It’s been a week of learning what effect fear has on my life, how I live differently without it and where it holds me still. Here is what I know that I did not know one week ago today:
1. I have a fear problem. One week ago, I wouldn’t have said that I did. I’m not afraid of spiders (I mean, just look at that picture, isn’t he adorable?!), I do not worry about the toxins in my food supply, I don’t think about the bad things that could befall my children, I don’t even lock my car doors. I took that to mean that I didn’t have a problem with fear. But it turns out that fear has been hiding out in my life all along. Just seeing and acknowledging this is huge.
2. Fear strengthens lies. Truth and courage are closer relatives than I previously thought. Fear protects us from being known, often even from knowing ourselves, much less the people around us. When we are unafraid to see things as they are, the power of lies are broken and we are one step closer to freedom.
3. Fear is inefficient. I did not know how much fear plays into productivity, or lack thereof. By choosing to not be afraid, I was able to accomplish more things, more quickly and just as well. It wasn’t because I was trying to be more productive, it’s just that when I’m not worried about messing up, or having enough creativity/energy or looking foolish, I stop messing around and get to the point. Look. I wrote more times this past week than I did in the past three months. And I did as much (or more) usual stuff, despite being exhausted all week. I realized fear plays into my putting things off and my new motto has become: if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now.
4. Giving up fear is a sacrificial act; it is often difficult and painful. There was one day each week that I have to wait for a while at one of my kids is finishing an activity. I know one of the other moms there, but not well, and I usually spend the time working on things. But that morning I knew God was asking me to not be afraid of knowing what to say to this mom, to not be afraid of running out of energy from interacting, to not be afraid of wasting an opportunity to “get ahead” on some things. I made faces at God. I believe he rolled his eyes. And I consented. I did enjoy the conversation and I was exhausted at the end. But I was reminded that my life is to be a sacrifice and that giving up comfort on occasion is going to be a part of that. It’s actually a pretty reasonable trade off: life for Life.
5. Practice makes better. Giving up fear is a daily choice, and some days this week I chose better than others. The days I had things planned I knew where I was afraid and I chose in the morning what actions I would take, what words I would speak. It was harder to navigate the more open days. But I found that my “fearless muscle” got stronger and more instinctive the more I used it. I did a lot of pre-meditated choosing not to fear. And as I did that, I found myself making more in-the-moment choices to be fearless; it came more as a gut reaction than it has in the past.
For as much as I’ve learned, I still have a lot to grow in this area. I started strong, but it turns out it takes some genuine focus and strength to lead a fearless life. Some days I did better than others. Some days were harder than others. But all the days were better for having tried.