My breaths were short and shaky. A sinking feeling was coming over me, the kind where all the life in me seemed to drain right out of my body, and I couldn’t feel my legs.
I kept rehearsing what I was going to say while I started sweating up a storm. I was sweating as if I had run a half marathon, though I was briskly pacing down a 10-foot-long hallway.
This last-minute practice wasn’t easing my nerves, and my worry and mental cramming couldn’t prolong the inevitable. It was time. The moment had come. There was no turning back.
Does any of this sound familiar for you? These nerve-racking moments were brought to you by experiences I have had several times before a big work meeting, before a class presentation, before a big game, before a confrontational conversation at home, and before taking the stage to sing. These moments happen to all of us. Fear creeps in. It makes us go a little crazy. Sometimes we run, and sometimes we face the fear head on.
I hate being afraid. Fear has been a constant companion in my life, and it’s kept me from trying a lot of new things throughout the journey. The truth is, I don’t want to push myself. I want to be safe. Even though I creatively, socially, or emotionally suffer sometimes, I’d rather be comfortable than take a risk. When my fear bell starts going off in my head, ”This is dangerous! This might hurt! You might fail or be rejected or not make it!” I go in to lock down mode. The only thoughts in my mind are, ”Get me away from everything and everybody immediately. I need to be SAFE!”
Yet, I’m slowly learning to recognize the alarm and MOVE ANYWAY.
I am finding in this perfectly perilous journey that the fearful part of me isn’t ALL of me. It’s only a small part of me; and it can dwindle over time so long as I am persistent with feeding my courage.
It’s a lot easier to feed our fear than it is our courage (can I get an AMEN). This is because feeding fear usually looks like doing nothing or running down the well-treaded physical and mental paths that we have ventured down a thousand times before. It’s like muscle memory. It’s automatic.
Courage, on the other hand, is like carving a new path out of the over-grown, tiger ridden jungle. It’s not clear where to start, we don’t know what’s on the other side, and it takes all of our strength in the process. Courage can be tiresome. Courage is work. However, what I have found is that typically when I take the first step towards courage, the second step is a little easier. Then the third step becomes lighter than the second; and on it goes.
Courage doesn’t look like mightily wrestling fear out of our lives; rather, it often looks like cowardly taking the first step.
So, let’s face our fears today! When we’re afraid, let’s MOVE ANYWAY.
Tell how you’ve made some small steps toward courage this week by visiting my contact page!
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.