I mumble the words, a little unsure, “I fear people won’t like me.” But it doesn’t sound right; it doesn’t feel completely true. We go around the circle, sharing what Holley Gerth calls our signature struggles, the places where we feel fear time and again, and how it influences our choices of how we live. Other fears are shared aloud:
“I’m afraid I won’t be a good mom.”
“I’m afraid I don’t do enough.”
“I fear my kids won’t grow up to be happy.”
“I fear rejection.”
“I fear I can’t love well in other people’s mess.”
When it’s my turn, my loopy scrawl in my journal doesn’t look familiar anymore. I fear people won’t like me? Is that my fear? It feels close, but not quite the right fit. I have to think about this.
I am leading this group, and I love the opportunity to encourage my friends to recognize the strength within them, what is hiding just beneath the fear.
My friend who is afraid she won’t be a good mom overflows with love for her children, and she shows it to them everyday.
My friend who is afraid she doesn’t do enough gives and gives, serving on charitable boards and creating schools for underprivileged youth.
My friend who fears for her children’s future is a beacon of hope for her son, shining Christ’s light for all of her family, a presence of kindness and hope and encouragement.
My friend who fears rejection blesses people around her with her beautiful heart, the way she pours out Christ’s love without hesitation and gives fearlessly, tirelessly.
I am humbled.
I am also confused. Why do I struggle to share with these brave women who have become part of my heart? Why can’t I accurately name my fear?
I shared in my last post what I believe the reason is . . .
In the evening, after the kids are tucked in bed, my husband comes home from his men’s group. He has spent hours with men who are fearless in facing their fears . . .fearless in their willingness to come together and be vulnerable. They celebrate their not having it all together. They know if they are open with their friends about what they are most afraid, these men will speak truth into them and fight battles on their behalf. Battles of the spirit that are hidden, that the enemy wishes were kept in the darkness.
These warrior men refuse to let darkness surround the hearts of their friends, whom they love. And with courage and with faith, they stand with their friends as fears are brought into the light. For this they know is true:
“[G]reater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
With the Spirit within them they cast fear into the darkness and let His light reveal His strength within them. They claim His presence and lift up every worry, every anxiety, every fear and say ‘yes’ a bit more to the full life offered them to live. They let Jesus’ words shine in their hearts:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
I want this life too. I want this full life. I want to not miss out on anything He has. And my not being able to give Him a fear that I can feel but I can’t name makes me yearn for Him to come to me and reveal the cause of my trouble.
And together, my husband and I sit at the kitchen counter and pray. My heart is heavy because I have been so busy lately. My God-sized dream is to write a book and I work on it when I can. It is one of the invitations God has for me right now–this invitation to lean on Him and be with Him and trust Him to give me direction and time and words.
And Justin listens and I hear God say it through him, so true: “I have this beautiful gift to give you, and I do give it to you. But you are distracted by many things and you put up your finger, asking for one more minute . . saying ‘I am coming, I hear you . . let me do just this one thing over here first.’”
I have asked God to wait for me until it is convenient for me to come to Him. He gives me the heart to write and instead, I say ‘yes’ to this event, and then this commitment . . .and then the next thing, too.
And when I listen, and I ask God what my fear is, I can’t even speak it aloud at first. It is so shocking and new and true. The reason I say ‘yes’ to too many things is because . . .I believe I must prove that I am not boring.
I know. It sounds so silly, even more silly when I type it out here. But I think it’s true.
My fear is that I am boring to people. I am familiar with other agreements I have broken in the past–that I don’t have a voice and that I am not enough. This newly recognized fear–that I am boring–stuns me but makes perfect sense, too. My fear that people think I am boring has prompted me to commit to things I shouldn’t because I don’t want to say ‘no’ to an opportunity where I can prove that I am interesting.
I confess to God that night that I have cared more about what other people think of me than He does.
In prayer to Him, my husband’s hand holding tight to mine, I lay down my fear. I break the agreement that I am boring. I let Him show me what He sees in me.
And oh, what He shows me . . how this makes me smile.
Girls, He is the One who knows our name. He is the One who crafted us and delights in us and takes us dancing and running and into places where our voice sings and we are enough. Because He is.
As I have shared here before, I had no intention of being vulnerable and sharing here on the blog that my God-sized dream is to write a book. It was a big deal for me when I pointed that video camera at my face a month or so ago and I told you what I was setting out to do. And it is only because of Holley’s brave, encouraging heart that I ever considered sharing that truth with you all here. Because it is hard, sometimes, to be so vulnerable.
But Holley’s amazing book, You’re Made for a God-sized Dream has encouraged me to lay down my fears, trust this God of mine even more, and trust His community more, too.
So I’m going to do it again, and share with you something that makes me squirm a bit as I type. Becasue of that prayer on Monday night–because of the breaking of agreements–I saw how I needed to trust God with this gift He’s given me and say ‘no’ to the other things that were distracting me from what He now calls me to do.
And, just today, with God holding my hand, I finished my book proposal. And I actually sent it off in an email to an agent, too. I would love to be able to share with you that I have a contract and that the agent wants to work with me and that all is just peaches and cream. . . Okay, that would be awesome. . . .But that’s not the point.
I just know my Father invited me on an adventure with Him and I had to say ‘yes’.
Will you join me? Let’s say ‘yes’ to these God-sized dreams, girls. Let’s ask Him to show us what fears might be holding us back and let’s break those agreements. His full life is for me. His full life is for you.
Let’s jump in to all He has, not knowing what’s around the next turn. This full life with Him is just too good to miss.
I am also over at More to Be today–for the first time. Want to jump over there to read some encouragement? . . .”What is Whispered to you Heart“