I’m not usually a fearful person. I can harness those lurking shadows that threaten to quicken my heart rate and rob me of my joy. I can figuratively hold fear in my hands and evaluate it; deciphering what hidden truth is being masked as something altogether different.
I’ve learned to question my fear in an attempt to whittle it down to its truthful root. Once I know its root, I can acknowledge it, face it, and deal with it. It no longer holds power over me. I learned this tactic years and years ago and it has freed me from worry, anxiousness, and fear–most of the time!
For me, this looks like asking myself these questions of my fear:
• Who told me this/where did this thought originate? By sticking to the facts and distinguish between facts and feelings, we can often pinpoint the lie we’ve fallen prey to.
• What is the worst that can happen, and what are the chances of that happening?
• What is most likely to happen, and how different is it from my worst fears?
• Who am I choosing to be in this situation?
• Even if I fail, I will ___________.
However, these last few weeks fear has repeatedly knocked on my door. I know why she’s knocking. Her hostile ways are anything but subtle and are meant to keep me from moving forward in an area I don’t feel secure—and being a Type A person, I like feeling secure. I like fail-proof plans and backup plans. And failure…oh sweet failure, I know you play an important role on the road to success, but I don’t like you and I will attempt to avoid you at all costs!
Throughout my life, I’ve repeatedly received the message that if I am not good at something, it probably isn’t the area for me. Said another way, work from your strengths, not from your weaknesses. Honestly, I agree with this message to some degree, but there is a grey area in which many of us get stuck–and this is where I find myself.
What if God calls us to something we’re not good at? What if we accept His invitation because we have a genuine passion for it, but don’t know how or where to begin?
As a Christ-follower, I was raised to believe that at the time you accept Christ as Lord of your life, you are given two precious gifts: The Holy Spirit and a Spiritual Gift. As I type these two separate gifts, I find myself pausing to reflect that they may actually be one in the same! If this is a new concept to you, let me quickly glaze over it and say that the Holy Spirit enables us to do, think, and become things beyond our human abilities for the purpose of bringing glory to Him—it’s supernatural; it’s God in us. With that said, I was raised to believe that once I discover my gift I am expected to use it, to live life from that place. Think “Strengths Finder” on steroids!
I don’t know how to use my gift. It scares me. It’s a painful gift– it makes me cry–and I hate crying. However, when I find myself sobbing for days on end over a stranger or a situation I am not directly involved in, it gets my attention in a big way and I ask, “What, Lord, do You want me to do?” Sometimes it’s merely sending a quick message, sometimes it’s praying over that person or situation. Those things are easy for me to do. I love to pray and I love people–put the two together and my heart just about gushes from my chest.
But a few weeks ago, I read on one of my Facebook groups that the sister of this woman, a woman whom I don’t know, was scheduled to have an abortion. The woman was grieving for her sister’s choice and had asked for prayer for her regardless of what she decided. Cue the tears! Seriously, I wept for two solid days. I know it sounds ridiculous. It appeared as ridiculous as it sounds and yet my heart ached so intensely for this woman across the US.
Eyes swollen, face blotchy, throat scratchy, I asked, “Lord, what am I supposed to do here? I don’t know this woman. I can’t reach out to her; I don’t even know her name.” And then I saw myself twenty-five years earlier, as a young 19-year-old walking into an abortion clinic, where my life changed forever, where I left my seven-week-old unformed, unborn baby’s body, my identity, and my soul. I wept for myself. I wept for my choice. I wept for my baby. I wept for all the women who made this choice and now haunts them.
I didn’t hear God audibly, but I am certain He told me that He had been collecting all my tears, taking note of all the things that broke my heart and that He had been on His knees beside me each and every time, praying with me, interceding with me. I heard Him say that I have a place in these women’s lives, that I would journey with them from beginning to end, cry with them, and help lead them to Forgiveness.
I’ve known this for a very long time. He has repeatedly shared a portion of His plan with me and each time, I have told Him, “No, send someone else. I am not the girl for the job. It is too hard and way outside my comfort zone and ability.” I’ve made many excuses–some relatively truthful, some flat-out lies. I’ve lied to myself out of fear of moving forward in His plan. You’d think most people would jump at the opportunity to serve God, but I’m finding that doing so means loosening my grip on my plans and wrapping my arms around His neck as He leads me in His–through the dark. I don’t like the dark and I don’t like not being in control. It makes me wonder how much faith I really have then!
He’s relentless. He never gives up on us. I’ve heard His song; I have felt the whoosh of His robe brush past me as He has surrounded me with His loving-kindness regardless of my choice. It’s beautiful. Magnificent, really, to be loved this much. And when I sit and attempt to take it all in, I realize I’m on sacred ground, that I was created for such a time as this—for this place in history, for this community of women. I cannot see this and then turn a blind eye. So I open my hands, turn them heavenward and say, “OK Lord, I’m letting go of my plan and I’m ready to receive Yours.” My heart exploded! I’m hardly exaggerating–the act of surrendering–ahhh—it is not something I do often enough. I felt encapsulated in more love than ever at that moment. Until…
Until I put out an email to my church stating that I was starting a post-abortion Bible study. I had already hit “Send,” when the fear of the unknowns started bubbling up. What study was I going to offer? I’m not a leader, I’m a follower—who do I think I am? I can’t do this. I cannot do this!!!
I tried working through my list of questions–trying to boil down to the root of the issue. I discovered the truth, which was that I had made this about what I could do, not what God could do. I was stressed about getting just the right curriculum, when really–the curriculum is just the tool, not the solution—not the freedom or forgiveness that these precious women need.
And as if that wasn’t enough to replace my fear, my Bible study that day “just happened” to visit the story of Abram and Sarai. It’s an old story, I wouldn’t expect you to remember it, but in short:
Abram and Sarai desired a child for many years and when Sarai didn’t become pregnant, she gave to Abram her maidservant, Hagar, to sleep with–in hopes that she would become pregnant and the family name could live on through this child. Hagar did become pregnant and Sarai became bitter. I bet you could have seen that coming! Hagar had enough of Sarai’s bitterness and decided to leave. While on the road, she was greeted by an angel of the Lord, who told her to go back–essentially back to her past, but not as she was, but this time WITH the Lord. And so she did.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that I read this story when I did. I think the Lord, in a sense, was telling me the same thing, “Karyn, go back to your past but not as you were, but WITH the Lord.” I am. I’m going back; trembling all the way there, not because of fear but because I know I am on sacred ground.
In Francis Chan’s newest book, “Letters to the Church,” he writes the words my own heart is learning to be true:
“Obedience often grates against our natural desires, but if we obey only when it feels natural, then Jesus is not truly Lord of our lives.”
You are the Lord of my life. You are sovereign. You are overall and in all. You are the God Who sees. You are the God who leads and You are the God who knows everything about us. You know my fears, You know the lies I fall for. You know my strengths and my weaknesses and yet none of those things make me more or less desirable or useful to You.
You love me; You really, really love me. You don’t need me, You want me–what a humbling thought. Lord, on my knees, I submit my life to You. I open my hands to You as a symbol of my surrender. Lord, I ask that You continue to take my hand, take my heart and lead me, mold me into the woman You desire for me to be. Allow me to glimpse Your glory as we sojourn this short life here on earth together and equip me to do Your will.
Lord, my desire is to bring a smile to Your face. Thank You for nurturing my heart and loving me–all of me–like You do. I love you, I love you– for all eternity–I love you!