This past week, I spoke at one of our Women’s Events at church along with three amazing friends. Even writing that sentence makes me laugh, because I am not a speaker nor have I ever thought I would do something like this. I’m a writer. I write words on paper, and people read them. That’s my comfort zone, wheelhouse, niche….whatever you want to call it, that’s it.
So when I was approached by my dear friend and mentor to share my story at this event, my first thought was a big, fat NOPE. I think I may have laughed. Or thrown up. I don’t even know.
But what I said was….yes. And I am still shaking my head, because I’ve questioned myself many times how that happened. The people-pleaser in me probably just didn’t want to disappoint her, but I was scared to death. And I know my friends were too.
You know, fear does some crazy things to us. It puts us in a box, locks the door, and throws away the key. It makes us hide behind the things we do best and never venture out into the unknown. It builds walls, shuts people out, and isolates us from those who care. It keeps us from sharing our true selves, scars and all.
And it is a liar.
Three years ago almost to the day, I created this blog, and I even wrote my first blog post. But other than showing it to a few close friends, I never told anyone else about it for a long time. A year, to be exact.
I was terrified. I knew that by sharing my work, I was opening myself up to being vulnerable, not only about my writing but also about what I would inevitably share. And it paralyzed me.
But throughout that year, God worked on me and brought me to a place of surrender. He reminded me that He does not call the equipped, He equips the called. He reminded me that fear is not of Him, it is a skilled liar, but lies flee in the presence of truth.
So I shared my blog with the world; and with it, a post on Fear. And after some time, encouragement, and support, I was ok with it. Comfortable. Or at least, more comfortable than I was. The introvert in me will never be completely comfortable with vulnerability; but at least, it no longer crippled me.
You’ve got to be kidding me, God.
And there it was again. The fear I thought I’d left behind was back and more powerful than before. It told me I am not a speaker. It told me my mess is ugly, un-sharable, and full of shame. It told me people would look at me differently. It told me to let someone else do it. It told me to quit.
But I didn’t.
Not because I’m brave. Not because I had conquered my fear. Nothing as grand as that. I wish!
No, it’s because of the promise God made to us in Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” And it just so happens, this passage was the one we were using as our key scripture for the night, so fancy that.
He promises that nothing will be wasted. No sin, no pain, no dark day, or sleepless night. He promises to bring beauty from ashes, and we believed that sharing our stories was part of fulfilling that promise.
But I was still afraid. Terrified, really. I didn’t sleep for weeks and could think of little else. I was beginning to worry that I really couldn’t do it. If I was this afraid, then maybe I shouldn’t.
However, the night before our event, a sweet friend saw my fear and said these words to me, “Sometimes you just have to do it afraid.”
Why is it that sometimes the simplest of words can stop us in our tracks and somehow change us…
Do it afraid.
She reminded me that when God asked Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, Moses gave every excuse in the book of why he couldn’t. But God promised him that he could. And he did. Even afraid.
We tell our kids to do it all the time. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” And “Just Do It.” So why don’t we listen to ourselves?
Our youngest son plays football, and he loves playing defense. Ok, he loves to tackle. That’s his favorite. So when the Quarterback was injured at the beginning of the season, his coaches decided to try Hayes in the position. The thing is, Hayes didn’t want to play Quarterback. It scared him. Too much responsibility. Too much room for error. Too much – no, thank you.
It somewhat surprised me though. It’s an important role, and this is the same kid who told me my next tattoo should be “Hayes is the GOAT.” So it didn’t add up. But he was mad about it. For the next week, we heard how much he did NOT want this and had to do our best to change that.
But he was scared. He had never played that position before, and he didn’t think he could do it. He was afraid to fail.
On some level, we are all afraid to fail.
But no guts no glory, right? So he finally just went out there and gave it his best shot, and he did it afraid. Turns out, he wasn’t half bad at it. In fact, he was pretty good. And better yet, he even liked it!
And the same happened when my friends and I stepped out in faith & fear and did what we felt God calling us to do. Share our stories in front of over 500 women. Now I wouldn’t say I loved it or that it was even great. My hand was shaking the entire 9.2 minutes I was talking. But I walked away knowing I had been obedient. And the testimonies that have been shared as a result of that evening have been incredible. To God be the glory.
What would happen if we would stop letting fear dictate our path? What if we stopped letting it cripple us and keep us from our God-given purpose and calling? God knows our strengths and weaknesses. He’s not going to call us to do something we can’t. If He is leading us to take a leap of faith, He’s going to equip us to carry it out.
“Now may the God of peace…equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen.” – Hebrews 13:21
How many blessings have we missed because of fear? How many opportunities lost because we are afraid?
I think I’d rather not know.
But the best part of our story is that it isn’t over, and we don’t have to let it happen again. We can stop letting fear bully us and keep us from all God has in store for our lives. And we can start doing it now.
Photo: Megan Holland//Opendoor Church