I hate fear. Fear is the worst. So I thought instead of pretending I’m totally cool with everything in life and faking it, I would just do what I always do: call myself out in front of the entire internet.
When I was in elementary school, I remember being called into the counseling office because my teachers were concerned about my stress level. (You read that right—elementary school.) As a kid, and always, I had a lot of interests and my teachers were concerned that my parents were pushing me into being involved in too much. I was completely unaware of what they were talking about because my parents have never pushed me into anything; I just liked a lot of different things. This has always been the case. It is still the case today and believe me, it can be a joy or a real stress inducer.
There are a million different things I’d like to spend my life doing and I almost always feel that anything is possible. Sometimes when I think about how many different career and personal goals I’d ideally like to achieve, I hit a brick wall. There is not enough time in one lifetime to be fully devoted to everything there is to be devoted to. I think this is part of growing up—learning to make choices. Here’s the problem with making choices and/or growing up: I inevitably end up feeling as though one choice really means a sacrifice. One choice, by definition, means not choosing another. It means a closed door. It means a decision, not always finite, but generally speaking, a decisive end to another option. And I like options.
Why is this a problem? Living my life this way creates a situation wherein I am never fully satisfied, always feel like I am giving something up, and instead of seeing a life of exciting choices, feel like I am really looking at a life of sacrifice. In some ways, this is just life and what I’m learning is that it doesn’t have to be a bad, or scary, thing. Some choices are both scary and wonderful, such as choosing a person to spend your life with. Choosing that person means not choosing anyone else for as long as you both shall live. It means sacrifice. It means just as many no’s as it means yes’s. It means saying no to people who would like to date you. It means saying no to self-centeredness. It means saying no to being single. It means loads of compromise about future endeavors. It means saying no to making huge life decisions without discussing it with another person. That’s huge and potentially scary, but also amazing and rewarding. One choice often means saying “no” to something else, but I’m learning to see a choice as moving in a direction, not as the slam of a door, because I’ve been learning more about the amazing places to which a choice can move you. The best choices I’ve made so far in life don’t leave me with regrets and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something else. I’ve just got to remember to trust that.
I get ahead of myself. I try to decide now about things I’m not ready to decide yet. Right now, staying home with my someday kids sounds like a joy but also sounds like sacrificing a career I’d love to have. I’m also afraid of doing both, concerned that I’ll do neither well. I want too much. I love too many things. I get lost.
I have faith that I’ll get to the place where that choice and all of these future choices are no longer difficult to make. I think that when I’m there, it won’t feel like a sacrifice, it will just feel like the best choice. When I stop thinking this way and get all wrapped up in the “what if’s” and “how’s,” that’s when fear takes hold. I’m afraid I’ll make the wrong choices. I’m afraid of not living up to my full potential. I’m afraid I’ll choose in a way that will cause me to waste this one precious life I have been issued. I’m afraid.
Here’s what I know: God is in control when I am spiraling out of it. Fear should have no hold on me because it is powerless. Choices are what keep me from being stuck in the same exact place forever and I do want to be devoted to a husband, to a family, to something more than me, something I’m passionate about, and ultimately, to Jesus. All of these are choices. Beautiful, intricate choices made over and over and over again a hundred times a day, and I am learning more and more about being prepared for the task. And, as cliché as it sounds, life is beautiful and my problem really is that I’m so excited about all of life’s possibilities that I don’t know which interest to pursue. That’s a good place—an open place—to be and it may not last forever. I’m learning to take in the season; to relish the journey, and that the fear of wasting my life is the only thing actually inhibiting it.
If you’re afraid of this, or of anything, I get it. You’re not alone. But I know from personal experience that we don’t have to stay that way.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
"I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34: 4