As I embark into my 30’s, I often reflect on my 20’s. They were exciting and filled with everything from college graduations, breakups, death, bouts of loneliness, promotions and romantic encounters. Looking back I ask myself, who was this girl and how did she keep it together?!
I was a big ball of insecurity mixed with pride, pettiness, and impatience; an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. A lot of times I didn’t keep it together, but we all know how to make things appear better than they seem.
Ultimately, I thank God for grace and a receptive heart that knew it had to change. Now as I approach 31, I consider myself a better woman and ultimately a more balanced human being. Looking back at my college years and post-college graduation period, I believe my biggest character flaw was fear.
I’ve learned that fear isn’t always active; many times it’s our unwillingness to change, unwillingness to try something new, or unwillingness to let go of something or someone. For instance, watching a friend make bad decisions and keeping silent because they’ll get upset. Avoiding a big decision by making excuses, or allowing a bad experience to be the reason to never try again.
I’ve done all of it. Mulled over decisions endlessly. Told myself I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, connected enough, liked enough and so on. Reluctantly, a couple of years ago, I really started reading my bible. I mean I really started studying scripture beyond the well-known Daily Bread we keep in the bathroom.
I began praying three to four times a day, fasting, getting off social media, meditating and it has truly made a difference. My devotions showed me over and over that everybody God ever used had a limitation. Everyone had a flaw, a setback or an impediment. But God still used them.
Over time, I realized my fears controlled me. I had to be perfect to even try. I magnified my flaws, not allowing me to see my strengths. I was getting in my own way and allowing the enemy to defeat me in my mind. This epiphany caused me to promise myself to never go back to that way of living.
As cliché as it may sound to some, scripture is the only thing that got me through because it’s the only thing that didn’t change. People changed, circumstances changed, my feelings always changed. So I meditated on Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
That scripture is so powerful to me. It relaxes my soul, eases my mind and gives me joy. It’s a constant reminder that God has everything under control. What I lack, He will fill, and where I’m weak He is strong. Where I’m tired He will give me rest. And boy was I tired. A mind filled with worry, doubt and reasoning tends to produce mental fatigue because this mind is consumed with figuring everything out.
Now that I’ve found this new place of rest, I’m refocusing my energy on the things I was created to do. I believe I have the gift of exhortation. Because my mind is in a healthier state, I can see that God has put me in places to use my gift. I am an encourager. I try to daily speak life into someone by saying something positive. Not an overdose of cheap flattery, by genuine encouragement to someone who may never hear they are enough.
Since then my life has changed tremendously. Coming out of my fears allowed me to take on challenges, try new things and discover my gifts. For example, I submitted a proposal to work on a national marketing campaign at my job. Reading the requirements at first glance had me excited. I knew our team had never done a project like it, but I believed we were capable. Plus a challenge tends to bring out the best in people.
Initially, when I began to think about it, I had some doubts come to my mind. “When will we have time to do this?” “I don’t want to be the only person excited about this?” “What if we put all this work in and don’t get selected.” The enemy crept up again! But this time he didn’t win! I leaned not on my own understanding and applied. Last week I got an e-mail from the CEO letting me know they were impressed with our proposal and would like to interview our team. My supervisor is excited and sees the positive impact it can have on the department.
This is just one of the many things that has come out of me letting go of my fears and believing the word of God over my feelings. Because the truth is, our feelings can lie to us. Not always, but before you make the mistakes I made, test your feelings against scripture. Fear is not of God! Cancel it before it has any place in your life.