a witness. We need with-ness.
When we find ourselves struggling to be strong in yet another dark valley of vulnerability, we need to sense there is a Shepherd coming to care for us.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (MARK 1 : 9 –11 nrsv)
Taken from The Book of Common Courage: Prayers and Poems to Find Strength in Small Moments by K.J. Ramsey Copyright © 2023 by Katie Jo Ramsey. Used by permission of Zondervan Gift.
*Quoted in Annie Rogers, “Voice, Play, and a Practice of Ordinary Courage in Girls’ and Women’s Lives,” Harvard Educational Review 63, no. 3 (September 1, 1993): 271, https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.63.3.9141184q0j872407.
K.J. Ramsey is a trauma-informed licensed professional counselor and author whose work offers space to see every part of our souls and stories as sacred. K.J. writes at the intersection of theology, psychology, and spiritual formation to guide us in recovering the rhythm of resilience through nervous system regulation and the wonder of communion with God. She and her husband Ryan, along with their two exceptionally cuddly dogs, Merton and Resa, live near Denver, Colorado where K.J. listens for the liturgy of life in wildflowers, sunsets, sorrow, and church. Her new book The Book of Common Courage: Prayers and Poems to Find Strength in Small Moments is a collection of prayers, poems, and blessings to help you find a flicker of strength in the small and hard moments of life.