Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's OK to Be Afraid

This post has been a long time coming. What I'm about to write about is something I have been thinking about this entire year, and on Tuesday last week, I was sitting at Panera eating my lunch when the words finally just came to mind, cohesively, and I started typing them out in a note on my phone as fast as I could. So here you have it.

I think we as Christians tend to believe that we should never be afraid and that we need to step it up in the faith department if we find ourselves feeling afraid. After all, the Bible does say not to worry, not to be anxious, and not to fear, and it says it a LOT. And I'm not here to advocate for giving in to brooding anxieties or constant worry about our lives, or for succumbing to the misguided belief that God will not pull us through whatever situation we find ourselves in, because that's clearly not what God wants us to do. But.

Isn't it true that being afraid forces us to embrace raw dependence on God? On Tuesday I was having a conversation with God (at Panera over a bowl of autumn squash soup) about how I so often feel afraid, underqualified, and overwhelmed at my new job. Not because the people aren't wonderful and the work isn't what I want to do--it's not that at all. It's that more often than not, I have no idea what I'm doing. 9 times out of 10 when I'm given an assignment to do, it is something I have never done before and I have to find a way to figure it out. I'm getting sworn in (yay!) a week from tomorrow, but that also means I will be licensed to practice law just in time for a major trial we have on November 13th--which means I will be not only attending the trial, but sitting at counsel table beside my boss and helping him plan strategy and figure out our next move. Kind of intimidating. I'm in a whole new world now, and I don't usually have a clue what I am doing, although I am starting, bit by bit, to learn. I'm having to get familiar with a whole different crowd of very experienced family law attorneys, and am often asked to go to events "on behalf of" my bosses or my firm. (You guys do know I have like 10 weeks of experience compared to your 20+ years, right??) Back in the summer, at one point I wrote in my journal something to the effect of: "Everything significant I have left to do this year scares me so much. Taking the bar exam, starting my job, getting licensed to practice law, moving, finding a new place to live, making new friends, etc. Everything." And sometimes, I do wonder if I can make the cut here, if I can be good enough as an attorney, and if I can overcome my inexperience and the fact that I'm younger than the next youngest attorney in my firm by 5 years. So just being honest, I feel afraid and "not cut out for this" a lot. I can't claim that I am diving into this with all confidence, because that's just not true.

But in that moment, telling God all these fears, I just felt Him saying in my spirit, "Lauren, you're acting like you came here to be comfortable. You didn't move here and take this job to be comfortable. You came here to make yourself and your life better, to be challenged and to grow, to develop new skills, and to stretch yourself to accomplish things you didn't believe you could accomplish. It's ok to be afraid sometimes. It's ok to have that adrenaline rush of looking at your life and realizing you have no clue what to do next and no clue whether you are even capable of doing that next thing. I want to induce in you a raw and constant grasping dependence on my Spirit and relentless straining for my presence, and this is how you get there. This. Not having a clue, not knowing what to do next, not sure you can make it through the next challenge without making a fool of yourself. This is where you're supposed to be AND it's how your're supposed to feel! This was never supposed to be easy, and you never signed up for something easy. Doing something significant is scary, and that is ok. You wouldn't have to be afraid if you were just sitting on your butt doing nothing or suppressing your potential, but that's not what I want for your life. If you were never afraid, you'd start convincing yourself that you don't need me. And you DO need me. Every day, every hour, every minute."

Well. After that little pep talk, I don't think I need to complain to God about being afraid anymore. Sometimes our deepest trust in our Savior is born of our greatest fears. And maybe, just maybe, if you feel like you aren't qualified and don't even know what your next move should be, you are exactly where God wants you to be for Him to show you--and the world through you--how strong and capable He is. Remember, He displays his greatest power in our greatest weakness. Pushing yourself to do things you don't believe you can do, but that you know you are called to do, puts you in a position to see God's power on display in your life.

I am not always capable, but I serve a God who IS always capable. I am not always enough, but He is enough, I can't always do it, be He can. I fail, but He doesn't. When I am afraid, He's got it covered. If my fear creates in me that moment-to-moment dependence on the power, guidance, and wisdom of God, then bring it on.

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