When I think back on my life I can recall a few defining moments on my journey of discovering myself through facing my fears.
I remember when I was just 20 and someone attempted to steal my car one evening. They didn’t succeed but they did make off with my sunglasses. I’ve only had them maybe a few days. It was the most expensive (and most stylish) pair I’ve ever owned – expensive because of the polarized lenses. When you have blue eyes that are quite sensitive to bright sunlight, then a pair of sunglasses becomes a necessity rather than a fashion statement.
Someone gave me another pair but it was nothing compared to what I had lost. You know the saying Beggars can’t be choosers; I could barely drive without sunglasses, so I accepted. They turned out to be surprisingly effective. The only problem I had with it was that it resembled something from the era of pink hair and pink Cadillac’s back in the 50’s – cat-eyes they’re called – and for those of you who don’t know what that is, this should explain it sufficiently:
|Cat-eye sunglasses (Source of picture: Vintage Fashion Club)|
These glasses were on. my. face. people! You couldn’t look at me and miss it! I battled so badly with being self conscious back then; I remember struggling to walk away from people - men or woman, young or old,
one person or a crowd – I was convinced that they were gossiping about the way my bum move when I walk. Now I couldn’t walk away, neither could I face anyone. So, since I mostly wore them when driving, I would pretend like I was reaching for something under the dashboard - as a means of hiding away - whenever I had to stop at a red light. That is mostly when people would look around and notice. Only problem with that is that you cannot drive with your head under the dash.
I determinedly decided to use it to my advantage and vowed that I would resist the urge to duck under the dashboard every time someone seemed to stare at me curiously, as if to say, “Hey dudette, what’s that on your face?” I was going to use it to strengthen my resolve not to care what people think of me; I was going to build my confidence by facing my fear!
The second – and biggest defining moment of my life – was the day I decided to get divorced. When I got married I did so out of fear of disappointing others, and consequently being rejected by them. My fear outweighed my faith, but my decision to get divorced was a decision for me – it was my way of saying that I could not live the life I thought others had planned for me. I had to correct the mistake I made and get back to the last place where I knew that I had been on track – felt like I was on track. To this day it still resembles one of the most courageous moments of my life; the moment that I truly decided to start loving myself instead of looking to others for their approval of me.
The yearning for approval from others did not magically disappear, and I was yet to conquer many more obstacles, but I was on my way to finally starting to discover me, accept me, like me… love me.
Part of this journey was my starting to take guitar lessons at 25. It wasn’t long before my music teacher challenged me to do more with my talent than just pick at strings around the campfire. She suggested I play music exams through the university. She believed in me; I took the plunge. Around 29 I was the same age as the mommies of the ten year olds who were playing the same music as me. I remember feeling self conscious because I didn’t have those opportunities when I was ten, but I had such a desire to learn it and this was my time to do it. Every time that I played in front of an audience – even if just one stranger – my hands and knees would start to shake uncontrollably and I was practising not to show my disappointment every time I made a mistake, but to keep on making beautiful music in the face of my fear.
Also in my early twenties, I was part of the praise and worship team in my church. I love singing, I love music. I still have a dream that God is going to use it to touch the lives of others for His glory, but I also struggled to sing in front of an audience. Every service that I participated in I was facing my fear.
Then one night, whilst at the movies, I felt God explicitly telling me that I had to leave that church; that it was the beginning of a new season. Holy Spirit reminded me of a specific scripture and I was so eager that I walked out of the movie – I had to get home; I had to check that scripture. I felt lead to resign the very next Sunday – the following day.
We had just done the first of many international music conferences and I had the honor of being part of it. I thought that the dream for worship and music that God had put in my heart was taking off, but little did I know that I would not worship on another stage for years to come. I had to search my heart: was it more important for me to stay on, continue singing on a man-made stage and be heard by people, or was it more important to obey the Lord and trust that, should He want to use that gift in the future, He would provide me with the stage to do it for His purpose and His glory? Was it more important to be seen by man or to please the Lord? And what if I never sang in front of people ever again? Would I still love the Lord? My dream had to go on the altar. I had to face my fear.
Today, as a writer, I am called yet again to face my fear.
More recently I’ve been feeling a few things on my heart to write that I did not feel quite comfortable with. I’ve caught myself feeling the fear of, “Oooh, I can’t say that! What if I offend someone? What if they stop reading my blog? What if they don’t tap me on the shoulder saying ‘good job!’?” I feel the Lord challenging me to decide which is more important: what people think of me, or that they approve of me because I massage their ears with what they want to hear, or do I say what God wants me to say, thereby honouring and serving Him with my obedience, and trusting Him with the outcome?
I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 4:3, …preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not. Correct and rebuke your people when they need it, encourage them to do right, and all the time be feeding them patiently with God’s Word. For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth, but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguides ideas. Stand steady, and don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Bring others to Christ. Leave nothing undone that you ought to do.
Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety. (Proverbs 29:25)
God has given me writing as a gift; He has given me something to say. He has gifted me for His purpose, not my popularity. My gift is a tool in His hand. How then can I choose to be quiet out of fear of what people will say or think? Yes, maybe some will read my work and not like what I have to say – they might never read my work again – but if I were to obey the Lord, then I trust that He will make sure that it reaches the audience for whom He intended it.
If fearing man is a dangerous trap, then I choose to trust in the Lord instead. Today I choose to face my fear, for I have been prepared all along for a time such as this.
What is God telling you to do today, but you're afraid of what people will say or think? Will you choose to face your fear?