“I think you’re scared of everything.”
His words had barely escaped his mouth before I started refuting them. I began to cite all of the scary things I’d done. I had gone to China at barely 18 knowing no one. I had moved across country another summer to take an internship in a city where once again I hadn’t known anyone. I’d spoken in front of large groups of people. I had done lots of scary things!
He slowly began to back peddle – maybe he’d made too quick of an assessment. Maybe he was wrong.
But then something switched – as I continue to furiously babble my defense – his gaze narrowed – he almost seemed to look through me – and he said – “no, I think I was right the first time, you are scared of everything.”
I can’t remember what I had said to warrant the switch back. But I suddenly felt powerless to defend myself. I was defeated – because what I was scared of most at the moment was that maybe – just maybe – what he said was true.
His very words terrified me. Maybe this sometimes odd, yet often oddly insightful seminary classmate could really see into my soul – and maybe deep down I was scared – more scared than I even realized. And if he could see that – who else could?
It’s been at least 10 years since that conversation. It’s doubtful that the man I was speaking to even remembers it – yet it’s come to my mind a number of times over the years. In moments where I’m paralyzed with fear that keeps me from moving, I hear his words.
But at some point I realized something – it’s okay if I’m scared. The problem isn’t being scared – the problem is letting fear immobilize me. The problem is letting fear have the last or loudest word. The problem is letting the fear define me – or letting the fear of being afraid define me.
If I were having that conversation today I’d like to think it would be different. Perhaps instead of a rapid defense, I’d say – you may be right. I might be scared of a lot of things. But I can say each day I learn a little bit more that fear does not have to control me.
I’ve realized more and more there aren’t two kinds of people – the fearful and the fearless. Rather, there are those who let fear rule them and those who daily choose to give their fears to the One who promises to help us overcome them.
This year I’ve decided to step out in faith and to begin to embrace one of my passions and also one of my fears – writing. Every time I think about commiting myself to writing more, I automatically come up with lots of excuses. What if no one reads it? What if it’s a waste of time? What if I say something and it’s interpreted wrong? But I realized that perhaps I’m missing the real question – what if I’m using excuses to ignore a call God has on my heart?
I hope that you will join me on this journey. It might not be a journey of writing. But a journey of embracing the things that scare you – and taking big or small steps each day to tell fear that it doesn’t have the last word.
What is something you’re afraid of that you want to embrace this year?