Little Fears

I write a lot on here about fear. I think a lot about fear. The more I get to know myself, the more I see threats fear influences all the little parts of my life: not reading because I’m afraid of not liking a new book, being afraid to start a sermon and so finding a million other things to do, staying home because I’m afraid of seeing that one person again…. The list is endless. 

And it feels kind of pathetic to admit. I can just imagine some sneering voice asking, “You really avoid every day things because you’re afraid of silly things like that? Coward!” 

To which I say:

  1. Several swear words. Irritating voice!
  2. So often I don’t even realize that my fear is influencing how I’m behaving. I just think I’m not in the mood. I think I’m just really tired. I think about how I’m no good at whatever-it-is. 
  3. Realizing that I’m reacting out of fear is a good step. I can’t very well face my fear if I can’t or won’t recognize it.
  4. Trust me, I feel silly too. I wish my fear didn’t come out in all sorts of strange ways. But without realizing what I’m really feeling, I can’t accept it and then gently lift it aside and start doing those things even though I’m afraid.

So, yeah. I’m afraid of some things that make even me laugh. I’m afraid a lot. But I’m working on it.

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Sick of Scared

I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.

I’ve been scared since I started my internship–of the time commitment, of my cohort, of being honest, of the emotions being stirred up, of the emotions I face every day. 

And I’ve been scared of my dreams–of writing, of becoming a pastor. They both seem too huge and impossible and overwhelming that I don’t even know where to start. There are so many places I could submit my work. Where do I choose? How do I choose? What kind of writer am I? How do I gather up the courage to keep submitting and keep writing and keep submitting and keep writing when I get rejection notices, when I am exhausted after work, when there’s too much to write about and not enough  time? How do I gather the courage to write my final sermon and write my pastor resume and write my statement of faith when, the longer I’m away from seminary, the more I wonder if I could ever actually be a pastor? How do I convince people that I’d be a good pastor when I’m not sure?

I don’t know. But I’m sick of giving in to my fear. I’m sick of avoiding my love of writing and my love of pastoring because I’m afraid. I’m sick of avoiding, period. I’m sick of being too scared to go after my dreams.

Here I go again, then. Chasing my dreams, one step at a time. One step isn’t overwhelming: one blog post, one poem, researching one magazine, writing one pitch. One step isn’t overwhelming: looking up one Hebrew word, answering one question, writing one sentence of my statement of faith.

I refuse to give up on my dreams.

Writing Scared

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I’ve been sitting at my computer for a while now, trying to psych myself up to write: I checked my work email, cleaned out my personal email, caught up on blog posts, researched a few submission possibilities… but I’ve been avoiding the thought of actually writing all morning.

I’m scared.

It’s one of the reasons I should never stop writing, because when I do entropy kicks in, and it’s so, so hard to start again. I’ve gotten out of the habit of listening–the difficulty and honesty and courage required for listening were why I stopped writing in the first place–and now I’m trying to start again and it’s scary. That’s why I’ve been avoiding writing all morning. It’s scary. I don’t want to come face-to-face with myself, bare my soul through writing words on a page, listen to the Source of inspiration and all the things God might say that I don’t want to hear. I don’t feel brave enough. I don’t feel honest enough.

I’m afraid.

I know that if I push through, with prayer and preparation, I’ll be fine, I’ll be more than fine. I know. I do. If I push through, there’s something beautiful and wonderful on the other side, the sense of being surrounded by love and presence. I know. I do. I know even that it makes sense to be afraid. Writing transforms. It’s terrifying to approach God, hands and heart and mind open, ready to receive, whatever it might be. It’s terrifying to approach God, period. The Creator and Ruler of the universe is not conceivable, controllable, quantifiable. I know this. I do.

I don’t feel ready. I don’t know how to start.

And that might be the end, for today.

Fear

There’s so much fear in my life as a writer:

When I see “I was a professional writing major.” I was no such thing. My studies have been a joy in so many ways, but none of them had ‘writing’ in the title. I feel unqualified to become a writer, to put my writing out there. ‘I must fail, because I haven’t had all that training.’ I know nothing about the writing trade, and I’m learning as I go. I’m just someone who loves to read, who loves to write, who has all these feelings and ideas and knows no way to get them out except through writing, who loves to create beautiful things.

When I see somewhere I’d love to get published. But am I good enough? Is my writing? Is it really a good fit? How do I make myself stand out from all the others who want to write for you? What will I write?

When I sit in front of a blank page, waiting for the words to come. It’s such a place of trust. Will the words come? Will God come? What if I haven’t been listening hard enough? What if I have been separating myself from God all day; what right do I have now to come to this place of worship and expectation, and hope that God will come, when I’ve been shoving God away all day, all week? Or what if God and I disagree about the words that are needed? Sometimes I don’t have the strength to give in.

When I think about the future. Can I make this writing thing work? Am I submitting enough? To the right places? It’s just so overwhelming!

When I get ready to submit something. Is it any good? Will they accept it? Yes, submitting anything is a victory, but… That’s a bit of my soul I’m sending out.

When I think about writing. Writing is a lot of work. I think of stories I’d love to write, ones that need research. When will I do that, and how? How can I go from my images and emotions to words on a page? The work involved scares me.

When I read an amazing book. ‘I’ll never be this good.’ Everything that they did well, I despair of ever doing half as well. Will anyone ever be so completely drawn in and enchanted by my writing, as I am by theirs? It seems impossible.

 

Being afraid frightens me. I would much rather not be afraid, thank you very much. I would much rather power on through, supremely confident of my own abilities and where I’m going. Of course, that also sounds like a fantastic way to become an arrogant monster, so perhaps it’s for the best.

I can’t ignore my fear; it’s certainly not going away. Ignoring it sounds a lot like trying to stuff everything you hate in the closet until your closet explodes. Not going to go well, in other words. I can’t just pretend I’m not afraid, because I am. But then, life is scary too. There’s just as much uncertainty, just as much vulnerability, at least in the life I hope I’m living, the one that I strive for.

Sometimes I just have to acknowledge my fear, say, “Hey, I see you there” and then move on. And then do it anyway. My fear constricts me, but I’ve started to fight against it, to fight for the freedom to follow my dreams rather than allowing my fears to trap me where I am. Sometimes I just need to acknowledge my fears, say, “This is what I’m afraid of,” and go through everything that could happen if my fears were true. And you know what? Most of them are things I’m completely willing to live with. This article won’t get accepted; I’ll have to rewrite that devotional. I will have been foolish, perhaps, made mistakes, but I will have been fighting for the life I dream of. I will have been fighting for what God has gifted me to do. I will have been fighting to follow God, one step at a time.

I am afraid. But is it anything worth being afraid of?