Fear. So often it stops us in our tracks. Causes us to turn back, to worry, to wonder, to weigh the pros and cons and to play the “what if” game for way too long. Sometimes, we can evaluate decisions for so long that the choice or opportunity no longer exists.
So fear wins. And we lose. Sometimes, the world loses too.
For many of you, my story of conquering a Mount Everest of fear will seem crazy. My mountain might seem like an anthill to you. But even if my cause for trepidation differs greatly from a fear you’re battling, I hope that the lessons from my journey will encourage you.
I was terrified of becoming a mother. TERRIFIED. I had lots of good reasons for being afraid. My husband was 13 years old than me. His health wasn’t the greatest. I was over 35. Our marriage had many struggles. Mike was a partner in a small business that was on a rapid descent toward failure. I had a great job with IBM, but knew I couldn’t continue in my workaholic ways and be a decent mom. I was already a stepmother to three older children and that wasn’t easy.
Approaching this life-changing decision of becoming a mother from a purely analytical viewpoint would have easily kept me childless and on the ladder of career success and security.
But this wasn’t just about my life. It was about bringing another life into the world. And most importantly, it was about seeking God’s best for my life.
I started to pray. To pray for peace. To pray for direction. As a Christ follower, my heart’s desire is to please Jesus with my life and with my decisions, big and small. And this was a big one. My husband was very supportive of our having a child and kept telling me that I would be a wonderful mother. But I wasn’t so sure.
All I could see was the Mt. Everest of fears and the many reasons why I should play it safe.
Enter, my friend Julie. We had much in common: a shared commitment to Christ as well as being fellow IBMers. Julie, too, was married to someone who was significantly older, and she, too, was a stepmother. But Julie had taken the step of faith toward motherhood, and had been blessed with two children. And she kept telling me about the wonders of motherhood. (All I could think of were the ill-behaved children who tormented me during my babysitting years.) Julie would regularly bring me articles about the joys of motherhood. A natural salesperson, she was very convincing. And very persistent. But I still had no peace. So I kept praying.
One Sunday, our pastor was preaching a message about the importance of trusting God and used the example of the Apostle Peter stepping out of the boat onto the water in order to walk toward Jesus. (Matthew 14) When Peter kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, he was fine. But when he looked around at the winds and the waves and the “circumstances,” he started to sink.
Then, it hit me. More than anything else, my decision was about trusting God. Yes, there were lots of “winds and waves” that could make me sink. Although I didn’t want to miss the unique privilege of motherhood, I had been allowing fear to keep me “in the boat,” playing it safe. At that very moment, I said “yes” to God. I would step out in faith.
The very next month, I became pregnant. Despite having a high-pressured job, I did not have one moment of morning sickness. Anne was born one week early and just 35 minutes after we arrived at the hospital!
Have the past 21 years been easy? Not in the least. Some of my fears did come true. My husband died when Anne was 16. I did leave my well-paying, secure job when Anne was 2. And now I’m in uncharted waters as I pursue my dreams with Leave Nothing Unsaid. Not easy. So many uncertainties. Lots and lots of “winds and waves.”
Do I have earthly security? Nope! Do I have the assurance that my business will succeed? Nope! Do I still worry that I’ll be a bag lady in my 80’s? Sometimes!
But did I make the right decision back in 1991? Oh yes. A million times, yes. Because the decision wasn’t just about me. The decision to trust God with my greatest fear resulted in my greatest blessing: my daughter. She’s in college now, leading a very full life. But when I see the lives that she has impacted, the people she continues to bless, the difference that she is making with her life, I realize that my big decision wasn’t just about me. It was about what God wanted to do as a result of my trusting Him.
Are you facing a huge, life-changing decision? Does fear have you frozen in place? Here are some of the biggest lessons that I learned:
1. Making the best decision isn’t just based on analyzing the facts. And sometimes, the best decision can seem crazy from a worldly standpoint.
2. The most important thing we can do is to seek God’s direction and will.
3. Pray for peace about your decision.
4. Seek input from multiple sources of Godly counsel.
5. Remember that no other person can definitively tell you what God’s will is for your life.
6. When you step out of the boat, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. You might have rough conditions, but God will be faithful to guide and protect you.
7. Life seems to be a series of “stepping out of the boat” decisions. Keep a journal of God’s faithfulness in your life. It’s a great antidote to fear.
Do you feel frozen in fear right now? Ever had a “stepping out of the boat” experience? Your story can encourage others. Please share!
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