fear(less)

Fear is something I have struggled with off and on my whole life.

I’m not sure why it started, but even from a young age I was afraid of a bunch of things.

We weren’t allowed to watch horror movies growing up but I could barely even watch the “normal” Super Hero movies until about eighth grade (lol no joke, I’d have my eyes covered through half of it). I struggled sleeping alone and I was scared of roller coasters. My fear of people rejecting me and me not being good enough were the worst fears; I mean the list goes on and on.

I think many of us can admit that fear has frozen us in our tracks from doing things that we know we should have done. I almost didn’t go to Saint Lucia last year because I was afraid, and I think I have said multiple times, that missions trip saved my life and made me so unbelievably thankful for everything. I sometimes wonder what my life would look like now if I didn’t go on that trip. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is today. But that doesn’t mean that old familiar fear doesn’t sometimes come knocking.

So how do we learn not to let fear run our lives? And how can we tell the difference between fear, genuine concern and when to use common sense or take a risk?

As I’ve been writing this, I am starting to think of things associated with fear and how it can be recognized in our everyday lives. Where does fear start? Many times I find anxiety is a form of fear and it starts in our own heads. If you have anxiety being around large groups of people, isn’t that usually fear that you are not going to say or do the right thing or that they won’t accept you? Those anxious thoughts in our heads…where do they come from and why do we listen?

Anxiety is just fear wearing a mask. And we let it paralyze us without even realizing it.

Recently I had a thought that stopped me in my tracks as I was driving home. I saw a shooting star so I started to make a wish, like most of us would, then I thought… why am I making a wish? Like do I really think this will come true? And then I thought, what is stopping me from pursing that wish myself and making it a reality? And the answer to that question was obvious to me in that moment.

Fear of failure.

But WHY do we think this way? What is there to lose? As I drove I realized something….if I am following after my Creator and doing what He has called me to do, am I ever really failing or am I just “failing” at what the world’s standards are?

I think sometimes I tend to forget that God doesn’t have the same values that we do here on Earth. At the end of our lives, He doesn’t say, “Nope, I see you only made $20,000 a year and didn’t drive a Jeep so I’m sorry you can’t stay here in Heaven.” If He judged our worth the way society judges our worth, I think a lot of us would be in trouble. But instead He looks at our intentions and our hearts. He loves us despite our mistakes and

He never leaves us. So just remember this thought next time you want to go out of your comfort zone to do something good or if God puts dreams in your heart, He sees your motives and if you’re following after Him, trusting He is a big and faithful God that allows what’s best for you, He will provide.

So here’s one last thought. How can we tell the difference between fear and legitimate concerns? I think most of the time it comes down to research, common sense and prayer.

Like obviously if you don’t think it’s a good idea to jump of a high cliff, that isn’t being fearful, that’s being smart. But get your facts straight before you rule out anything. If you jump off that high cliff with a bungee cord or onto something soft below, why not jump? We have a habit as humans to sometimes use our own experiences to make decisions without looking at the big picture.

Being “afraid” seems like it’s just part of our human nature but God does not want us to live like this. If you truly accept Jesus into your heart and allow His peace to overwhelm you then will find your “worst fears” and being afraid will vanish. Even if your situation feels scary know that God is bigger and His promises can get you through those times. If you’re not sure what all that means, please reach out to me so I can explain a little more!

It’s super important not to give in to fear, but instead realize we have God on our side, who made this whole planet and already won the battle over fear, sickness and sin through His son Jesus! He loves you and has His millions of angels surrounding you with safety every second!

So I challenge you to face a fear…. go in the ocean, apply for that job, talk to that person, try out for that team, sign up for that missions trip, go after your dreams and don’t numb yourself with things like drinking and drugs to make yourself feel better in the moment. Instead of letting fear control you, start seeing life for the adventure that it is, because God has put some awesome gifts and beautiful things inside you that you shouldn’t be afraid to share with the world!

Don’t be afraid to contact me and tell me what fears you faced this week, and/or if I can pray for you, because remember fear is a liar and has nothing on you! Love y’all! Xoxo

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Comfort Zone

If you know me then you know I can be an adventurous person who likes doing different things (most of the time), but I HATE the unknown. I have struggled with new things so much that sometimes it gave me major anxiety and I felt physically sick over it. I definitely preferred being in my comfort zone of knowing what to expect and when. The unknown still can scare the heck out of me but recently I have tried to do a better job of living in the moment and trying not to have anxiety about the future (or the past). Being unsure and uncomfortable isn’t enjoyable at all but I get that it’s a normal part of life.

Lately, when I find myself starting to worry I remind myself that I can just do the best I know how to as situations come up. Let’s face it, some stuff we have to experience in life just won’t feel good. It’s hard and if I try to ignore the pain or rush through the process to make myself “comfortable” what good is that in the long run? I want to know at the end of the day I gave it my best to become stronger and smarter instead of just slapping a band-aid on something to make myself temporarily feel better. Some days I don’t do such a great job with this but I realize being comfortable isn’t always what’s best for us.

I have been put to the test recently. About a month ago, I was offered an opportunity to apply for a missions trip to Saint Lucia. My first reaction was “OMG YES!”

But….

I started to worry. And I literally talked myself out of it.

I won’t know anyone. I’ll be gone two weeks. How will I raise the money? I’ll be away over my birthday. I can’t do something this big by myself.

All these thoughts flooded my mind and I decided not to do it. But the offer was still open a few days ago. I stopped in my tracks and reconsidered when my mom asked the question, “Does the thought of it give you butterflies and stir your heart every time you think about it? If it does, and then you talk yourself out of it then you know the answer!”

And I realized it did give me butterflies and stir my heart every time I thought about it but I was afraid to leave my comfort zone. I knew God was calling me to do it. I didn’t want to ignore doing what was meant for me to do because of being afraid or feeling uncomfortable.

So I’m gonna go for it!

Honestly, this was all happening over the last few months while I still was struggling with regret…dwelling on the past and feeling like I never do anything right or always wishing to change the past. I actually used to lay awake in bed late at night and work myself into a panic attack over past mistakes – SOMETHING NO ONE CAN CHANGE!!!! Although I still have some rough times when it is tough to not think about memories with people I miss I’ve tried to learn from mistakes and know that things will be good again one day. And this time I’m willing to give up being comfortable in exchange for being fearless. I believe that God will close a door for our own good and open up a new one that will lead us places we never could have dreamed of if we trust Him and don’t let fear stop us.

So I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone this summer…take a road trip someplace new, ask that girl out on a date, make a new friend, if you love someone then tell him or her before it’s too late, write/paint/sing something even if you never tried before; just take a deep breath and do something that scares you! It may not always end up the way you expect it to, but you can know that at least you had the courage to try.

No more regrets.

Comfortable is forgettable. It’s just okay. Thrilling and memorable are worth the risk of leaving your comfort zone. So what are you waiting for? GO!

 

Being Vulnerable

Being vulnerable. Opening up. Trusting someone to know the real me…not just the good parts that I want people to see. That’s scary.

I have really struggled in my past with not having the best judgment when it comes to who to trust and who not to trust. I seemed to always get burned by the same flame twice, or in reality, more like eight times.

It’s really tough to decide when to be vulnerable or to trust someone because we never truly know another person’s motives. I had been told many times in the past I was “too trusting” because people have used that trust to manipulate me or gossip about me. After hearing this over and over then being hurt because of it, I just stopped being vulnerable with people, put on the fake smile and built walls so high around my heart that nobody was going to have the power to hurt me ever again.

And sadly I didn’t even realize I did it.

I went from trusting almost everyone I talked to and trying to see the good in everyone to refusing to be vulnerable with anyone, even people who loved me and should have earned my trust. During this time, I hurt the people I loved the most because I just couldn’t put into words what I was feeling or what I was struggling with and my anxiety went through the roof. I second-guessed every decision I made, listened to bad advice and then got defensive over my mistakes. I felt sick most of the time. Depending on who I was with was how I would feel and act. Because of how insecure I was, I cared wayyyy too much about what everyone said about me. I overthought every situation and just basically shut down.

And again, I didn’t even realize I did it.

I didn’t want to let anyone see the real me with failures, doubts and shame, so my doors were closed and locked. My closest relationships struggled because I was afraid of trusting anyone with the truth of things I did in my past that I regretted and if they did know I figured they judged me for them. I just couldn’t let myself be vulnerable with those closest to me so it was a downward spiral of me not opening up, being crazy moody, pushing the people I loved away, then feeling rejected and hating myself when they gave up on me because I didn’t think I was valuable enough to fight for.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I started to figure out this destructive habit of mine. It was actually a conversation with my mom over a hurtful situation that helped me realize it. She said, “In order to  get help and be understood, you need to ask for help and communicate how you really feel. Stop pretending you don’t care or it’s going to cause more pain.”

It was then it dawned on me that I was actually the one not fighting for me so how could I expect anyone else to?

Although that sounds like such an obvious thing, it’s harder than it seems when you aren’t really aware of closing yourself off. If we act like we are just fine in the lifestyle we are living and we don’t tell anyone what’s actually going on with us, everyone will assume we are good, when in reality we are paralyzed with pain and too afraid or proud to admit it.

So the reason for writing this is to encourage you that it’s okay to be vulnerable and trust people who love you even when what you want to share is messy. It’s actually been a relief to admit painful things and it has helped me move on from my past and make better decisions. It’s also normal to struggle being vulnerable, but just make sure you invest in people you trust.  And please don’t make the mistake I did of realizing it too late and losing a good relationship over not being able to open up and being afraid if someone special really knows the good and the bad parts of you they will leave you. That fear just led to insecurity and confusion then before I knew it, my entire thought process was wreaked. Keep in mind that if someone does leave because they don’t like or want to hear about the messy parts of your life, then you are better off  because that was not love (but that’s a whole other post for another day!).

Trust is a balance like anything else in life I guess. I have tried getting better with this by taking my time getting to know someone first and praying about it. And you can observe a lot about people’s motives and loyalty by how they talk about others. And listen, you may be vulnerable a few times and not get the response you were hoping for. We all make mistakes on both sides of trust but learn from them and don’t give up.

Recently I have really gotten a better sense of who I can trust to open up to and who doesn’t invest in me enough to be allowed access to the stuff below the surface. It’s important that we are also trustworthy…it can’t just be one-sided. I still try to see the good in people, but I do it VERY carefully and with the understanding that it takes some time and effort to know who to be vulnerable with. Just don’t be afraid to do that with the right people at the right time.