If I Weren’t Afraid

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What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

I have been listening to the band Barcelona incessantly for the past month. Their music is addictive in so many ways, and I find it so calming. It’s been an anxious week for me, and Barcelona’s music falls so softly on crowded ears, a cloudy mind.

But. Every once in a while, their lyrics will punch me in the gut. And that’s how you know you’re listening to something good.

This song has been stuck with me for weeks on end. It’s haunting me, I daresay.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? I need to know, are you ready to admit that it’s the fear that’s keeping you here?

//

I got my hair cut today.

I honestly don’t recall how we got on the topic of careers and life, but I’ll never forget what my hairdresser said.

“Honey, do what you love. It’s worth it.”

I swear to you, the lyrics of this song played in my head as she spoke. What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

I would do what I loved. Whatever that is, I would make it happen.

She asked what I wanted to do. I said I loved teaching, learning, and working with kids. That I used to be a tutor and loved it.

“So start your own tutoring business. You could do it!”

I laughed. I brushed her suggestion aside. “Maybe.”

“No! I’m serious! Read a book. Starting a Business for Dummies or something. And do it! Sweetie, do what you love.”

Speechless. This stranger had more faith in me than I did.

“But really. What’s stopping you?” she asked, trimming my bangs.

I need to know, are you ready to admit that it’s the fear that’s keeping you here?

///

I was going to submit some resumes today. Never got around to it. I wasn’t ready.

Wasn’t ready to admit the fear.

But tomorrow…

Tomorrow, I will be. I will be ready to admit it’s the fear that’s keeping me here, and it’s about time I took it head on.

Today’s brave thing was a hair cut.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll color my hair and submit some resumes.

////

Are you ready to admit it’s fear? It’s breaking your heart, breaking you down, breaking your will.

Fear is annoying.

I think I get a handle on it. And then the next day, it mocks my confidence. Fooled you again.

For me, fear is a tiny little monster, nameless. So I start to think it’s not there. But, no.

It is there. Nebulous. Confusing. Vanishing, only to reappear when I need my bravery most, and it disguises itself as things it’s not.

Like practicality. “You should just stay where you are now. Why fix what isn’t broken? It’s convenient to keep things the way they are.”

Or keeping the peace. “So-and-so will just get angry if you state your opinion. No one asked, and besides, you don’t want to rock the boat.”

Sometimes fear is just a series of downright lies. “No one cares to hear what you think. You don’t have anything worth saying. You’re a terrible writer, so why bother? Your dream is just that: a dream, and nothing else. You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough.”

Annoying. More than annoying. Destructive.

Two years go by, and fear has taken over. Now I have to redraw, re-outline who I am. Fear has blurred all the lines, the boundaries of me and not-me, of my dreams and my doubts.

It’s more like carving than redrawing though. Carving. Digging deep into flesh and heart and soul. Carving out the fear, peeling it off, chipping away all the hard, calloused doubts and lies.

God, it hurts.

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Dr. Henry Cloud says in his book How People Grow that the only way to truly grow is to have an environment with a balance of grace and truth (grace + truth over time = growth). With too much grace, we can fall into license. We may not strive to do better if we are not pushed to do better. I’m going to be forgiven anyway, so what’s the big deal?

But without grace, we fall into legalism. We will want to rebel, pull away from the rules and regulations. We’re going to fall short anyway, so why try?

I think about this a lot. Growing up, I tended toward legalism because I am a perfectionist. I am Type A. I think hard and long about what I do and why I do it. I expect perfection from myself, and sometimes I extend those unrealistic expectations onto others.

Lately, I’ve relaxed a bit. Perhaps it was 7 years of chronic pain and illness that forced me to re-evaluate my expectations for myself. Perhaps it was seeing my parents live in terrible pain, to see them move from able-bodied to disabled in what seemed to be the blink of an eye that made me think about what really mattered. Whatever it was, something gave me perspective and grace. God’s whispers of, “Breathe in, breathe out. Come to me when you are weary. I give rest,” finally landed on listening ears, and I learned how to extend grace.

To myself. To my body. To my parents. To my friends. To my enemies.

It was the most important thing I ever learned how to do.

But now–and I can’t believe I’m saying this–but I need a bit more of the legalistic me back. Not the one that told me I needed to do more. But the one that held me accountable to who I was and what my needs, dreams, wants, and expectations were.

You see, she’s the me that pushed my body to get healthy, to go to therapy even when it was hard, to work out 5x a week, and yes, even to lose 30 lbs because that was my goal, and she knew I could do it.

She’s the me that gets shit done. I need her back.

I need the me that made me live up to my own passions, expectations, and dreams.

She lit fires and leaped and bounded and built bridges and sang songs and penned words and achieved. She tried. She tried hard. And she loved it.

I have breathed in and out. I have found rest. I have healed in ways I never thought possible, and wounds I didn’t even know I had have bled and scabbed over. I have learned the importance of grace. I have learned how to extend it (and I will never stop learning and relearning).

But now is the time for truth. If growth is grace + truth / time, now is the time for truth.

Step one is figuring out what that truth is. What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

//////

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Tell me, what would you do if I called your name?

I don’t know who the “I” is in this song. It could be a nameless man, a character in a narrative. It could be the lead singer, the lyricist.

But I hear God so strongly. The moment the lead singer floats out the words “if I called your name,” I hear The Lord whisper to me.

The calling of names is something that speaks to me so deeply. In the midst of chaos and identity crisis and confusion and doubt, God knows my name and calls me by it. To him, I have always been Kelsey, and he knows what what means.

He names us all. He calls us by name out of the pit and mire. He names the stars and calls them by name. He names Abraham and Sarah and Jacob. There are so many more instances of naming and calling by name.

And with each one comes a promise. Of a future, of a people, of life. Of a home and a place to belong. Of redemption and reconciliation. Of completion. Of hope and rest and love and presence and grace and truth. And yes, of hard things and hard work and danger and risk. Butย don’t be afraid, he says.

“Fear not,” he says to Israel. “I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are mine. I will not abandon you.”

What would you do if I called your name? I could be your comfort, but you choose your fate. You could drop everything, drop everything, and leave today.

I cannot help but hear the heart of God in these lyrics. I can hear him saying, Child, what would you do if you weren’t afraid? Would you drop everything? Would you run to me? Would you hear my truth as I called you by name? Tell me, what would you do if I called your name, and you heard it? Would you drop everything that holds you back? I am who I say I am; would you believe?

Funny thing is, you can’t hear anyone call your name if you’re not listening. Even worse if you’re afraid to listen in the first place. Selective hearing, perhaps they might call it.

But I need you to admit, it’s the fear that’s keeping you here. I can be your comfort, but you choose your fate. You could drop everything, leave today.

I could leave the place of fear. I could choose to run to Jesus. I could answer when he calls my name and let him do a grand work in my life. I could drop everything–fear, doubt, confusion.

So what would I do if I weren’t afraid? What would I do if He called my name (if I heard Him call my name)?

Would I drop drop everythingย and run to Him?

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