Disclaimer: To those who may be offended by the title, I apologize. But please, hear me out.
Lately that statement has been my pep talk to myself when I’m fairly certain I’m feeling God’s gentle leading but fear and doubt creep in, make me want to stop, and then hope I’m not found out.
Fear is my gut reaction to anything I don’t know or don’t understand. So basically, anything outside of my comfort zone. If I’ve never done or experienced xyz, it scares me. It’s just my nature. But I’m learning that fear is crippling. Fear is a great enemy of growth and success. Fear can prevent you from realizing your dreams. Fear keeps you in the realm of the unknown. But most importantly:
Fear prevents you from becoming the person God intends for you to be.
What I have to remember is that God is bigger than my fear. (That’s not always easy to do in the heat of the moment when emotions are running high.) I believe that He put each of us on this earth for a purpose greater than ourselves and desires to see us walking in those purposes.
I noticed something recently: It seems that the answer to a problem is often counterintuitive to the problem.
I’ll try to explain what I mean.
What dance showed me.
#lifelessonsfromdance started out as a joke, but has proven its merit on more than one occasion, so bear with me.
An instructor is helping a follower learn how to properly execute a relaxed, controlled turn. He offers her the signal and energy she needs to turn but she starts to feel off balance as soon as she starts turning. To keep herself from falling mid-turn, she tenses her upper body and tightens her grip on her instructors hand above her head, relying on him to keep her up. But instead of helping herself, she put unnecessary strain on her instructor, and prevented her body from doing what it was designed to do. In essence, she crippled herself. The correct response should have been to relax her upper body and engage her tummy as soon as she started to feel wobbly, letting her core do its intended job.
It’s our own fault.
In that moment of panic her instincts told her to “hang on!”, but, in that instance, the right answer was to actually ignore those instincts and instead “let go”.
Don’t misunderstand me though, instincts are not always bad. God gave us instincts, and they are incredibly useful. I just don’t think they are always the right answer.
I’m reminded of an experience the disciples had in Matthew 14:22-33. Specifically, Peter. After the feeding of the 5,000 Jesus left the disciples in a boat and went out alone to pray, as was a habit of His. Time passed, and strong winds had caused the boat to drift a good ways out. Shortly before dawn the disciples see a figure walking toward them on the water. Terrified by the sight, they yell “ghost!”, but Jesus quickly identifies Himself. Peter then calls out to Jesus, “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come out and meet you.” (I can imagine the other disciples looking at him bewildered and thinking ‘Has he completely lost his mind?!’) Jesus simply says “Come”, so Peter steps out and starts walking. Before long he remembers the strong winds and looks down at the rough seas beneath him. Fear sweeps in, and he starts to sink. “Save me!” he cries out. Immediately, Jesus reaches out to catch him, and calmly says, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?”
To me, that boat represents a comfort zone. Now, I love comfort zones just as much as the next person. Okay, maybe a little more.. Haha. They’re warm and fuzzy, all my friends live there, there are no surprises, it’s great. Nothing to be afraid of. But it’s when we let our fear keep us from venturing outside of those comfort zones that we cripple ourselves, just like the follower did when she clung to something that couldn’t help her. Clinging too tightly to our comfort zones can keep us from fully walking into God’s calling on our life and living the way we should live. (Prov. 3:5&6, Ecc. 12:13)
Okayyy, now what?
How does one break through the chains of fear? The answer is simple.
Step out of the boat.
Our instincts typically tell us to leave the big, scary thing alone. It’s a self preservation response. But remember, fear keeps you in unknown’s territory. You’re not scared of the things you know. To overcome a fear, you have to face it. When you do that, the unknown becomes known, and then there’s little to no reason to be afraid of it anymore. Yes, the boat is safe and comfortable, I know, but sometimes we have to do things that scare us. Safety and comfort are good things, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be stuck in the same place until you die. I know I don’t. I don’t believe that’s God’s calling on anyone’s life.
It may not always be a one and done thing, either. Depending on what boat God is asking you to step out of, you may have to choose every day to ignore your fear and take another step forward. But you won’t be in it alone! Peter’s experience teaches us that not only can we “walk on water”, but that when we do, God will be there to help us when we need Him. We need only ask. Every step we take is a step closer to Him and His purpose for us, so what do we really have to lose?
I won’t sit here and tell you that it’s easy, cause it’s not. If you’re a feeler like me, emotions can make everything messy and confusing. But even being someone who’s predisposed to emotional breakdowns, I made (and am making) it through. One wet step at a time.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13