I've been thinking quite a bit lately about a quote I heard some time back; essentially, it says, "Each day, do at least one thing you are afraid of." Ever since I heard it, the idea has seeped bit by bit into my life--more and more often I look at opportunties that stir up fear in me, and I think, "This is my chance to do something I'm afraid of. This is where I grow."
The opportunities abound when you start looking for them. Some of them are more obvious. For example, I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Moab biking with a friend, and the Slickrock trail offered some hills that any sane person should be afraid of going down. I looked at those with a mixture of "This is my chance to do something I'm afraid of," and "I am probably going to die." But for the most part, I sucked it up (gripped my brakes for dear life) and rode down them. And true to the promise, I grew in some small way. (Slickrock also presented an opportunity for another favorite goal of mine: I don't just want to embrace opportunities to do things I fear, but also to do things that I may not necessarily be afraid of, but am pretty sure I can't do. The uphill sections taught me about tenacity, just as the downhills had shown me something of courage.)
Other opportunites are less obvious to those around us. Being afraid to sing a song upon request, or to ask for help, or to share a story you're less than proud of--I got to do all of those and more just in the course of a few days. And of course, something in my soul grew a little each time. Other times fear is hiding right on the flip side of where we'd expect it to be. Sometimes it's not the fear of doing some crazy thing that I need to overcome, but the fear of looking weak when I follow my common sense and walk away. Fear is not always where we'd expect to see it--in many ways, it is as individualized as a fingerprint.
If the enemy loves to steal, kill, and destroy, then I am convinced that fear is one of his favorite tools. Fear steals adventure and opportunity, it kills joy and passion, and it destroys much potential and many a beautiful relationship. If we are to refuse its evils, we'll have to open our eyes to the myriad ways fear creeps into our lives. It is not just the sensation you get when watching some horror film (which I hate) or those butterflies that rise up when you narrowly miss a car in oncoming traffic. It is also the little voice that says it's too embarrassing, or that you'll be rejected, or that you might fail. It is the hesitation that caused you to linger just long enough to watch opportunity slip by.
God tells us clearly that he has not given us a spirit of fear. Jesus offers us abundance where the thief can only rob us. So I pass on to you what was once passed on to me: every chance we get, my friends, let us do the things we're afraid of.