Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
share post

Seeing Courage in The Other

June 17, 2024

Kirk Manton

I am almost 65 years old, and many people tell me my patience with others is one of my superpowers. “Where did this ability come from?” you may ask. “What book did you read, what course did you take, what training did you undergo to develop this skill, and what disciplines do you practice now to maintain it?” These are very appropriate questions because those who have known me long enough will tell you that I was not always this way. 

The truth is I have no simple answers to those questions. All I can do is tell you my story …

I was in Hell. And I did not know how I got there. I thought I had hit bottom with the ending of my first marriage, but now I had found a new low. It was only a few months into my second marriage, and sure, it was a bit of a rocky start, but there were lots of wonderful signs that this was going to be a beautiful relationship—one that would last. She was beautiful, her young daughter loved me, we both were Christians, we went to church together, she thought I was wonderful … until she did not.  

A short while after the honeymoon, the troubles began. We started fighting about everything. I was not picking up after myself enough, I did not make enough money, I was looking at other women … Before I knew it, she kicked me out, and I found myself living back at my mother’s house. I was walking around the neighborhood, shouting through my exhausted tears, “What is going on? How did I get here? GOD, what do You want me to do?!” 

I was on the brink of divorce again. As a Christian, I was against divorce and felt I had failed when my first marriage fell apart—now I was facing that failure AGAIN. I was exhausted, empty, and had no clue what to do. 

And then one timely question from an old friend changed everything.

One sunny Southern California afternoon, as I paced back and forth in my mother’s backyard, I called an old mentor who had moved away to New York. As I explained to Gene what Rachelle was doing and how I was contemplating divorce again, he interrupted me and said, “Kirk, between you and me there will always be grace. No matter what you decide, I will always be here for you. But let me ask you one question. Is Jesus sufficient for you? Is Jesus’s death on the cross for you and His promise to meet all your needs, according to His riches and glory, sufficient for you to fulfill your vows to Chelle and stay married to her for the rest of your life, even if nothing gets better?” 

I paused for a moment to take in what he had just said. Then, I saw it! Yes, I could do that. Jesus was sufficient for me. I could stay married to Chelle. I would stay married to her, no matter what she did, even if we never got back together. I could keep loving her, even if it were only a one-way street, even if my love was not accepted, acknowledged, or returned. Trusting God’s promise to meet my needs, living the rest of my life married without her love, yet hearing at the end of it all, “Well done, good and faithful servant”—it would all be worth it.

I did not know how He would do it, but I was going to trust Him. I said, “Yes,” and that has set the course for the rest of my life.

I called Chelle that night and left her a message. I told her that no matter what she did, I would never divorce her. Now, why that did not happen with my first marriage, I do not know. Perhaps then I had not been ready to hear the truth Gene had shared with me this time. I do not have the answer, but what I do know is that it was happening now. I was ready for whatever would come, and I would see it through till the end. Jesus was enough for me.

The message I left her that night did not fix things. But what did happen a brief time later was shocking. She called me one night and said, “Kirk, I need you to come home right away; I have a massive brain tumor.” Two thoughts instantly raced through my mind: “Oh, that’s terrible. Oh, that’s wonderful. Oh, that’s terrible …” Of course it was terrible. But at the same time, there was something to point toward, something that might explain all the turmoil. All the accusations, screaming, and hitting began to make sense. I was not a pathetic loser … my wonderful wife had a massive brain tumor. I rushed home, and the rest of our life together began. 

Within a week, she was in surgery and a tumor the size of a racquetball was removed from the left frontal lobe of her brain. Many of the physical symptoms she had been hiding from me—the numbness in the left side of her body, the loss of peripheral vision, the blackouts—slowly went away. Then the seizures and headaches came. Eventually, those would also be brought under control with medications. The fears and paranoia—now that was a different story. Through counseling we came to understand these originated from abusive trauma she suffered throughout her childhood, compounded by the brain injury from the tumor and the surgery. These would take longer to heal. We would need to deal with her personality and emotional challenges for our entire life together, and that would be OK because Jesus is sufficient—for us both.

We have stayed together and have been successfully married now for over thirty years. Chelle constantly inspires and teaches me so much. If courage is being willing and able to do what you are afraid of doing, to face your fears head on and push through, then every day my wife, Rachelle, is the most courageous person I know. I have learned to be more courageous myself by watching her. 

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from Chelle—and perhaps it is one of the secrets to my superpower of patience—is “other people are not like me.” They don’t fear the same things I do, but that does not mean their fears aren’t just as real and valid. Even if I think them illogical, silly, or foolish, those fears are not foolish to them! Chelle’s fears are just as powerfully real to her as mine are to me. Without recognizing and accepting that truth, I would miss seeing the courage in her and in others when they overcome those fears. Chelle faces and overcomes fears I will never face. When I accept that her fears of strangers, germs, crowds, etc., are very real and can be overpowering, then somehow, I find I have the patience to support her and work with her through those tough times. I now recognize the courage it takes for her to overcome her fears. This inspires me to face and overcome the very different fears that I experience. And now, when she wants to leave the party early because being around other people is overwhelming her, I find it is easy to say, “Cool, let’s go.” I do not question her or try to get her to stay. Recognizing her courage makes all the difference. 

So, where did this superpower come from? In my case, I believe any virtue I have in this area came from God’s grace amid the breaking. Some of the answers may lie in James 1:2–4: 

“Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4 NASB20)

For some reason, I was ready to hear my friend say, “Is Jesus sufficient for you?” My advice is, keep listening, hold close to Jesus, and when the time is right—perhaps amid your breaking—you also will be ready to hear. 

I may not have a clear prescription as to how you can acquire patience, but remembering that “other people are not like you” might help you learn to “see courage in the other,” and that is a good place to start. 

Also, be patient with yourself. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NASB20)

The featured image, “Lake District Ivy and Stone,” is courtesy of Lancia E. Smith and is used with her glad permission for Cultivating.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Tamara says:

    Excellent article. Real, encouraging, and very well written. Thanks for publishing this.

A Field Guide to Cultivating ~ Essentials to Cultivating a Whole Life, Rooted in Christ, and Flourishing in Fellowship

Enjoy our gift to you as our Welcome to Cultivating! Discover the purpose of The Cultivating Project, and how you might find a "What, you too?" experience here with this fellowship of makers!

Receive your complimentary e-book

Explore the

Editions Archive


organized for ease by author and category.

View Our Editions Archive