Don’t Be Afraid

I spent the week with my parents. I love my parents, and I love to see them with my kids. I love that my mom comes and helps me clean (helps . . . yeah, right – she just does it all) and after all these years, she’ll do my laundry just because I suck at it.

Both of them are retired now, so I could see them a lot more, even though we are six states apart.

I asked my mom this week what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. It wasn’t a mean question; I was just wondering. We’d talked in my church about how “retirement” was not a Christ-like idea, and I was wondering what my mother thought about that.

She didn’t know. And when I offered up ideas, she had a list of excuses ready.

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I imagine she has the same feeling when she asks me why I haven’t moved back to Pennsylvania yet.

We laughed about that.

But most of the time, I have to ask myself that same question. What am I planning on doing for the rest of my life? As a Christian, I believe that life goes on after the physical body is dead. So I’ve not only got several more years (God willing) here on Earth, but I’ll have all of eternity.

While I’m here on Earth, I’ve decided to try to make the world a better place. It’s naive, and silly-sounding, and even cliche.

Part of that is really only because I’ve finally started waking up to possibilities. (Yes, it only took me 27 years to more fully realize some of them.) But part of it is not knowing where to go from here. And the other part is just that it’s hard to do something.

And so what is stopping me now? What is stopping my mother – one of my heroes – from doing something to make the world a better place?

Mostly fear.

I’ve thought long and hard about this. Fear has a really well-documented way of wrapping itself around our minds, binding our hearts in places we didn’t even know about before – similar to the feeling you get when you go to the gym after three weeks of eating Butterscotch Krimpets and watching TV. All of a sudden, you try to move, and there’s pain screaming at you, in full resistance mode.

I thought about this while on one of my groups on Facebook. There was a guy, let’s call him Jay, who was just posting all the time about how he felt terrible about this, terrible about that, how he (and by extension the rest of us) should be ashamed, and how the truth of matter XYZ was just unbearable to deal with and society has created all these problems. All of these things had been drilled into him by fear, a fear that he didn’t feel right or think right or wasn’t right.

When I finally called Jay out on it, he and his friends were upset. And deeply offended, they immediately began to be the offensive.

I had stayed in the Facebook group for a long time because it was a brainchild of a friend of mine. I really believed in my friend’s vision, and I wanted to see if I could make it better.

I found out that day, I couldn’t.

So I quit.

I’d been afraid to quit. But I did it, and I immediately felt relief. And not just relief, but bravery. I wasn’t giving up on my friend or his project. I was giving up on catering to my fear. Fearful I’d lose a beloved friendship, I’d stayed. Fear had convinced me that in staying, all our friendship had come down to was a Facebook group.

That’s silly. That’s not truth.

It is my hope that this day, you will not let fear cause you to stumble, nor to ignore possibilities, or to stop you from moving forward.

 

 

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