Tag Archives: fear

Uprooting Fear

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was 8 years old, a starry eyed 3rd grader, who loved music more than anything.  All my spare time was spent imagining shows and costumes and songs and stages.

The small school I attended had a music program unlike any other I’ve ever encountered.  Our music teacher was a creative force, ideas and dreams far grander than mundane things like budgets and time allowed for.  Every year, the entire school participated in a massive talent show.  And I do mean the entire school.  Every single class came up with an act.  Every Fine Arts group performed – handbells, recorders, choir, drama, bands (of which there were literally like 6 different ones).  Even all the faculty and staff managed to put together a number, much to the delight of all the students, who loved seeing their teachers look ridiculous. On top of this, there were open auditions for anyone else who wanted to showcase a talent.  There was a huge opening number and a massive finale in which I’m fairly certain there were more people packed onto the stage and every square inch of aisle space than were seated in the audience.  People waited to hear the theme for each year’s show and for the unveiling of the elaborate stage designs with the same anticipation and expectation you see in those silly teen flicks where they all gush over prom themes (only without the drama and ridiculousness).

So, the year I was in 3rd grade, the theme was Broadway – my favorite thing ever (still!).  The stage was going to be a massive city skyline reminiscent of New York City.  The opening number was going to be a classic chorus line featuring a medley of famous Broadway songs, particularly the grand “Hello, Dolly!” theme song.  And most exciting, our music director, Mr. G., asked me to be Dolly.  I was going to sing the solo, wear a fabulous glittering gold dress, have the huge feathers in my hair – the whole nine yards.

Only I had one enormous problem – I was absolutely petrified with a fear of looking foolish.  And if you’ve ever seen the musical, Dolly Levi is quite the over-the-top, flamboyant character.  And I wanted to do it SO badly (I can still feel the ache of how much I wanted to play this part), but I was paralyzed with the prospect of facing ridicule, with looking silly in front of hundreds and hundreds of people, with the fear of being tormented by classmates for years to come, especially if I made any error.  So I told Mr. G and my parents a lie, told them I didn’t want to do it.  And vividly remember crying in my bed that night, heartbroken over how afraid I was.

My best friend got the part instead, went on to become the darling of the school and the go to person for all solos needing sung, and it would be 5 years before anyone beyond a few close friends would find out I could sing.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson from this – the amazing opportunities fear causes us to miss.  But this fear – especially in regards to music and performing – has followed me and haunted me my entire life.  Auditions I didn’t go to, contests I didn’t enter, practice sessions ended early because someone showed up in the practice room next door and I didn’t want them to hear me – sometimes it was the fear of my own lack, fear of discovering I actually wasn’t any good at the one thing I love more than anything else.  There was the musical I didn’t audition for in college because I was afraid of the pastor and youth leaders I worked under – I would have had to stepped away from some ministry responsibilities because of the rehearsal schedule and they would have taken me to pieces for stepping away from “eternal” matters for something as “shallow” as a musical.  Even as much progress as I made and as much as I learned getting my music degree, I massively regret knowing I could have gotten so much more out of that season if I wouldn’t have been so afraid of . . . of everything. Of myself. Of other people’s opinions. Of the comparison of myself to others.

I can’t help but wonder how life would be different if I wasn’t afraid.  I wonder how much life could change right now if I chose not to be afraid.  Or more likely, chose to shove fear out of the way and take chances anyway.  And there grows in me the hope that maybe it’s not too late.  Maybe today is as good a day as any to kick fear in the teeth and tell it where it can go.

If the tables were turned and you were sharing your story with me, telling me the longing of your heart and how fear has held you back, I would champion your dream.  I would tell you not to give up.  I would tell you to reach deep for the place in your being where the intensity of your passion outweighs the intensity of your fear.  I would tell you to choose a step – any step – but to take one step towards what you were made for, towards doing what your heart will never feel complete without doing.

So perhaps I should begin to follow my own advice.

I think I will. One shaking step at a time.

 

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Filed under Creativity, Hope, Music, Passion

When Oceans Rise

I find myself tossed in a tempestuous sea.  My arms are wildly flailing, my lungs are frantic for air.  My mind screams what my mouth cannot: Why?  Where are You?  Will I make it?

You call me out upon the water, the great unknown where feet may fail.

This is not like walking on water.  Peter asked to come.  He chose to step out of the boat.  Not me.  I was on a journey only to find my boat capsized and my survival instinct fighting its way to the surface.

And there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.

Mystery has always seemed beautiful to me, alluring, inviting.  I wanted to chase it, throw myself into it with adventurous abandon.  Oh – to go where no one else has gone and do what no one else has done.  But I suppose some mysteries are more like haunted forests – dark and shadowy, the specters of past, present and future all rising to mock your already shaken heart.  I am forced to choose between what seems reality in front of my eyes or a reality beckoning from deep inside my bones, the place where Your deep calls to my deep.  I choose You, and while the ghosts do not entirely disappear (hopeful for another chance at breaking me), I see them now for what they are – figments of an imagination that is not Yours and cannot be mine if I want to live.

I find You in the mystery.  And the first miracle happens – peace be still.  The storm no longer rages.  The tears become fewer.  The resolve become stronger.

So I will call upon Your name and keep my eyes above the waves.  When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace for I am Yours and You are mine.

But we are still adrift in this unknown, uncharted sea.  I do not see land in sight.  I do not see rescue.  All I have are Your whispered promises and the assurance of Your embrace, which some days I feel much stronger than others.  I cannot fight or I will wear myself out and risk drowning.  I have no choice but to lean into You and trust that You will keep me afloat.  This is all at once comforting and agonizing.  What I see in this vast and menacing ocean stands in stark contrast to what You are telling me is true, to what You are promising me awaits.  One moment, it seems easier to trust You; the next, I am terrified and pleading with my quaking soul, “Be still.”

Your grace abounds in deepest water.  Your sovereign hand will be my guide.  Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.

The sun sets on the horizon, and the realization sinks in that I have survived another day out here on the open sea.  Oh God, do not fail me.  When will the rescue come?  Dare I admit this – I am afraid.  I do not see a way out.  I see no sign of rescue.  I only hold the hope of land in my heart, the hope of roots and home and provision and calling.  Is it vain hope?  But You say it’s not.  I choose rest.  I choose You.  Oh God, do not fail me.

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the water wherever You would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

Some prayers seem so noble, so inspired until you are living the answer.  As I float here, no way out of this ocean for now, I am left to ponder if the songs of my mouth truly reflect the songs of my heart.  This is hard introspection, and truthfully, I have been afraid of what I might find.  The fear is relentless, and I begin to think I must have failed.  Until I realize how my instincts are beginning to change.  At first, when fear reached its poisonous tentacles towards my heart, I floundered and thrashed first before remembering to rest.  But as the days roll by, the instinct to panic lessens and the instinct to lean in close grows.  And I am made stronger in these everlasting arms.

And while I am still lost and uncertain, I know now that cry of my heart is truly to have no limits on how much I would trust You, how far I would chase You.  I do not understand, but I do not want to be confined to the places my feet could discover on their own.  I must have more, must know more.  And if I must drown, let it be into the fathomless depths of Your heart and Your mystery.

I choose You, even as the oceans rise.

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