Seven-year-old Josh held his father’s hand as they walked down East Broadway. Swimming lessons had concluded for the day, and Josh still refused to put his head underwater because he might drown. Sensing his dad’s disappointment, Josh conjured a genius idea that would enable him to live a worry-free life. “Dad,” he said, “I’m never going to take risks.”
Courage doesn’t come naturally to me. Fear does. At age seven, I was already making sacred oaths, dictating a dangerous mindset that could jeopardize my future. Seriously, can you imagine what life would be like if I never took another risk? My world mentality warped because I had aquaphobia?
A few friends from Jubilee Project have started a challenge called Word Vomit Wednesdays, where they give each other topics to blog about and post them later that day. Despite being written spontaneously, every post has been amazing. I’ve been wanting to join them for a while, but I doubted my ability to write something worth reading within a few hours. To me, writing is the greatest form of self-flattery. No one ever writes to make themselves look like an idiot (unless they actually are an idiot). Back in September, I made a goal to blog every two weeks, which I’ve clearly failed for that reason -- I’m afraid to look like an idiot.
My JP teammate Jenine gave me today’s topic: fear. Your post should focus on what some of your biggest fears are, physical or emotional, and how you deal with those fears and find growth through them.
My entire life has been an adventure of overcoming fears. I eventually learned how to swim, even though I look like limping turtle when I do. I forced myself to write and publish a novel. That’s one off the bucket list. I skipped college and moved to California. Yet for the few major fears I’ve defeated, twenty-three thousand more remain.
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” (ESV)
I have a vision of the person I want to become. He’s a combination of my greatest role models, people I know personally and people I don’t. He loves others unconditionally like Jesus did, without stopping to analyze whether or not they’re worthy of being loved. He’s not afraid of giving everything for Jesus because he knows this life is not all there is. I wish I could live like this guy. Let’s call him Bob.
If my goal is be like Bob, then my greatest fear is becoming the anti-Bob.
Deep down inside, I’m afraid of being an a--hole. I’m afraid of hurting the others, subconsciously or not. I’ve definitely done it before.
When I was eleven, I had my first crush. Her name was Amy. Go ahead and try to find her on my Facebook, you creeps. Just kidding, I tried myself. Didn’t succeed. She was super nice to me, but for some reason, my eleven-year-old brain couldn’t cope with my emotions and decided to be mean to her. I distinctly remember her asking me politely if I was born in America. My response? “Of course I was. Duh. What you’d think?” Josh, you sarcastic little prick. Way to draw in the ladies. Due to my unpleasantness, she stopped trying to talk to me.
I didn’t see Amy for the next four years. I regretted being rude to her, or rude in general. Then one Friday night, she came to pick up her little brother from fellowship. I spotted her figure behind the church doorway. For a second, I contemplated running up to her and saying, “HEY! You probably don’t remember me, but I’m the kid who was super rude to you four years ago and I just wanted to say I’m sorry, I actually had a crush on you and now this is awkward.” Or just simply apologizing to get rid of my guilt. But I didn’t.
Eleven years have passed, yet I still remember this! It's almost like a core memory (Inside Out reference yay). Every other times I hurt people with my words and realize it, something inside me plants a red flag that may never go away. I usually apologize, but sometimes I don’t. It’s awkward if too much time passes and the guilt sticks with me forever. I really hate being mean to people, and I hate myself when I do so subconsciously. I doubt anyone ever plans on being an a--hole.
This fear prompts me to be aware of how my words affect others, but it also prevents me from saying potentially encouraging words that may be taken the wrong way. I do believe we have the supernatural ability to speak words of truth given to us directly by God to others, if we're open and brave enough to say them.
I once felt God pushing me to tell a mother that He loved her son more than she did. When the thought entered my head, I did a double take. How does one tell a mother that anyone, even God, loves her children more than her? Apprehensively, I spoke the words. I’ve learned that whenever I’m afraid to do something positive, it’s usually a clear sign God wants me to do it.
The mother laughed. With joy, not with contempt. She told me that was exactly what she had told her small group and that I had just confirmed it. Oh. I guess that worked. Thanks God!
So what does this all mean? I know for certain I don’t want to be a fearful person. I’ve seen too many people unable to dunk their heads under troubling waters, floating in the safe areas of life but never going deeper. I think God wants me to take risks. He wants me to obey Him fearlessly and be willing to go wherever He leads me. I have no idea what that looks like, but I’m not afraid of the unknown anymore. The bottom of the pool still looks dark and scary, but I know it’s not that bad. After all, I’ve got God. And He’s more than enough for me.
P.S. Sorry if this was super word vomitty. Ironically, I was dealing with a lot of fear as I wrote this post (fear of being judged is also a big one for me). Thanks for reading and hopefully I’ll see you next week if fear doesn’t completely overcome me. Help me, Lord.
Also check out the other wonderful blogs by my fellow word vomitters! #WordVomitWednesdays
Taylor // Brian // Xing // Judy // Justin // Hnou // Esther // Jenine