I thought I had overcome all my fears...until recently. I've come to see fear as an opportunity to look deeper and ask myself questions like, "Why do I worry about this?" And, "Where is my heart?" I wonder how many of the fears that we have are related to our past bad experiences. We're afraid because we don't want to go through the same type of experience all over again!
I remember taking swimming lessons when I was eleven. I loved the water and caught on pretty fast. The pool we went to had a high diving board - probably about 10 feet above the pool - and it was a lot of fun jumping from way up there into the water. Toward the end of the summer, I noticed people diving - not just jumping - from the high dive. It looked so beautiful, and elegant as people soared through the sky like dolphins, and then deep down into the water below! I had learned to dive and was pretty comfortable with it, so I wanted to try diving from the high dive, but I wasn't sure I could do it. I finally mustered up enough courage to try. Down into the water I went. And I did a belly flop. Because I had jumped or dived or whatever you want to call it, from higher in the air, when I hit the water, it hurt my stomach - it sorta stung, if I remember correctly. As I swam to the edge of the pool, I had a decision to make. I could either try diving from the high dive again and again until I succeeded or I could let that pain hold me back.
And such is life. We can let our past experiences scar us, or we can try again, realizing that we all make mistakes, and not all bad experiences were our fault.
Oh, it's so much easier to be afraid! I tend to retreat - like a wounded soldier. After fighting for something I thought was worth while, and being rejected - losing the battle - I'm ready to retreat! Don't say those things again - because someone else might not like it. Don't totally be myself, because, inevitably, there's something in me people won't like. Don't ask those questions, because someone might think you're weird, in fact, you might not even get an answer! Don't be vulnerable. Don't ever take risks. And so I put on my facade. I live in my fake - but comfortable bubble - not letting people see the real me. But, it's not fulfilling. Because that's not how I was created to live.
Back to the pool....With some encouragement from others, I tried again to dive off the high dive. It only took me one or two tries before I was soaring through the sky, and deep down into the water slow, like the others I had watched. And I wanted to do it again! And again! Because it was so much fun.
It takes a lot of courage to move past the past. It takes a whole lot of faith to believe that someone else won't react in the same way....To believe that somebody different could love an aspect of you that really bothered someone else. But I think it's worth it. Life is so much more fulfilling when we live in "the real". Even when we live "on the edge". Pushing the limits, questioning the status quo, and risking the chance of being disappointed. Being kind even when it's not appreciated. Being honest even when it's not what people want to hear. That's where I'm really supposed to be. I think that's where we're all supposed to live, because you never experience growth if you let your fear push you back to where you're comfortable!
Lest it sounds like I'm advocating something a little crazy, let me clarify, don't be fearless just for yourself. Be fearless for God. He made you the way you are for a very specific reason. And He loves you more than anyone else ever can. He even loves that thing about you that turns off someone else. And remember, no one else can live the life you've been called to live! You have a unique calling that only you can fulfil! Embrace it. Live past your fears.
So try it. Knock on another door of opportunity. There's a different person behind every door. They're all not going to respond to you in the same way! Push through the barriers. Give it all you've got! Be fearless! Soar with God!