Thanks to Facebook, I discovered recently that it has been seven years (to the week!) since God ambushed me with this idea of living fearlessly--because in Him, I can. Seven years since it occurred to me that the concept of “fake it til ya make it” could apply here (and it would have to, because fear had a strong hold on me!). Seven years since the realization that He created me with a spirit of power, and love, and of a sound mind---FOR REAL, in 2 Timothy 1:7, go check it out!
SEVEN YEARS. My, how time flies!
During that seven years, many things have happened. I married my husband, he adopted my (our) son, my daughters have graduated from high school and experienced further education, love, fun, more loss and grief, I went back to school and finished my bachelor’s degree (that took FIVE out of these seven years), I changed career paths, and recently I have begun my master’s degree and embarked into new ministry partnership with my sister while continuing my work with the church. WHEW! All of this because I chose to fake fearlessness and be open to what God has for me, what He has placed in me, and what He is asking me to do.
I can’t lie…there has been a whole lot of wrestling with God in the trenches of that list and a whole lot of fear. Fear of failure, fear of consequence, fear of missing the “right” door to go through, all have been alive and well in me. There have been times of pause and times of hesitation. The beauty of all of it is this: MY GOD IS BIGGER. He is bigger than my fears, bigger than the boxes we try to place Him in, and bigger than the walls of any building we try to house Him in. I choose to trust that and to trust that He has equipped us all. And I choose to trust that He is willing to work through my fears and doubts.
As part of one of my classes I read the book “Starting Something New: Spiritual Direction for Your God-Given Dream” by Beth A. Booram. In the very beginning of the book she makes this statement, “What makes a Spirit-inspired dream important is that it is deposited in you! You are the unique receptacle, and you are the only person who can give birth to it—it’s your baby! God, who knows you intimately through and through, who has fashioned you inside and out and has been with you through thick and thin, has deposited the seed of this dream in you for you to harvest.” I have held tight to this idea that God has a uniquely designed dream planted in me that matches how He has uniquely designed me. I’m passionate about this belief that comes from Psalm 139:14 that says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that “Your works are good, Lord”. So, I am willing to buy into this idea that the dreams that He plants in us are also fearfully and wonderfully made, and are good.
We also had the privilege of spending a day with Beth Booram engaging in some spiritual formation exercises and hearing more of her own story. I loved hearing more about her own stories of transition and discovery. And, I have to be honest and say that still, quiet, contemplative work is hard for me. So, the formation exercises were a HARD mental and spiritual workout! And, like any other exercise program, it turned out to be OH SO GOOD for my mind and my soul, like running the stairs is OH SO GOOD for my butt.
There was one particular exercise that has left its mark on me in a big way. Beth brought some photos with her that she laid out on a table and had each of us choose one we were most drawn to. Mine was this beautiful baby bird being held ever so gently in the open palm of a human hand. At first, I thought of myself as the bird. I thought about the gentle care this little creature deserved and possibly needed. I considered how hard it is for us to offer ourselves that gentleness, and how important that message is for every single one of us. That whole idea of being uniquely crafted indicates that we need to be uniquely cared for. As I embark on this journey of a master’s program, a new business, and balancing my existing job and my family I want to remember to treat myself that gently and maintain an open palm, not to choke any of what is happening.
Likewise, the bird could be the dream or vision God has planted. The open palm could be mine. How am I going to nurture it without clinging so tightly that I harm it? Our desire to over-control something can be overwhelming!
As time has passed I have continued to reflect on the picture of the little bird. I think God holds us with an open palm. Gently and safely caring for us unless we choose to fly away. Part of His very design in us is our ability to think things through, to question, to understand, to empathize, to play, to move and react to the world around us, and to rest and reflect. His palm is always open, even when we chose not to rest there, allowing us to return time and time again.
All of this from what was a hard mental and spiritual workout.
So, here is some food for thought. A mental and spiritual workout, so to speak. How are you caring for yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Are you building those muscles in all areas? We were created to be whole and healthy within a design that is unique to each of us. YOU are a work of art. Will you handle yourself with gentleness? Will you be open to what God is doing in and around you? Will you have fun and enjoy whatever that is? Can you muster up what it takes to be authentic and move fearlessly even when fear creeps in? Will you wrestle with God when you don’t agree or don’t understand? Because living fearlessly is not really minus fear. It is simply doing the work that allows us to keep moving through it.