I've learned to slam on the breaks before I even turn the key

I’ve never really had any phobias.  As a child I prided myself in not being scared of things.  I was in no way a daredevil, but I also wasn’t afraid of snakes, spiders, heights or other things the kids my age were afraid of.  Turns out I was also not that afraid of getting in trouble either.

For most of my childhood, we lived in a neighborhood that was a big circle and at the base of the two streets was a cul-de-sac.  Along the edge of that cul-de-sac was a line of pine trees that was our boundary.  We could play anywhere in the neighborhood as long as we stayed on this side of those trees.  Because just beyond those trees was the highway – Route 17.  But, along Route 17 was a gas station and the only thing we needed to do was cut through the trees, walk along a little path and then we had access to ice cream, candy and all the pop we could dream of drinking. 

But of course, the gas station was off limits unless we were with an adult – it was past our boundary.  But I wasn’t scared. At the ripe old age of 8 or 9, I thought I had it all together.  I could lead the crowd of kids to the gas station no problem.  The reward was far greater than the risk of getting caught. 

I look back now and see how ridiculous I was – in a world where we hear about car accidents, abductions and millions of other things going wrong within moments of them happening, I see now how foolish I was as a spunky little kid. 

Of course I did get caught.  Of course I did get punished.  And the punishment worked – I never went back to the gas station just beyond the trees that became my boundary.  For the remainder of my time on Sherwood Dr, I didn’t go past that boundary.

As we grew up, as we moved around the boundaries my parents put on us changed.  And the spunky kid in me never really changed, I constantly challenged those boundaries.  But because we lived in a small town and everyone new my mom – I got caught… a lot. 

Although somewhere along the way, I started to lose my spunk.  The courage that had always been inside of me started to slip away.  I cared more about what others thought of me.  I cared more about whether or not I was making my parents proud.  My boundaries became firmer and less negotiable. 

In some ways, it was a good thing.  I started living in ways that would make my parents proud, never stepping out of the boundaries set for me. 

In other ways, it was debilitating.  Somewhere around middle school or high school I became hyper aware of what others thought of me.  I think some of it was knowing that I was different from my peers in a lot of ways.  All I wanted to do was fit in with everyone else.  I let other people set the boundaries for my actions. 

I began living out of fear.  The fear of losing something that I thought I could obtain by staying in the lines.  Sometimes it was stability I was craving, or approval, or to simply not be the one always sticking out like a sore thumb.  That fear began to rule my life. 

It wasn’t until I was in Seminary that I started to see that fear had become the ruler of my life. 

I’ve started to realize that I am at my best when surrounded by the people who love me the most/best.  I am able to fully be that confident somewhat crazy woman I was created to be.  I think we all know that to be true, but I’m realizing that the fear that’s dictating my life has also created my own glass ceiling.  It makes me afraid to ask for what I know I’m worth.  It makes me afraid to put myself on the line because I’m afraid of what could happen. 

I’m learning to manage that fear.  I’m learning to do a gut check and see what I’m really feeling at any given moment.  Am I afraid because the risk doesn’t seem worth the reward?  Or am I afraid because the risk is known but the reward is unknown? 

It’s easy to take a leap when we know the reward outweighs the risk.  But what if we don’t know what the reward will be?  Can we still take the jump?  Am I capable of crossing the boundary someone else put up for me when I don’t know what’s on the other side?

and I learned to dance with the fear that I'd been running from

This week’s #FridayFive’s prompt is Fear/Fearless.  Over on MrsDisciple.com, Kelly writes about the truths that she fights fear with – truths given by God to his people through the Bible.  It’s a really good post – plus a great giveaway!  You should all go over there and read it too – okay?  Okay!
Fear is a tricky thing.  It creeps up on you and can keep you from living well.  It’s a real emotion that stems from places of deep feeling – deep love and deep hurt.  Fear of losing loved ones, fear of being alone, fear of sickness, tragedy, not living up to your potential.  Fear is real, even when we don’t think it is, and the best way we can deal with it is to face it head on.   So for my #FridayFive, I present….

#FridayFive – Ways to live Fearless

I’m no master.  But I have dealt with some major fear in my life and at some point I had to look it in the eye and tell it that it wasn’t going to hold me back anymore.  (And then keep doing it over and over again.) Here are five things or ways I deal with fear in my life.
The promises of God
(Like I said at the top, go read Kelly’s post for more on this one) The Bible is full of some great truths on God’s desires for our lives.  He desires the best, he wants us to be whole and complete – but we live in a broken world.  Things happen to us, in us, through us that cause deep deep pain.  That’s what fear comes from, the deep pain we’ve either already experienced or have seen others experience.  But when we read God’s words we know that he wants us to have the beautiful and free life, that one day we will be fully reconciled.  We will have shalom – wholeness.  We rest assured on the promises of God.
The Presence of God
I did a Beth Moore study once where she talked about fear.  She encouraged us to name our biggest fear.  To fill in the blank – If ___________ happens then _________.  The first blank is where our fear goes and the second one she filled in with “God.”  As if to say, if our biggest fears came true, then God.  He will help us to pick up the pieces.  About a week after that happened, my greatest fear actually happened.  And she was right – God was there.  His presence was so tangible in my life during that time and it helped me to walk through it.  And even though now the blank has new fears in it, I can point back to what he’s already done and say – I’d be okay.  It would hurt, but I’d be okay.
My People
That’s what I call my community.  My closest friends and family.  In the words of Jen Hatmaker – they’re my tribe.  My people.  And they help me to live fearlessly because I know they have my back.  They are the best encouragers, the best listening ears, the best prayers.  They are my ride or die people.  They help me to see the beauty in my life, even in the midst of pain.  They are real and vulnerable and they speak such truth and kindness into my life.  I can look fear in the face because I know on either side of me, I’m flanked by my people.
The Beauty of Creation
Jesus tells his followers in the Gospels not to worry because God’s got it.  Then he points to creation all around him to demonstrate his point.  God has made this world around us to live in such harmony, he has orchestrated such rhythms – how can I not see that he can orchestrate rhythm from my chaos.  Or what I see as chaos.  In him all things are possible – even the healing of a broken heart.
It really is the best medicine.  Whenever I’m feeling the pull of fear, the weight of this world crushing in all around me – I just seek out some laughter.  I call home and ask for my silliest niece.  I call up my friends and say I need to dance it out.  Sometimes you need to cry, to talk it all out.  But other times you just need to let go and laugh.  You just need a reminder that life is good and that for this moment, you’re okay.  And then you just take a moment at a time.
Fear is real.  Don’t let anyone downplay your fears.  But when you look them in the eye, you can live fearless.  What helps you to live fearless?