A quick note before today’s post: In case you missed it, my new ebook Fear, I’m Over You: A 21-Day Challenge to Live with Less Worry and More Courage, released last week. YOU made it a bestseller on Amazon. Thank you! It’s still only $1.99 for a limited time (crazy!).
My parents tell the story of how I, at age five, climbed up a ladder and fearlessly jumped off a high diving board. I remember that moment—the smell of chlorine and sunscreen, the blue water beneath me, the Texas summer heat radiating off the board.
What I sometimes don’t remember as a grown-up is how it feels to be that brave, to stand at the edge of a dream or opportunity and have the guts to just go for it, let my feet leave what’s solid, let my fingers touch the sky and dare to fly.
Mark and I had a conversation about my fear recently. I’d been dreaming of doing something for years. I’d tiptoe up to the edge of it, then back away slowly. “Not now,” I’d tell myself. “Tomorrow. Today it’s too scary.” Then I’d research more, rereading things I already knew just to make myself feel more certain. But it never really worked.
I asked Mark, “How sure do I need to be that I can do this before I start?” He’s a wise and responsible person, so I expected him to say, “One hundred percent, of course.” But instead, he said, “Seventy-five percent.”
For whatever reason, I took his answer seriously. I climbed the diving board of this dream again and jumped right off the end of it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough as a start. And because I’m actually doing it rather than just dreaming about it, I’m getting better at it every day.
After this experience, I started wondering why so many of us believe we need to be 100 percent sure of something to move forward with it. One reason might be our thinking God is a micromanager and His will is a tiny, mysterious target we must figure out how to hit or there will be catastrophic consequences.
But Jesus told a parable about a boss going away on a trip and leaving his workers in charge. When the boss comes back, he asks each worker what they did with what was entrusted to them. To the one who invested what he was given, took risks, and jumped off the diving board, the boss says, “Well done.” Grace is not a tiny target; it’s an endless pool.
Here’s what that parable made me realize: God is in control, and I am in charge. Saying we have to be 100 percent sure about something can be a way of avoiding the fear that comes with taking responsibility for our lives.
When we make a decision about something that matters to us, we will always experience fear. It’s how we’re wired as humans. Fear is our brain’s way of informing us that something important is at stake. We can try to avoid fear by telling ourselves we need to be 100 percent sure about what we’re doing. But as long as we care about what we’re doing or how it turns out, our fear will never go away completely. The opposite of fear isn’t certainty; it’s apathy.
I’m not advocating for impulsivity. I believe in intentionality. This is about the times when fear is trying to hold us back from all God has for us, when we’ve known for a long time deep down what we want to do. When we’re standing at the edge of the same diving board for the one hundredth time, toes curled around the edge, endless horizon in front of us, endless possibilities within us.
Cheering You On,
This post is an excerpt from my new ebook, Fear I’m Over You: A 21-Day Challenge to Live with Less Worry and More Courage. It’s still only $1.99 for a limited time and you can gift it to others!
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