One of our fellow travelers, the one who inevitably tries to hitch a ride on our back, is Fear. I capitalize Fear because, in my life, Fear takes on the shape and influence of a real being, a created thing with a proper name. I’ve never taken a journey in which Fear hasn’t threatened to knock me off course.
I read an article recently, in which Beyoncé discussed fearless women, the kind of women who know what they want out of life and chase it relentlessly. She said she grew up surrounded by strong women, giving special credit to her mother. Fearless is what she knows and who she aims to be. At this point in my reading, I had two thoughts: 1) Beyoncé and I will never be best friends because sometimes I think Fear is my spiritual gift, and 2) What does my Fear teach my daughters?
After graduating from a very small, very safe Christian middle school, I transferred to a very large, very scary public high school. I mean scary in the truest sense of the word. I was physically threatened more than once, kids treated lunchroom fights as a sporting event, a number of students carried weapons, and the school employed its share of security guards. I knew exactly one person and I felt terrified. I tried the old, “what’s the worst that can happen?” trick, but when I imagined the worst? It looked suspiciously like my real life experience. I struggled to make friends, fellow students threatened me, one security guard believed it her personal mission to chase me down the hall every morning, and I never found a place where I truly fit in.
I walked into school every day for four years trying to shake Fear off my back, and while it never quite left me, I learned to invite Courage to come along too. Courage isn’t the absence of Fear, it’s taking another step on the journey in spite of it. Fear tells us to abandon the journey; Courage tells us to stay the course. I may never live fearless, but I will live courageous. While Beyoncé may not understand this, I plan to live in such a way that my daughters do.
If Fear tries to make itself your constant companion, invite Courage to travel with you. Who knows, they may end up in a fist-fight in the lunchroom and Courage will come out on top. If not, security will pull them apart and they can battle again tomorrow.
Are you traveling with Fear? Where have you invited Courage?
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