Friday, October 31, 2014

This is Me: Completely and Totally Exposed...

"Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant."
Galatians 1:10

This post was originally part of the 31 Day Writing Challenge:  31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith--DAY 31:  Fear of Being Vulnerable

This is me.  No make-up on.  No forced smile.  No flat-ironed or hot-rolled hair.  No clothes.  No matching accessories.  Nothing.


Just me.

Naked.  Exposed.  Vulnerable.  

I'm imperfect.  I've made mistakes.  I continue to make mistakes.  I've hurt others.  I've hurt myself.  I've hurt God.  I've disappointed others.  I've disappointed myself.  I've disappointed God.   

Much of my life, I've learned to put on a happy sweep things under the pretend like everything was ok.  Not out of being fake, but simply out of not wanting to burden others with my problems...or not wanting to face my own struggles...or not wanting to be judged because of my weaknesses...or not wanting to be vulnerable.  It felt uncomfortable. 

And so I didn't share what was really going on in my life.   It was lonely, and yet my silence gave me a false sense of security and power.  I just plain did not want to appear weak.  I did not want to be vulnerable.
Well, I think...I think I might have gotten over the fear of being vulnerable now! 
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”   Criss Jami

Throughout this 31 Day Writing Challenge, I've been very open and honest.  I've revealed very, very personal information about my worries...and, of course all of my fears.  I've shared about my fears of:
Being Alone
Being Less
Not Being Good Enough
Making Mistakes
Being Left Out
Being Judged
Broken Trust
Saying "No"
Saying "Yes"
Being Disappointed
Being Disappointing
My Weaknesses
Not Being Liked
Hurting Someone
Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone
Being a Bad Mom
Being a Bad Wife
The Unknown
Being Vulnerable

Honestly, I'm exhausted.  I feel very raw, naked, and exposed to the core.  In my mind, the goal in writing these blogs was to simply free myself from these fears.  That was my vision, at least.

I had no idea what God's vision was.  

His goal...His purpose was so much more than that.  Yes, He absolutely wanted to free me from these fears, but He also wanted to teach me about strength and that true strength doesn't come from pretending to have it all together or never making mistakes or being perfect all the time.  True strength comes from sharing my imperfections, admitting my weakness, and exposing the dark areas of my inner self.   

John 1: 4-5 says "Life itself is in Him, and this life gives Light to everyone.  The Light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." 

God wanted to use my stories...use my vulnerability......use my fears to take me from a place of weakness to a place of take me from a place of darkness to a place of light.   His Light! 

Because God's Light shined in me, there was healing.  Because I have accepted His Light, I can truly surrender to His unconditional love, His undeniable mercy, His unbelievable forgiveness, and His unending grace. 

I have learned to love confident in who I am...accept the way that God created me...and feel worthy and deserving of God's goodness.  I have learned to love myself to the core...flaws and all. 

His Light shines in me and now it can shine through me.  By releasing my fears of being vulnerable and following God's lead by being so transparent, God was able to shine His Light through me onto you.  

He was able to use my stories to bless you, encourage you and inspire you on your own path in life.  God's plan for us is so much bigger than we ever realize, but we have to surrender to Him and be willing to be vulnerable.

Are you ready to release your fears of being vulnerable to Him?  Are you ready to accept the freedom that comes with being more open and honest about your life?
Lord, today, I give my fear of being vulnerable to You.  Keeping everything inside of me is toxic.  There is freedom to be gained in the truth.  There is strength to be gained in being vulnerable.  Give me the courage to shout off the rooftops about all that You've done in my life.  Take away my fears of being rejected or judged or pleasing people and help me to focus only on pleasing You and Your mission for my life.  Lord, shine Your light into my fears of being vulnerable and help me to walk forward boldly and confidently knowing that through faith in You, You give me Light and the strength I need to shine within as well as shine to the world.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Start from the beginning of this journey of 31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 30: Fear of Change--Good-Bye to My Childhood Home

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  Hebrews 13:8
DAY 30:  Fear of Change-Good-Bye to My Childhood Home
After 32 years, my parents are moving out of my childhood home.  Maybe you've visited there before.  It's small, but was never too small for lots of guests.  It's modest, but was always full of the best love that money could never buy.  It's simple, but was full of the complexities of life for a family of four.  It was my home. 
It was a home that my mom, my dad, Bitsy our dog, Heather our cat, Ricky our raccoon, and I moved into when I was only seven years old.  I was so excited to explore the 20 acres of trees, and I was especially excited to finally have my own bedroom and my very own closet. 
When we opened the front door together, none of us had any idea of all the memories that would be made in this new place that was about to become our home. 
I had no idea that the very door we had opened would be the door that I would walk through before going to my first gymnastics meet...before going to my first day of junior high...before going to my first dance...before going on my first date...before going to cheer at my first basketball game...before getting my driver's license...before going to my first prom...before heading off to college...
Before burying our pet raccoon...before saying good-bye to many family members...
I had no idea that the very door we had opened would be the door that I would walk through after dancing my first dance...after getting my ear's pierced...after our basketball team won an exciting game...after an exhausting but fun Mercer Family vacation...after a long day of sledding on our winding driveway.
After burying our precious cats...after having my heart broken...

Before many joys and sorrows, and after many laughs and tears... was my home.  It was my constant in between all the changes.  It was my refuge.  It was the door I opened on my way out into the world and it was the door I closed when I came back in to its comfort, safety and love.  No matter what changes were going on in my life, my family...was there. 
It was at this home that I learned how to throw a football...I waded in the creek...I collected rocks...I raked leaves...I stepped in raccoon poop...I raised 4 kittens...I enjoyed birthday parties and even 2 surprise parties...I had sleepovers...I walked on stilts...I had weeny roasts...I played school and house...I got punched and tickled by my big brother...I played video games (good 'old Texas Instruments--betcha never heard of that game system)...

It was at this home that I got my first puppy...I saw my precious Sophie dog take her first breath and her last...I turned countless cartwheels...I watched TV on our dial TV that only had 4 channels and when I wanted to change channels, I had to go outside and turn a huge antennae--No, I'm not kidding! 
It was at this home that I got bruised knees and scratched elbows...I celebrated Christmases and Birthdays...I searched for Easter eggs...I laughed...I cried...I learned tough lessons...I ate many meals at our kitchen table...I learned that friends were always welcome...I learned that family mattered most...

It was at this home that I learned that I was always welcome no matter how old I was...I announced our engagement...I spent the night there before our wedding night...I slept there many nights when our marriage was struggling...I announced that they were going to be blessed with their fourth grandchild...I saw my parents play with their grandkids...I would go there for help with my kids...I would go there for a nice homemade meal...

All of that is going to change.   Things will be different.  My parents will have a new home only three minutes away from us now which is such a blessing.  It will be great.  I know it will.  I know new memories will be created and a new home will be made. 
But it's still change. And change is scary.  Change means letting go.  In this case, change means letting go of my childhood home that I hold so dearly in my heart.
The bible says in Ecclesiastes 3 that "For everything there is a season.  A time for every activity under heaven."  It also says in verse 11 "For God has made everything beautiful for its own time." 
Change is a part of life.  The seasons homes kids change...I changes, but the good news is that amongst all the change around me, God never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  So instead of fearing the changes that are happening, I need to embrace them and trust God to show me the beauty He has for me through each change.  
Saying good-bye to my childhood home brings me sadness, but I find peace when I realize that God is really my True Home.  He goes wherever I go.  He is my Refuge.  God is there no matter what door I open or close.   
God is my home. 
Are you ready to let go of your fear of change?  Are you ready to trust God to be your Home no matter where you are and no matter what changes are taking place in your life right now? 
Lord, I give my fear of change to You today.  Fill my heart with gratitude for the home that You've given me to grow up in and more importantly, for the people and the precious memories that I've made in it.  Help me to embrace the change that comes with moving on...with moving forward...with opening new doors.  Help me to understand that no matter what changes go on around me, You never change.  You are the same.  You are with me wherever I go...whatever I do.  Father, shine Your light into my fear of change and allow me to walk boldly forward in confidence knowing that You are my home forever.  In Jesus' name.  Amen. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 29: Fear of the Unknown--Oh Those Dreaded Panic Attacks

When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying,
"Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." 
Matthew 14: 26-27
DAY 29:  Fear of the Unknown
I was rushed to the ER.  I was only in 4th grade, and I had my first panic attack.  Why?  Because I was so worried that I didn't know who my 5th grade teacher was going to be.
My 5th Grade School Picture
There was always some comfort in knowing who my teacher was going to be the next year.  There was always some comfort in knowing that my big brother had already had one of the teachers and at least knew the other one.  At that time, both of the 5th grade teachers were going to retire, so I had none of the comforts of going to the next grade. 
I loved my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Crawford, and I had enough anxiety about leaving her and going to the next grade the way it was, but when I had no idea who my next teacher was going to be...not a name...not a face...I knew nothing!  I panicked!  Was it going to be a man?  Was it going to be a woman?  Would they be nice?  Would they be strict?  Would they be young?  Would they be old?  Would they like me? 
My dear 4th Grade Teacher, Mrs. Crawford
It was just too much for a 4th grader's emotions to handle.  The fear of the unknown overwhelmed me.  I remember the night like it was yesterday...
I was sitting on the couch watching TV.  I was always thinking about who my teacher was going to be.  It was always in the back of my mind.  My breathing started to get a little faster...and chest started heart hurt...I started crying...I had no idea what was happening.  My breathing began to become so rapid that I couldn't talk...I thought I was going to die. 
My parents came running in.  I couldn't tell them anything except through my panicked breathing and crying..."I.............can't...............breathe!!!"
Mom grabbed a bucket in case I threw up and they rushed me to the ER.  Once we got there, the doctors took me back into a room, hooked me up to all kinds of monitors.  Once they were able to calm me down, they asked my parents to step out which made me start to panic again!  They were asking me all kinds of questions like "Are you afraid of your parents?"  "Do your parents hurt you in any way?"  They also checked my body for bruises and such. 
I remember being puzzled by those questions, answering "No", and then immediately requesting that they bring my parents back in there with me. 
It was officially a panic attack.  I know it's so silly to panic over not knowing who my teacher was going to be, but clearly I struggle with the fear of the unknown.  Sadly, this was not my last, but because it was my first, it is my most memorable.  I've had these panic attacks many other times throughout my life because of the fear of the unknown--gymnastic meets, traveling without my parents to France, struggling with infertility, having a C-Section, becoming a mom, and many more.    
The unknown...I can't stand it.  That's where faith comes in. 
I love when Jesus is walking on the water and the disciples were filled with fear.  Jesus tells them not to be afraid.  He reassures them to have courage and that He was there. 
The story continues...

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong  wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.  Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

I can totally relate to this.  I'm always questioning God...asking Him if He's there...asking if He's the One really asking me to do something (especially if I don't want to do it).  Then when He tells me to do something...when He asks me to step out of the boat into the unknown, I panic at the thought of it.  Even when He reassures me and tells me to come or follow Him, I still panic at the unknown.  Then, if there is any sign of resistance in my path...any kind of struggle...any kind of difficulty, I panic...I doubt...I fear.  Quickly, I lose faith and sink. 
And God ALWAYS says to me, "Why did you doubt me?"
I don't know, God.  Is it too much to ask that every single moment of my life is planned out for me to see?  Is it too much to ask that I know everything that is going to happen well in advance?  Is it too much to ask that you write things ahead of time in my planner?  Here, you can use this blue pen since I use green for myself and red for my husband and black for the whole family. 
As you can see, I'm a planner.  I like to know what's ahead of me.  I like to know what to expect, and when I don't, I'm filled with fear. 
God constantly reminds me that not knowing and still believing is what faith is all about!  On my wall in our kitchen, I have this scripture from Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." 
Faith has helped me fight off many recent panic attacks.  The more faith I have, the less I panic.  Honestly, it's still a battle, and I often have to remind myself to have less fear of the unknown and more faith in our known God!
Are you ready to let go of your fears of the unknown?  Are you ready to be filled with faith and step out into the boat of life? 
Lord, today, I give my fear of the unknown to You.  Father, I need Your faith because I doubt constantly.  I need Your wisdom and guidance in my life because I have no clue what I'm doing or where I'm going without You.  Help me to step out of the boat when You call on me.  Help me to have courage and know that You're there for me.  And when I sink...when I have fears...when I start to panic, I know You're always there to lift me up.  Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much.  Father, shine Your light into my fear of the unknown, and help me to walk forward in confidence and obedience with You!  In Jesus' name.  Amen. 
Note to the Reader:  By the way, 5th grade was awesome!  I really enjoyed having Mr. Ronan as my teacher. 
God is so good and so faithful.  There is really never any need to panic, right?  Praying for all of us who struggle with panic and anxiety especially when it comes to the unknown.  Praying that when we feel those feelings of panic come on, God will lift us up and fill us with faith!  We don't have to know everything...we only have to know God!

Start from the beginning of this 31 Day Writing Challenge: 
31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 28: Fear of Being a Bad Wife-The Problem Was Me

"Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.   It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.   Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance." 
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

 DAY 28:  Fear of Being a Bad Wife
Start from the beginning of this 31 Day Writing Challenge:  31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith 
We were hopeless.  We were as close to divorce as I care to admit.  I was done.  I did not want to be married anymore. 
There were a lot of things going on with our marriage at this time...things that both he and I were guilty of and take complete ownership for...things that were destructive.  There were unhealthy patterns set up during our dating life of disrespect and lack of trust...patterns that carried into our marriage causing a lot of pain and hurt. 

But, in reflecting back, I've realized that much of the problem was own own issues from my own fears of being a bad wife.  I could go on and on about the psychology behind it all as well as the lies that I used to tell myself..."I'm not good enough for him."..."If I leave him first then I won't have to go through the pain of him leaving me."  "Maybe if I leave him, then he'll beg for me to come back and I'll know he really does love me." 

All lies.  All games.  All fears.  Nothing but insecurities...nothing but immaturity...nothing but the feelings of being unworthy...nothing but the lack of trust...nothing but the lack of identity...nothing but fear. 

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 is obviously a very popular scripture read at weddings, so of course, I wanted it read at mine.  It's so beautiful, but if you don't know who you are...if you lack confidence...if you're insecure...if you feel unworthy...this verse can make you feel that you just don't meet any of the descriptions of love and make you live in fear that you are going to be a bad wife or even make you believe that you are a bad wife.

This is where I was for the first 8 years of our marriage.  Let's break it down...

"Love is patient."  I fell short.  I lost my patience all the time and got angry when he didn't do something I wanted him to do.  I had really high expectations for him but yet, I was able to do whatever...whenever.  

"Love is kind."  I fell short.  I was snippy and said so many things that didn't need to be said. 

"Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude."  I fell short.  I fell short.  I fell short.  I fell short.  I was jealous and didn't trust him at all.  I would say things that made me look like the better parent or the better spouse.  I looked down on him when he messed up and always made him feel that I could have done everything so much better.  During arguments, I always interrupted him when he was trying to talk, and I always thought that what I had to say was more important.
"Love does not demand its own way."  I fell short.  Um...I wore the pants all the time and even when something wasn't fair, I still demanded that I got my way. 
"Love is not irritable."  I fell short. (Does this actually apply for "that" time of the month too?  Really? Ok.)  Again...snippy.

"Love keeps no record of being wronged."  I fell short...BIG TIME!  I would throw things back in his face from when we were first dating.  Especially during an argument, I would drudge up things from the past that had nothing to do with the argument we were having just to make him look bad and take the focus off of me.

"Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out."  I fell short.  I would twist and turn every conversation or argument until I won even when I knew that he was right. 

"Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful..." I fell short.  I fell short.  I fell short.  I was always the first to give up.  I was always the first to lose faith in us as a couple and threaten divorce.  I felt hopeless and made him feel the same way. 

"Love endures through every circumstance."  I did do this.  Yay!  One thing.  I endured.  I endured the pain it took to admit my short-comings.  I endured the pain it took to face my flaws, my insecurities, my lack of worth, my fears. 

Even as I'm typing this, I'm realizing how horrible I must have been to live with.  Was I a bad wife?  Yes.  I can admit that now.  My husband was and is a saint to put up with me. 

I was the problem.  I can admit that too.  I was a struggling, insecure, and fearful woman.  Thank God for humbling me and allowing me to seek the help I needed for the sake of our marriage...for the sake of future blessings God had for us...for the sake of future kids God had for us. 

I am so grateful that my husband was so patient and gave me time to figure out who I was, and through lots of counseling and God's grace, I was able to find more of my identity...I was able to grow in confidence as a daughter of Christ...I was able to learn to love myself. Then, we were able to grow more as a couple. 

Do I still fall short today?  Do I still struggle with the fear of being a bad wife?  Yes.  Of course I do...I'm human.  But instead of this scripture making me feel condemned...instead of it making me feel like I'm a bad wife, it makes me feel that because I love God, because I love myself, I am now more capable of truly loving my husband.  I use this verse as a reminder of what love really looks like.  I hope you can see it too:

Is Patient.
Is Kind.
Is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Is not demanding my own way.
Is not irritable.
Does not keep records of being wronged.
Does not rejoice about injustice.
Rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Never gives up.
Never loses faith.
Is always hopeful.
Endures through every circumstance.

Neither one of us is perfect.  Both of us make mistakes.  But we are a team.  We have come a long way together (over 14 years), and we still have a long way to go, but we are standing by each other through every circumstance...with LOVE!

I love that we can go from eating at San
Francisco's finest restaurant to...

eating veggie dogs and drinking beer at an Oakland A's Game
on our 10th Anniversary trip to California.
Are you ready to give up your fears of being a bad wife?  Are you ready to love God and love yourself so you can love your husband?

Father, I give my fear of being a bad wife to You today.  Thank You for saving me from myself and opening up my heart to what true love really is and how love is supposed to behave.  I confess that I will fall short as Your daughter, but thank You for Your grace and forgiveness.  I confess that I will continue to fall short as a wife, but thank You for giving my husband grace and forgiveness.  Help us to see each other through new lenses each day.  Help us to be patient and kind.  Help us to walk together through this life uplifting, encouraging and loving each other.  Lord, shine Your light into my fear of being a bad wife and help me to walk forward in faith for the plans you have for me and my husband to grow and to prosper.  Fill us each day with Your love.  In Jesus' name.  Amen. 

To my husband:  Thank you for your patience and unconditional love.  You are the most unbelievable man alive for putting up with me for so long.  I appreciate that you understand that no one is perfect and that life is about growth.  Because you gave me the space to grow, I am a better, more confident, less fearful, and more loving wife and human being!  Thank you!  I love you!

 To read our full marriage journey:  Never Give Up...Keep Trying


Monday, October 27, 2014

All Moms Need to Do is Love

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13
* This post was originally part of a 31 Day Writing Challenge--31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith
DAY 27:  Fear of Being a Bad Mom

I hate my feet.  Why oh why couldn't I have gotten my mom's cute little feet?  Nope.  I had to get my dad's chunky toes, very wide, Barney Rubble feet. 
Oh well, thank God, though, that I did get my mom's compassionate heart, her ability to genuinely love others just where they're at, her sensitive spirit, and more.  Was she a perfect mom?  No.  Did she make mistakes?  Yes.  Do I focus on those mistakes?  No.  I just love her. 
I love her not because of any traits she gave me or didn't.  I love her not because she was the perfect mom.  I love her not because she never seemed to lose her temper.  I love her not because she bought me anything or didn't.  I love her not because she spent a lot of time with me or didn't.  I love her simply because she is my mom.  I love her...period.  And I know she loves me...period.
So why do I worry so much about being a bad mom?  Why do I worry that my kids will only remember the moments when I yell at them?  Why do I worry that my kids will only see my flaws?  Why do I worry that they will only get my bad traits and blame me for them later?  (Hopefully they won't get my stubbornness or my feet.)  :-)  Why do I worry that they will only remember me by how frustrated I get at them? 

Here's the truth.  My job as their mom is to love them no matter love them love them the way that they need to be loved.  Even when I make them and apologize.  Even when I them and ask forgiveness.  Even when I get frustrated at them and show them that no one is perfect.  Even when I feel that all my flaws are coming out all at once.  Love them and teach them to give grace.  Even when I'm busy and don't have a lot of time for them.  Love them and make time when I can. 
Simply put...all I can do, just as my mom did for me, is love them. 
I can't spend time worrying about being a bad mom.  I don't even have time to write this blog most days.  I don't even have time to go to the bathroom by myself.  But I always have time to make sure my kids know that I love them, and that's what I pray they remember the most! 
Are you ready to let go of your fears of being a bad mom?  Are you ready to ask God to fill your heart with love?
Lord, today, I give my fears of being a bad mom to You.  Lord, I know that I will make mistakes.  I know that I will never be a perfect mom, but I do know that you will use my mistakes and my imperfections to teach my kids about Your love, grace and mercy.  Lord, teach me that every day is a new day to start over with love.  Show me how to love each of my kids the way that they need to feel loved.  Lord, shine Your light into my fear of being a bad mom and fill me with faith that You love my children even more than I do.  Help me to walk forward in confidence knowing that, at the very least, my kids will always feel loved.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 26: Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone-Breaking the Fear Cycle

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13

DAY 26:  Fear of Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I locked my mom out of the car almost every day.  I did not want to go to school.  I hated it.  Why would I want to leave the comfort of my own home?  Why would I want to leave my mommy?  It was a daily struggle. 
Me and My brother on my first day of Kindergarten

I cried.  My mom got really upset at me.  When she got out of the car and walked around to the passenger side to get me out, that's when I did it...I locked the door.  She was standing outside of the school in her bathrobe and, in my memory, with curlers in her hair with a look on her face like I've never seen before.  She was knocking on the window trying not to make a scene.  I'm sure she was embarrassed.  I know I would have been. 

I don't know how she finally got me to open the door...I'm sure she must have threatened my very existence.    

Day after day our mornings were like this.  I dreaded it.  My mom dreaded it.  Eventually she talked me into getting out of the car by promising me that she would walk me into my classroom.  Then once she got me into the classroom, I didn't want her to leave.  I would scream, cry and hold on to her leg.  I can't imagine how difficult and frustrating this must have been for my mom.

One time, she walked me into the classroom, and I sat down at my desk.  She walked out.  I immediately got up to chase her and all of my classmates grabbed onto me trying to keep me in the classroom.  They didn't know who they were up against.  My brother had me trained quite well as a football player and I busted right through that defensive line! 

After I pushed and shoved all of my classmates out of my way, I chased my mom down the hallway screaming and crying.  She calmly turned around and bent down and gave me a hug.  That's all I needed.  Ahhh...Comfort. 

Me and My brother on the first day of first grade where the fear really kicked in!

Once I turned around and took steps away from the comfort of my mom and being home with her, I felt a lump in my throat and I wanted to turn around again and go after her...Fear! 

But I broke through that fear and kept walking.  I walked into my classroom that day on my own and after that, I didn't have any trouble going to school again.  Going to school became comfortable to me, and I actually started to enjoy myself.  Ahh...Comfort. 

But come second grade, I learned that school was one challenge to step out of my comfort zone after another.  Being a student didn't mean just sitting in class and learning.  It was also about participating and having to talk out loud and even worse--read out loud...Fear! 

I despised the round robin reading (for those who didn't experience that, it was a dreaded way of reading through a chapter in a book as a class.  The teachers would have us go up and down the rows taking turns reading aloud.  Except I was too busy trying to calculate which paragraph that I was going to be stuck reading that I didn't even pay any attention to what was being read.)  I was filled with fear and anxiety the closer it came to my turn to read aloud.  Did I know every word?  Was I going to mess up?  Should I just run out of the classroom?  It was agony reading aloud in class but I did it.  And soon reading aloud became comfortable.  Ahhh....Comfort.   

Then came 5th class!  I actually loved music class, and I loved singing with my classmates until my music teacher, Mrs. Westcott, thought it would be a great idea to have each student sing a solo in front of the class.  WHAT?  Fear, fear, and more fear! 

The thought of singing in front of the whole class...well...that just wasn't going to happen.  When it came to my turn, I froze.  I couldn't do it.  Nothing would come out of my mouth.  I just stared at her. 

Mrs. Westcott was so patient with me.  She just went on to the next student and then came back to me to give me another chance.  I still couldn't do it.  Seriously, nothing would come out.  I was frozen with fear.  She just went on to the next student and came back to me again.  This time, I got the tiniest little bit of my voice to work.  I remember my classmates leaning close to me straining to hear me.  Someone even said, "We can't hear you!"  I just kept singing in my teeny, tiny, almost inaudible little voice as quiet as I could.  But I did it.  To me, though my voice was small, the victory was big!

Soon, I began to become more and more comfortable singing aloud in class and I even sang a little solo at our end of the year concert not just in front of my classmates, but in front of all the parents too.  Comfort...fear...comfort...fear.
Yes, that's me with the crazy, curly hair!

My little solo

Even more unbelievable was once I got to high school, I actually participated in not just one, but two musicals!  I played Patty Simcox in "Grease".

 I also had the opportunity to play Nelly Forbush in "South Pacific".  I even sang solos in front of an entire gym of people. 
Such an amazing cast of ladies!

Such a hilarious cast of guys!
Me...the little girl who was too fearful to get out of the car...too fearful to go to school...too fearful to walk into class...too fearful to read aloud...too fearful to sing out loud...pushed through her fears and stepped out of her comfort zone time and time again.  And because of that, I was able to experience amazing opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise and meet some amazing people along the way.   

And now, even today, I still experience the comfort...fear...comfort...fear cycle.  Just when I start to feel comfortable, God pushes me forward into an area of discomfort and fact many times...of fear.  But because I trust God completely, I continue to step out of my comfort zone and push through the fear because of a little, I take that back...because of a big thing...called faith!

Do you need to face your fears of stepping out of your comfort zone?  Do you need to have more faith to do what God is calling you to do even if it scares you?
Today, I give my fears of stepping out of my comfort zone to You.  Father, without You, I can do nothing.  Through You, I can do all things.  Increase my faith to step out to do whatever You are calling me to do.  Give me what I need to follow You courageously.  Every time I find myself holding back, break through whatever is stopping me.  Crush my fears with Your Mighty Hand so I can live life full of amazing experiences and abundant joy!  Lord, shine Your light into my fears of stepping out of my comfort zone and fill me with faith to walk confidently forward following You, trusting You, and singing a song to You!  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Start from the beginning on this 31 Day Writing Challenge--31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith: