This year for Lent I am giving up Fear.
I just want to try 40 days without it. I might decide to take it back at the end, depending on how miserable things get if I’m not afraid. But then, if I do find I like life a little bit better without it, the Lenten season can be a jump start to shifting perspectives in my own life. Jesus says in Luke 9:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
From the beginning of his life, or nearly so, Jesus knew there was going to be a death involved. Not an accidental death or old-age death, like all of us anticipate, but an intentional death. He wasn’t looking forward to it — he wouldn’t asked for a more pleasant Plan B in the Garden of Gethsemane if he was — but he also didn’t run from it. Knowing that death was coming allowed him to do and say things that he couldn’t have said or done if he was trying to preserve his own life.
What does death mean for you and me?
I think we find out when we answer: What are you afraid to lose?
I’m afraid of losing my family, my husband or my kids. I’m afraid of losing my sense of perfection — or “pretty good”ness. I’m afraid of losing my image of having it more-or-less together. I’m afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid of not being strong enough, of having enough. I’m afraid that people will see me as empty and having nothing. I’m afraid of coming up empty.
What if I weren’t afraid of coming up empty?
It shows itself in a few main areas: I am afraid of trying and messing up. I am afraid of what people think of me. I am afraid of running out of energy and creativity.
What if I faced that? What if, instead of running from those things, I took some time to make friends with them or at least see them for what they are. Sort of like speed-dating with convicted felons.
So I’m going for broke.
I’m going after what God-in-me wants, regardless of the consequences. It means I’m going to be messy and tired and not-perfect and crazy. For it’s just a little while, so it’ll be OK.
What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
I would write more if I wasn’t afraid, afraid of running out of inspiration and time, afraid of people thinking it’s “cute” or “boring” or “unoriginal”.
I would love more if I wasn’t afraid, afraid of running out of energy and me-time, afraid of being used, afraid of running out.
I would speak more if I wasn’t afraid, afraid of bungling everything up, as is my tendency, afraid of saying the wrong words, afraid of people thinking I’m one of those weird people.
I would serve more if I wasn’t afraid, afraid that if I don’t horde my energy like an end-of-the-worlder I’ll run out and not have enough for me.
I would create more if I wasn’t afraid, afraid of messing up, afraid that I don’t really have it in me, afraid that I’m wasting my time, afraid that my time is better spent being more productive, afraid that I’ll use it all up and it will be gone.
I might start an after school program if I wasn’t afraid.
I might talk to strangers if I wasn’t afraid.
I might ask people I love really hard and uncomfortable and truth-freeing questions if I wasn’t afraid.
I might rely more on the Holy Spirit if I wasn’t afraid.