I remember being in the eighth grade and working on a writing piece about myself. It was some sort of self-reflection and one of the questions our teacher wanted us to think about was, "What are you afraid of?"
My mind immediately jumped to the literal of the word 'fear.' What did I fear? Hhmm, I am terrified of the ocean and sharks, I thought. I can't write about that though, that seems silly. I looked at my teacher, "Mrs. Nooney," I began. "What am I afraid of?" She put her hand on my shoulder and instantly replied, "Failure."
I remember how my heart felt in that moment. Smack dab in the midst of my middle school Language Arts class, I felt like I had just left a therapy session. Silently, I nodded. I wish I remembered what more I wrote about or what I did with that piece, but I won't ever forget that initial recognition of someone seeing in to my soul.
I don't consider myself a perfectionist but at twenty-eight, I'm realizing that I hold on to a lot of unnecessary thoughts and just stuff. I've blocked out bits and pieces of my past, some on purpose and some because of circumstances, but something that has followed me over the years is this internal fear of screwing up. I don't strive to be the best at everything and Lord knows I'm not. I'm not the worlds greatest teacher or photographer, heck, I have a TON to learn in both areas. I'm not the BEST mom or wife and I screw up a lot in both of those roles.
Over the last year I have often struggled with letting things go. Social media is a strange place for me and while I love it, I also see how the Enemy strives to use it against me. When I've gone to write on a friend's wall and they're no longer there, (aka they unfriended me), I've heard thoughts like, 'She must really not like you. You must have done something wrong.' In reality, they might just not want to see me on social media! It doesn't mean they hate me or that we can't be friends, it just means that they're fine (and I need to be too) with our lives not connecting in that facet. Or I'll see other friends, living their lives and forming new friendships, and I'll hear, 'She doesn't need you anymore.' How is that a beneficial or even remotely rational way of thinking? But those lies are there.
Because failing at relationships is hard for me. Losing friends or not being liked are amongst some of my greatest fears. I don't want to fail at loving others and I don't want to fail at being loved.
I recently read, "The opposite of faith isn't doubt; it's control" (Wild and Free). And you know what? This couldn't be more true of my life. My husband helps me rationalize my sometimes crazy thoughts and he pointed out that I can tend to obsess over the things that I can't control. Not being everyone's best friend; can't control it. Being unfriended on Facebook or unfollowed on Instagram; can't control it. What others think about me; no control. There's a pattern, and it all adds up to this: I just don't want to fail.
I am really good at preaching to you about how life is okay though, let's be real. And aren't we all? We are so good at telling others to let the small (and sometimes big) stuff go. We're good at telling our friends that it's okay to cry, that God has a plan, that they are beautiful how they are, that they are crazy talented and all around just how wonderful they are, but where is the grace for ourselves?
Moment of truth: there are a lot of other things that I fear failing at, such as intimacy. Poor choices from my past have really tormented with my heart and brain and as early as a week ago, tears streamed down my face in the midst of a moment with my husband. It's never happened before, I've never reacted that way to his touch and then there I was, trying to get my s*** together because HE is not the one who abused me. I didn't want to appear weak, I didn't want to admit that ten years later my heart still hurts, I didn't want to fail. [Thank GOD for a gracious and loving husband, am I right ladies?!]
Have you ever read John 14:27? "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you... Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Or Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You."
When I begin to fear coming undone, when I want to run from my imperfections and people please the heck out of every loving person, I pray I can turn to those verses. "If you're not living in freedom, you're living in fear. Fear and love cannot occupy the same space, and neither can deep-rooted fear and freedom...He is our refuge. He will lift us out of our debilitating fear. He has chosen us anyway" (Wild and Free).
Sisters and friends, He is good. I do believe this and I do claim this, it's just something I haven't yet mastered living yet. Whatever you're walking through right now, I pray you can see Him. That you can have a quite moment, take a breath and know that you are so loved. We all have fears, whether big or small, whether they seem trivial or consuming--but there is so much grace and forgiveness to be had.