I’ve found myself afraid a lot lately.
Afraid to walk to Starbucks by myself from my office.
Afraid to try a new haircut.
Afraid to send a difficult email to a prospective client.
Afraid to text a new friend.
Afraid to put my thoughts into writing.
There were different reasons for all of these fears, but the bottom line: fear, not faith, preoccupied my mind.
I wanted to be less afraid, or even unafraid, before I took whatever step was next – walking to get coffee, drafting the email, sending the text, writing down the thoughts. But what if I never stopped being afraid? What if the fear kept growing? What if I’m never ready?
At the beginning of my freshman year of college, once I came to know Jesus, I wanted my Bible to look well loved. There are two aspects of my personality at play here: One, I’m not so impressed by bright and shining things; worn-in and well-loved is how I prefer almost everything – books, jeans and friendships. And two, I wanted to be like everyone else, and in this situation, that was a highlighted Bible with specific passages that one could flip to quickly and share an important truth.
To mark up my own Bible, in addition to reading it, and highlighting and taking notes during every sermon or talk, I would use the index/glossary and look up specific words. Maybe I was just ahead of time with the whole word study thing!
One of the words I was enamored by was faith. I grew up Catholic, and in Catholic circles, we don’t really talk about our faith like you hear in other denominations. We would use words such as religion or Catholicism, but faith, walking with God, believer or quiet time were not part of my vocabulary. So here I am, a brand-new Christian, trying to learn a new vernacular, being introduced to Jesus’ grace for the first time, and also wanting to fit in with my new friends, so I started by looking up faith in the back of my Bible and tracing it through the New Testament so I could better understand what it was that I was doing. It was in this pseudo word study that I found a still favorite verse of mine, Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Based on the author of Hebrews’ definition of faith, there is a confidence component and a trust component. I’m confident that Jesus who He says He is, and because of that, I can trust that He will do what He said He will do.
Faith is not being unafraid. We don’t get less afraid by sitting and waiting.
I have several heroes of my faith – friends, mentors, writers – and when I look at their lives, I think, “Man, they’re so brave.” But that thought can be dangerous in my mind, because I often believe that they were unafraid when they took their step of faith.
The reality is: we are usually scared shitless before we take a big leap.
Even if we are confident about what we are called to, there’s still the voice saying, “What if you fail? What if you fail really big?”
Sometimes what you are seeking out to do isn’t worth failing, but most of the time it is. It’s the message hidden deep in your heart; it’s the mission you believe down to the tips of your toes. To not step into it, to not take the leap is to sacrifice who you are and even scarier – who you serve.
Honestly, the risks can seem equal on paper. Sacrifice your reputation by failing or sacrifice your message by staying silent and sitting still. But I’m learning that I always owe it to myself to try.
The key in taking risks is to hold your faith and your fear in equal hands, let the tension motivate you. Don’t wait until you’re unafraid, just wait until you have enough faith in a good God that the outcome doesn’t define you.