On Fear and Decisions and Living

“Fear works both ways, keeping you from doing things you might want to do and convincing you that you have to do things you don’t want to do.”

Emily P. Freeman (The Next Right Thing)

For some people, quarantine has brought up dozens of fears—and that surprises them. But for many more of us, I think we would say that quarantine has only exacerbated the fears we already lived with in our every day.

These days, it is a fearful thing to walk out your front door. It’s a fearful thing to go to the stores.

We feel afraid for large reasons, small reasons, and reasons we don’t even understand.

But…

We were already fearful people. Fear is nothing new to us.

But not being afraid is.

And doing something in spite of being afraid surprises us.

—-

I have always been afraid of making decisions. Always. In fact, it is a very rare thing for me to make spontaneous decisions, and life-altering decisions are nearly, entirely extinct in my life.

Whereas some people need to have others in their lives to tell them when to say “no”, I need people in my life to tell me to do things, say “yes”, try different things, and do the things that scare me to death.

Moving up here was one of the largest decisions of my life. And I didn’t want to make that decision because I was afraid of losing what I had and finding that I hadn’t anything to replace it with.

Some of us fear change because we live in a world of comparisons. And we always come up short.

Or we can’t seem to have the courage to try something different in case we don’t like it.

Or we are convinced that people, places, and ourselves are either all bad or all good—not both. This mentality can keep us from becoming Real like the Velveteen Rabbit. We are afraid to love and afraid to be loved.

—-

These days I have had dear people gently pushing me to just make decisions. And to not let fear be the reason I make them or don’t.

Friends, what would you do if you were your realest, truest self? If fear weren’t yanking your hair, who would you be? What would you do? Where would you go? How would you love? How would you lead? How would you follow Jesus?

Are our critical spirits simply a cover-up for fear?

Are we letting our pasts color the present?

Are we willing to lay our need for perfection (in ourselves and/or in others) at the foot of the cross, knowing that the Perfect One died for all our imperfections?

Could we breathe and live light instead of dark?

For once, could we simply just love and be loved by Jesus and others?

What would it take for us to uncross our arms and stop trying to protect ourselves from threats that aren’t real?

Could we embrace weakness and frailties if they allow others to see the strength of Jesus in us?

Would we be willing to try things that scare us, attempt things that break our hearts, and live a life of right risk?

What might our relationships with Jesus and others look like if we just allowed ourselves to be our realest selves? If we did the things we are passionate about and let our love for Jesus be the fuel behind our passions?

Oh friends, who might we be if we lived from a place of trust and rest in Jesus and the good plans of God for our lives, instead of in the dark spaces of fear and possible regret?

—-

“Doesn’t it all come down to trust? We fear we’ll pick wrong, turn wrong, move too soon or not soon enough. We fear we’ll be out of God’s will, miss his blessing, and miss our way. We fear our motives, our perception, and our place in the world.”

Emily P. Freeman (The Next Right Thing)

Friends, our choices or lack of choices shape our lives. Our decisions determine the roads we travel. But no decision, no choice is beyond the hands of God. We are safe, we are held, and we are loved. No matter what.

Jesus, you never promised to answer our every question, to give us every piece of clarity we think we so desperately need. But you promised to be with us, we know you love us, and we want to trust you in spite of all we cannot see. In the face of everything we fear, we want to follow you more than our fears. When life looms large and fears weigh hard, we want to lean into you, knowing that you hold it all anyway. All of it. All of us. Safe in the hands that were pierced for us. Held in the heart of the One that has loved us from before the beginning of time.

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