Action vs Fear
Recently, my oldest daughter and I were going through her childhood pictures for a project she was working on. We came across a picture of her that I remember quite well. It was taken at my grandparent's pool in their backyard. In the picture, she is wearing her Little Mermaid swimsuit, no water wings and is jumping off the diving board.
I remember the picture because I remember witnessing how fearlessly my five year old faced the water, but also how fearlessly she seemed to take on any challenge. The picture was not a staged scene. Rather, a moment my father (who always seems to have a camera in hand) captured perfectly. My father had captured her pure determination, confidence, and joy as she jumped into the deep end.
Now, twenty-three years old looking at the picture of her childhood self, my daughter saw clearly what had been captured. In awe, she said, "Gosh, imagine what we could all accomplish if we didn't lose that childlike fearlessness?" Indeed, imagine what we could accomplish. Not just in our individual lives, but in our shared lives together especially in the church.
All too often, I see congregations living out of fear.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of what is no longer.
Fear of not having enough.
Fear of what might be.
Fear of taking risks.
Fear of making certain decisions.
Fear of what others will think or say.
Fear of being honest.
Fear of saying what needs to be said.
Fear of doing what needs to be done.
And all too often, we mistakenly believe we must have faith and courage to overcome our fears. Yet, I believe faith and courage come after we face our fears. They are the rewards of actions. Action itself is the source of power and courage. It is what erases the fear.
Author and motivational speaker Steve Chandler in his book Reinventing Yourself shares an eye opening conversation with one of his mentors. Out of deep admiration, he said to his mentor, "You can do things other people are too afraid to do." His mentor immediately responded, "I can do these things because I had done them. Doing them is how I learned to do them."
Essentially what he was saying is how we overcome fear is by doing what we fear to do. It is taking the first step, the first action. That action does not need to be perfect, as it will begin to feed itself the power needed to continue. Just take action. Do it imperfectly; do it slowly; do it fearfully; do it any way you can and eventually the fear will dissipate and your deepening faith and courage will follow.
I remember the first time I tried to coax my daughter to jump off the diving board. She would walk right to the edge, look down at the water, shake her head, and turn back the other way to walk off of the board. I am not sure how many times she did this. Finally, she walked to the edge, took a deep breath, and jumped. The first jump gave her greater courage to do it again, and again and again.
The first step in facing our fears is the hardest.
The first conversation.
The first meeting.
The first decision.
The first moment of honesty.
Yet, this is how we face our fears and it is how we discover our determination, confidence, and joy. Yes, the first jump is the hardest, but I promise you it is worth it.
Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, Conference Minister