I sat next to my husband on a mountain path bench on the outskirts of Denver, Colorado. The crisp spring air chilled our faces and shortened our breaths. We’re not used to being 7,000 feet above sea level. Snot ran out of my red, frozen nose. Despite my fit body by bootcamp, I panted like an out-of-shape husky who hadn’t pulled a sled in a while. My head ached, my skin itched from dryness, and I believed there was not enough balm in the world to keep my lips moist.
And yet, I felt more alive than I ever had.
We were in Denver for intense counseling at a center for pastors in crisis. I was burntout, depressed, and full of anxiety.
“I don’t want to live the rest of my life in fear,” I said to my husband.
I cried. Again.
“I can feel the weight of everything I’ve held myself back from trying, every path I’ve refused to go down, and every dream that I cowered from making a reality. It’s pulling me inward towards implosion. I can’t live like this anymore. I’ll die.”
Husband pulled me close to him and let my revelation linger. Mountainous, spring melting nature received my voice. The signs of the new season surrounding us — green with life, not envy — displayed their approval.
“Do one thing that scares you every day.” The great Eleanor Roosevelt often spoke wisely. This quote of hers packs a punch for me. How about you?
A life paralyzed by fear is one half-lived, if that. Sadly, I know this by experience. (Read more here.)
Methinks Mrs. Roosevelt not only lived courageously, but that she lived the message of Scripture, as well. A courageous life — one in which we step out, ignore the negative speak in our heads, and outright override the butterflies in our guts — is not only exhilarating. It is a life that requires abandon and not a small amount of trust in someone or something outside of ourselves.
God speaks not only to the peeps in the Bible, but to us today through the power of the Holy Spirit. One four-word divine greeting runs consistently through both Testaments: “Do not be afraid.” Have you noticed that? Any idea how many times God, God’s messenger, or Jesus says this in Scripture? 365 times.
Hmm…that’s one time for each day of each year that we live. Might it be that God has this message for us every day that we live?
“Do one thing that scares you every day.”
I see a trend.
After a week of deliberating, I made my decision. I interviewed two fine gentlemen, each representing two fine companies, last week. I need a consultant. After our conversations both men and I texted and emailed back and forth. Most of the communications were strictly business, but we cracked jokes and blessed one another, too. Sometimes I don’t need much to feel an affinity, even a loyalty, towards someone. I easily arrived at this emotional place with both of these guys.
So I wasn’t excited about what I had to do this morning. Yes, I would please the one who would get my business. I’d also disappoint the other. My stomach churned. I thought seriously of wimping out and emailing a “thanks, but no thanks” note to the gentleman with whom I would not be working. A type of “Dear John” letter. That’ll work, said an appeasing voice in my head. It’s not like you’re leaving him hanging. You are telling him, after all.
A year ago, I would have caved. So great was my fear of disapproval that I shuddered at merely the thought of disappointing someone. Actually disappointing someone was almost unbearable. Call me turtle, for I often pulled my head and extremities inside my protective outer shell. If you let a person down, she or he won’t like you, says Shame. I know it’s Shame, because I hear her voice all of the time. Shame gets on a roll. Then that will reinforce what you constantly dread — that you are unlikable, that you are unreliable, and that being in relationship with you is a bad deal for people. I could go on, you know.
But today Shame did not win. I was still nervous as all get out, but I sensed the presence of God, and I felt the Spirit’s guidance. Honor your brother in Christ with respectful treatment and honesty, the Spirit whispered. Call him, talk to him, and free yourself of your fear, self-hate, and shame.
Deep breath. Breath prayer. Dial.
Whew! says Shame. That was close! Now leave the news on his voicemail and check this off your list.
Not cool, says the Spirit. You know what to do.
I leave a message on the man’s voicemail, but I also call his cell phone number. He answers, and my heart rate quadruples. I share my news, and tell him the reason why I decided as I did.
“I wanted to tell you in person,” I say. I hear my voice cracking. Oh my…can he?
“I really appreciate that, Angie,” he says. He emphasized the word “appreciate.” I could hear camaraderie when he spoke my name. “I honestly do. Thank you for giving me the compliment of a phone call.”
I exhaled, and I felt as if yuckiness was flying away, off my shoulders, and out of my core.
I think that maybe God did, too.
“[God] has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1: 7, New Living Translation.
What about you? Is fear holding you back from living fully? How can God help you overcome?