Saturday, February 28, 2009

On Fear

Boo! Scared ya, didn't I? If only fear was really that easy. Our responses to the spider in the shower, to the word "dentist," to commitment, or to success or failure uncovers our fears. Fear is one of those fundamental realities to life. It's a requirement; as long as your heart is beating, you're fearing something. Several weeks ago I discovered the following poem:

Don't look, you might see.
Don't listen, you might hear.
Don't think, you might learn.
Don't make a decision, you might be wrong.
Don't walk, you might stumble.
Don't run, you might fall.
Don't live, you might die.

I don't know who wrote it, but it's brilliant, and it leaves a little sting. Dealing with fear could be the parallel of living. Notice we don't conquer it, we redirect it. Most of us don't live with extreme fears, but you may discover more than you thought if you look again. I really started thinking about this topic a few weeks ago when I decided to start an organizing business. I am passionate about the idea, love where it could go, and can actually see it working. I'm taking little steps -- itty-bitty steps -- toward accomplishing the first goals. I was confident until I met my first potential client, then it hit me: what if I can't do it? What if I don't have the answers she needs? I've raced to the porch but hesitated at the front step, skeptical about turning the knob on the door. Am I afraid of success? Or am I afraid of failure? What if I'm afraid of both? Let's call the whole thing off.
... On second thought, I'm going to choose to put one foot in front of the other, to walk up those steps, turn the knob and walk through the door. As I've said, everyone is afraid, but not everyone deals with it. I would like to deal with it. I am going to create a plan of action for this next week, including phone calls to make, projects to complete, a business name to register, and the list goes on. The point is that I'm going to do it.

I've boiled this particular fear of failure down to two options. One, I'm afraid of failing in front of other people. Two, I'm afraid of failing in front of myself. It is humiliating and discouraging to put everything you are into something only to have it not work out.

Fear can barricade us from love; we don't want our hearts broken again. It can turn us into Mr. and Ms. Desperate, biting at every lure sparkling with potential interest. It can control our weight, our time, our money, our possessions, and our goals. Every time we give in to it, we add another bar to our cage.

I think about all the opportunities I've missed because I was too afraid to try. Imagine what our lives would look like if we redirected our fears into something that gave us power to do anything in our hearts! The most effective solution I can think of is this: fear God and fear no other. If I feared God more than I feared other people and more than I feared myself, I wouldn't fear failure. I would press on, down whatever path God led me, confident that He would open and close doors as needed.

The opposite of fear is freedom, which is precisely what we have in Jesus, our Redeemer. We are loved and forgiven completely and taken care of down to the last detail. That means we don't have to worry so much about ourselves! We are free to love and forgive in the same way we have been loved and forgiven, for there is an endless supply of it! You can't out-love the love Another has for you. Fear Him. Allow Him to govern the path of your life, and enjoy the view. I often step back and remind myself to chill out. I need to channel my fear to the place it will do good, not harm. I must conclude with Ephesians 3:14-21 because it is so powerful and so freeing:

14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Now go deliver that speech, or jump out of that plane, or introduce yourself, or kill that spider. You've been given strength and freedom, because of who you fear.

1 comment:

  1. loved this. with my whole heart. thanks for sharing and i'm SO SO proud of you for stepping out in your own story! i can't wait to see what may unfold.