You’re braver than you think

I always beat myself up for having anxiety, but the truth is: for those of us who have anxiety, we are braver than we know. Franklin D. Roosevelt once said: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Anxiety makes it seem like whatever is giving us fear is strong enough to keep us in bondage, but when we do what makes us afraid―like go on planes, put ourselves in awkward social situations, or deal with conflict at work―we’re acting in courage.

The key is to not let our fear overtake us.

After traveling recently, I researched ways that flight attendants help passengers who are scared of flying (like me!). I learned that flight attendants are trained to make passengers feel comfortable and safe on each flight. But in some of these articles, I read flight attendants’ stories about how fearful flyers “gave in to fear.” The worst one that someone experienced was where a customer made a threat against the airline, so they had to call security to bring the customer off the flight.

There have been times when I’ve given into fear, when I’ve let fear take over me. But now that I’ve had several fearful experiences happen to me, I’ve learned that anxiety-inducing situations are part of life. In the middle of the storm, it’s better to do what makes me scared than to let fear stop me. If I didn’t do what made me afraid, there would be days where I would be curled up in a ball in my bed, listening to the clock tick on the wall next to me. That doesn’t sound like an exciting life!

As a Christian, I always hear people saying to let my faith be bigger than my fear. For a while, I’ve assumed that meant that God was going to shrink my fear and grow my faith. However, as I’ve learned over the years, I have a part to play as well. God grows my faith, but it’s my responsibility to choose to trust my faith instead of my fear.

God doesn’t make things easy for us just because we’re scared. Gideon, for example, was a man who almost let fear get in the way of him being used by God. Yet through each moment, God was faithful, and continued to give Gideon strength. You can read his story in Judges 6. Gideon was the weakest member of his family, who was part of the weakest tribe of Israel. But when the angel of the Lord came to speak to Gideon, he said: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” The angel told Gideon, essentially, that he was braver than he thought. God was about to use this man, and three-hundred able men, to bring down Israel’s enemy.

My favorite part of the story of Gideon is that God truly cancelled every reason for Gideon to fear. The night before Gideon and his army would attack, God told him to go to the enemy camp and listen to a man speak. God promised Gideon that he would be encouraged after visiting the camp. Here is the account of what happened when Gideon obeyed:

Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. ‘I had a dream,’ he was saying. ‘A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.’ His friend responded, ‘This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands'” (Judges 7:13-15).

Of course, Gideon had to go and fight, but God had prepared the way for him to have the victory. I believe that God does the same for us in our struggles. We may not always understand what God is doing, but He gives us just enough to get a taste of the victory we’re going to have through Him. Then, He gives us the strength and courage to act.

Will we take that next step in obedience to God?

No matter how much God does for us, we have to trust Him. We have to make that effort, as He has given us that responsibility to act in faith. God could open a door wide open for us, but it is our job to step through the doorway.

So, what are you scared of today? You don’t have to attack it head on, but if it’s stopping you from living the life that God has for you, you need to deal with it somehow. Even if fear threatens to cripple you, do it scared. Trust me: You’re braver than you think!

Photo by Marina Vitale on Unsplash


Do it Scared

I am excited to announce that I am now a freelance writer and editor! This dream was birthed in me at the young age of six, when I realized I could write books for kids who loved reading, just like me. Thank you to the people in college who told me I should major in English (I didn’t listen), and to my family and friends for supporting me in this transition. While I will be writing several books and waiting for them to be selected for publication, I will also be offering writing and editing services to those who want to make their writing dreams a reality.

Although this has been a dream of mine, I woke up this morning with a sense of fear. What if I put myself out there and nobody bites? What if people don’t like me? What if they find out that I’m not perfect? The good-girl Christian in me says, “God has a plan! It’ll all work out in the end! Don’t be afraid!” We tend to be scared of being scared, so we put a spiritual band-aid on our fear and call it a day. However, I’m still afraid! I’ve never done this before. Fear is a natural response to the unknown.

To help me launch my career, my husband bought me a copy of the book Business Boutique by Christy Wright, a professional who helps women start their own businesses doing what they love. In one of the beginning chapters of the book, she wrote about fear in starting your own business. Fear is normal, and everyone experiences fear at one point or another. Her solution? “We just do it scared” (15).

As I re-read through Chapter 2, “Fear is Normal,” Wright only mentions that phrase a few times. However, after reading all 19 chapters of her book, I can clearly remember that phrase as my takeaway. If we only did things when we weren’t afraid, we would miss out on a lot of life. I’m actually more afraid of settling than neglecting my dreams. What is more fearful to you, being stuck in a job that isn’t your passion for the rest of your life, or taking a leap of faith and risking it all to pursue your dreams? Doesn’t the latter option sound like a movie?

A few people in my audience struggle with anxiety like me. I used to get scared just going out to eat with friends. You may get scared going to parties or traveling or visiting certain places or even not having plans. Going on retreats as a teenager, the staff members would tell us to aim for our yellow zone. The green zone is our comfort zone, and the red zone is our debilitating fear. While high ropes courses might be easy as pie for you, they make me nauseous and dizzy; I literally can’t move when I get to a certain height. Doing something in your yellow zone is doing something that stretches you just enough not to break you.

If you feel God calling you to do something in your red zone, which is quite possible, have grace with yourself to take baby steps there. If you are scared of publishing a book about your traumatic past, start off small by sharing your story with a trusted friend or a small group of people. No matter what you do, don’t let fear keep you from doing what you love and what you feel God is calling you to do.

Here are some quotes that I found when searching the phrase “Do it scared.” May they inspire you to pursue your passion, even if you have to do it scared:

“If you’re afraid, don’t do it. If you’re doing it, don’t be afraid!”-Genghis Khan

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

“What you feel doesn’t matter in the end; it’s what you do that makes you brave.” – Andre Agassi

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the absence of self.” – Erwin McManus

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”-Marianne Williamson

Photo by Kristina Wagner on Unsplash