Here is what I know now about fear that I did not know a week ago:
1. Wanting is scary. Do it anyway.
Wanting is scary because it is risky. We have to open up our soul and see who we really are. Our souls are wild animals and if we wake them up, we can’t control them and they might not behave well. Also, if we want then we take a risk because we won’t always get what we want. When we want, we are playing Russian Roulette with disappointment.
So some of us turn our wanters off. We sometimes when we do this, we hide behind faith words like “dying to self” and “sacrificial service”. But you don’t get to die unless you are alive. You can’t give God your deepest desires when you haven’t allowed yourself to know what they are. What we’re actually doing is running from who we are what might happen if some of it leaks out.
Wanting is scary and you will get hurt. But you will heal and you’ll be more alive because of it.
2. Trying is scary, do it anyway.
My kids play American Idol sometimes, performing songs for each other. They always make it to Hollywood; they are so talented. Yesterday my oldest played for the first time in a while and I saw something I’d never seen before. Instead of trying his best, he made the worst screechiest sounds ever.
That’s what we learn to do. We learn to not try. We learn to mess up intentionally. Children sing and put their heart in it and don’t care what people think. Adults lose the the ability to do that. We don’t want to mess up, so we don’t try, or if we do, we make sure everyone knows we’re not taking it seriously.
Trying means you will fail, so it is not a safe bet — if a safe bet is what you’re after. Trying means you will probably not make it to Hollywood, but at least you will have your truest messy self, which is the very best any of us can offer.
3. Scales and jeans are scary, and not worth my time.
I am so tired of trying to fit into my old jeans and I gave up on it this week like I’ve never given up on it before. I ate all of the good things. ALL of them. Nuts and cookies and tacos and pie. I’ve got some pudge to show for it, but I can’t tell you how much I gained because I didn’t look. Because it doesn’t matter.
I ran across a local fitness trainer and for about ten minutes, considered going to her and buying her weight loss materials. But then I realized I just don’t care. It is not worth my time.
I sometime feel, when it comes to my appearance, that I’ve got to live someone else’s dream. Yes, I’d pick looking better than I do. But I realized that I feel like I should look better because other people say so more than I want to look better. I read a blog post about how scales do not measure our value. Thin people are not better than not-thin people. I didn’t realize I had bought into that.
Because the truth is, people who eat tacos are better than the people who don’t; they are superior in every way.
I’ll want to look better someday. Maybe tomorrow. But for today, it feels really good to not care.
4. Letting go of fear means letting go of control.
I messed up last week. God asked me to go talk to a homeless person and I told him no, because I had stuff I had to do. Plus I had groceries in the back of the car. Then I went back and talked to the homeless guy later when it worked better in my schedule. This was not the point, according to God, the point was being available and letting go of control. So I’m going to have a re-do on the assignment.
Letting go of fear is mostly about letting go of the control we think we have over the universe and our life. Our planning and self-protective efforts are like the sets at Disneyland: really convincing, but just make-believe and plywood in the end. Letting go of fear means acting like it’s plywood and not the real thing.
5. Mostly I worry about what people think.
I’ve found I spend far too much of my life running my own PR campaign. This surprises me, because part of my image was that I didn’t care what people think.
The funny part is that I actually think have control over what people think. Public perception is not an entirely predictable beast; what’s cool from one person is not what’s cool from another, what’s cool today is definitely not what’s cool tomorrow. And when it comes to personal interaction, who they are has more impact on what they think about me than who I am.
So here I am trying to make it so people will think well of me when that’s neither my job or within my power. Crazy!
6. It helps to name your fears.
When my sister sent a reminder text last Thursday that Friday was Pi(e) Day — 3.14 — my first picture was of all of my Facebook friends and a few strangers eating pie at my house. Wouldn’t that be fun?! I was so excited I couldn’t sleep. And then the fears came. All they say at first is “This is a bad idea, your worst. You shouldn’t do it.” Most of the time we believe that argument, but we’re better off asking for an explanation.
Let your fears get specific: What if I don’t have enough pie? What if no one comes? What if people think I’m weird? What if a psychotic person comes and then harasses my family for the next five years? What if this isn’t appropriate? What if it’s awkward?
When fears get specific, they get ridiculous. Not enough pie is easily solved. No one coming was already the case; the point of asking people to come is the only possible way to change that. Low possibility of psychotics, and so on. Most of our fears are not rational, so it’s good to give them a listen.
I had the Pi(e) Day party and 19 people came to my house for pie, which is 19 more than none. Everyone had pie and some even left with a slice or two. No clinically-diagnosed crazy people came. And it was so fun. It was the best use of my time and apples, berries, sugar, flour and coconut oil, at least for that day.
It was a good idea, one of my best. Exactly the opposite of what my fears suggested.