I woke up one morning about a month ago with my stomach tied in knots. I sighed, and thought to myself, I’m so sick of feeling anxious. You know, I could do something about this. I could ensure that I don’t ever feel this way.
I could. I could live a safe life, never go on dates, never take on new responsibilities, never travel. I could decide to keep my heart to myself and never share it. I could never invite people over to my house or open my life up to others.
But what kind of life is that?
We could always decide to live on the safe side and keep ourselves from pain. But we either numb all emotions or none of them. If I want to ever experience JOY and love, I have to put myself at risk of fear and anxiety.
I watched “The Giver” last night, which gives us a great picture of this idea. They live in a world that is literally black and white, where they use “precision of language” and have their “role” given to them at the age of 18. The main character begins receiving memories and pictures of what the world is supposed to be. Color, laughter, music, beauty. But along with that, he receives the experience of war, pain, and sadness. It all comes together. It might seem like a world that is guarded from all the bad and scary would be a great place to live – but in that we miss all the good. The main character says at the climax of the movie, “If we can’t feel, what is the point?”
So what is the other option?
It is the invitation to bravery.
I knew lying there in my bed that morning that I did not want to live a safe and shielded life. It is not worth the risk of missing out on all the good God has for us.
This began a new journey for me, one that I am claiming for my next year. I am a big fan of choosing a word or phrase to speak over a new season. That day, the LORD spoke this over me: “Do what scares you.”
This year, I believe He is inviting me to actively participate in bravery. He is not offering me a hiding place behind a shield; He is offering me a sword named Courage and saying, “You can do hard things.”
I want courage. I do. But I also am drawn to comfort. Aren’t we all? My gut wants comfort. It doesn’t want to feel so much. It wants consistency and calm. But my wild soul wants adventure and bravery. This is an invitation to enter into battle, trusting that God truly will fight right alongside me. And with Him we are always ultimately victorious.
So the request isn’t: “I don’t want to be scared anymore.” It is: “Help me be brave.”
So this year, I am practicing engaging in this battle. It isn’t about focusing on my fear until it goes away. It is practicing courage as a discipline. It is about trusting that He is my Champion.
It means actively handing over my fear and anxiety to my Father, who puts it in a bottle and suffocates it. Fear has no control over us when we are with Him (and friendly reminder: we are always with Him).
In the midst of an anxious moment recently, I prayed that God would, “Calm the storm inside of me, and not capsize my heart.” It reminded me of the story in Luke 8 of Jesus falling asleep on the boat when the disciples were caught in a storm. Reading through that story I was struck by the verse, “And they were in great danger.” Not only were they in great danger, but Jesus led them right into it. He said, “get on the boat” and then the storm came. That is the reality of our lives. We are going to go through scary things. We have to do what scares us. We do not get to choose a life of safety without sacrificing the good things God has for us.
So friends, I invite you on this journey with me. It is hard and it is scary, but anything hard and scary with Jesus is definitely worth it. There is nothing I’d want less than to look back on my life and feel like I missed out for the sake of comfort. Where in your life is God calling you to step into bravery? What would it look like to give your fear to Him?
My parents sent me home videos of me twenty years ago, when I turned seven. After I blew out the candles on my cake, they asked me if I had a good day. I responded, “Yes. It was awesome. The best I’ve had.” I want to say that after every year, and I know that being brave is the only doorway to that kind of life.