The Comfort of Fear

The Comfort of Fear

Many times when we talk about fear, we focus on all the things fear keeps us from doing. We think about the times when we wanted to or needed to do something but was unable to follow through because fear gripped us and said it wasn’t going to turn out well/ you’re not qualified for that/ you don’t know what you’re doing, blah blah blah. For many years, I have allowed fear to stop me from doing things that I knew God put in my spirit to do but I was too concerned about what people would think of me. Thoughts like, will they like it? Will I be received well? Will they think differently of me? would plague my mind. I have come to the conclusion that it. does. not. matter.

What does matter is how I fulfill my destiny. It is important for me to share my journey with others to hopefully inspire them to seek refuge in their gifts and talents, whatever they may be. I was teased in college and was told that I was great at helping people develop a backbone. I encouraged others to challenge anyone who dared to deny their truth and attempted to diminish their value. I guess I am passionate about this because I remember a time when my backbone was none existent, when I was tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, every empty promise, every empty experience, and every time I was overlooked and undervalued. While I was reflecting on this tonight, I realized that I was resting in the comfort of my fear. 

I once heard someone say, “Well, I can’t fail if I don’t try and if I don’t have any goals.” This saddened me because I thought about how little this individual knew about the power they possessed. But when I realized that there is an even more desperate side of this quote, I wanted to weep. Not having goals is child’s play compared to having one and allowing fear to comfort you in a way that paralyzes you from ever coming out of hiding. Not only does fear hold back the one who wants to catapult forward, but it also anchors the individual who seeks refuge and security in all the wrong places. If you’re not careful, fear will convince you that it is better to you than your friends, family, lover, and your dreams. Some people are risk takers and many are not. For those who like to play it safe (like me), they often entertain fear because it gives the false impression that there is safety and security there. And you know what? To some extent, this is true because when you dare to venture out into unknown territory, you are going to face opposition, frustration, disappointment, and setbacks. 

Once I realized I was receiving comfort from fear AND it was something I did not ask for, I knew I had to get rid of it! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cloak myself in fear from time to time just to have some sense of peace from the world of unknowns. However, I know that there is something more out there, I can feel it and I know you can too. I know you feel the tug on your heart and in your spirit. No more I should’ve, I could’ve. Make the decision today that new territory and the unknown is where you want to seek comfort knowing that the Comforter has you as you go. You got this! How do I know? Because I got this too. 

I did that… and it still didn’t work out

There have been times when I went through tough situations and no matter the advice people gave me, things didn’t get any easier. Maybe you have experienced the same. Doesn’t it seem like everyone has advice for you? Some of the advice I received sounded like:

  • Hang in there, girl
  • It’s only going to make you stronger
  • God has a plan and He is going to work everything out
  • You just have to be confident in who you are and what you bring to the table

To take it a step further, I took all of the encouragement to heart. I reminded myself daily that God is sovereign and in control. I told myself that I am a winner and the head and not the tail! I told my situation that God was going to work it out. I even said that I just need to rest in the promises of God and that if He closed this door, it’s because He is going to open another one. I did it all!

But I was still hurt. I was still frustrated. I was still confused and uncomfortable. So, what do you do when you’ve given your all, did your best, made sacrifices, and played every play by the rules of the book and things still didn’t work out? The answer to that question is complex, yet simple. You wait and endure. Yeah, I know. How anti-climactic was that? I don’t have a miracle cure, a magic wand or wisdom beyond my years to share with you. All I can say is wait and endure it.

I do believe that the troubles and hardship that we experience is not going to last forever. I believe that the God I serve sent His son Jesus to die on the cross so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. There was a woman with an issue of blood that bled for 12 years. She was depleted of her strength and resources for 12 years, so why can’t I deal with this discomfort for a month? Instead of wallowing or drowning in your sorrow, consider, “What do I need to get from this”? There is ALWAYS a lesson in the storm, especially if you can focus on the sunshine that follows the raging wind in the moment.

Be blessed and be victorious.

Peace

There is often a misconception that peace means everything is going well. Peace is when the storm is raging, but the impact of it does not harm you as much as it could. Peace is not external, it is internal. It requires work. It involves you coming to the conclusion that no matter what is happening around you, you are going to shine as bright as you can. Is it easy? No. But is it possible? Absolutely.

Now I Know that I Know

There is a difference between establishing boundaries and guidelines to work within and being too rigid. Our boundaries are usually established due to our experiences, perceptions, values and beliefs and to some degree, our biases. These boundaries are intended to keep us safe and operating in what we believe to be our maximum potential. However, what happens when we encounter an individual or situations that threaten those boundaries? Is this a time to remain firm, or is it an opportunity to expand our mindset?

Since I am going to ask you to be honest and transparent, I will go first. I am a Christian, a Believer in Jesus Christ, and I do not agree with or condone the LGBTQ+ community preferences. My faith tells me this is an abomination to God; however, I am in conflict. As a Social Work (SW) student, I am consistently placed in positions where my beliefs, self-imposed laws and boundaries are challenged and stretched. Although I have not changed my beliefs concerning the LGBTQ+ community, I have softened my approach to them. I do not believe in or condone any physical, emotional, or mental aggressions towards the community. Instead, I have intentionally educated myself by taking a course, watching documentaries, reading books, blogs, and have received hours of training on their history, terminology, and how to address and engage in a non-judgmental manner. The most rewarding education has come through conversation. I am so grateful to those who have been patient and willing to let me ask questions and better understand their culture and community. Your acceptance of my ignorance was impressive and eye-opening. Due to these exposures, I have found myself engaging with the members in ways that I have not before. I was rigid in my thinking and recognized that I needed to expand.

I was reading my SW book one day and a question popped in my head- is it possible to be a social worker and exemplify -isms (racism, classism, ageism, colorism, etc.) at the same time? How can I purposefully and knowingly be a member of a community that promotes the safety of the most vulnerable populations and treat the same population poorly? It seemed like a contradiction. So I ventured out to educate myself. I needed to know more about the LGBTQ+ community so that I better understood what I was opposing. “… because the Bible said so” was no longer an excuse or a valid argument.

One of my SW professors said something that was so profound that I continue to chew on it. He said, “learning is when you can still believe what you believe knowing the information that contradicts it”. I usually pride myself on questioning everything, but was I really doing that? Was I really questioning EVERYTHING? No, I wasn’t. I spent time questioning only the things that I was comfortable with exploring, not the things that made me avoid eye contact and shift in my seat. I was not really expanding my learning as I assumed, instead I was reaffirming what I knew. I was open to learning only the things that were within my comfort zone. And that… that is not learning. I was a counterfeit.

I have decided that I am no longer going to blindly believe in anyone or anything because of tradition, generational values or because it sounded good on the radio. I am on a quest to reassess, reevaluate and relearn what I know so that I know that I KNOW! It may seem like this would shake my faith, but actually, it’s had the opposite effect. I am now more confident as a Believer because I have placed myself in vulnerable positions for my advancement. That’s what faith is all about, right?! Making yourself vulnerable and having faith in something that is bigger than you. I don’t just think I know, now I know that I know.

  1. Now, it’s your turn :-). Reflect on the questions below and enjoy the journey.
    What do you believe and why do you believe that? Who is the provider of this belief (i.e. family, yourself, mentor)?
  2. What are somethings you’re willing to relearn?
  3. What boundaries have you set that you recognize may need to be reassessed?
  4. When do you plan to start?

 

 

Decide to show up today!

 

Image result for quote on determination

The quote is self-explanatory. If you’re not happy with where you are, change it. Only you have the power to make decisions about your life. At one point in my life I would just dream about all the things I wanted to do. Then I started over analyzing things. I would “think it through” to the point I wouldn’t act on anything because I felt like I had more questions about my goals than answers. My aspirations didn’t scare me, I did. The final straw was when I was making too many excuses and was blaming other people for why I couldn’t move forward with my goals. Seriously? Why do we give other people so much power over our lives? Not anymore!

My life isn’t perfect, but I have decided that I am going to show up to the masterpiece everyday. I am committed to adding brush strokes of determination, grace, and umph until it becomes what I desire.

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. – Phil. 4:13

Five Quick Leadership Tips/ Reminders

I have been in a leadership role, and have followed others, for some years now. It amazes me how I still have different experiences almost daily. While driving home one night, I began to reflect and these five tips/ reminders came to me and I wanted to share.

1. Don’t be afraid to let your team shine. A leader is versatile, sometimes they lead in front, other times they lead in the back. At some point, leadership will require you to stand in the shadow and receive instruction from the leader at the moment. Be willing and be supportive; don’t power trip. There is no need to upstage anyone. If you’re effective in your leadership everyone already knows who you are.

2. Support your team member even when you do not agree. Every idea that will be carried out doesn’t have to be your idea. Give your team creative freedom and support them. Provide your thoughts and give feedback, but if a team member wants to go in a direction that is not your personal preference and it could be advantageous for the vision and mission at hand, give your blessing and let them run with it. If it is a success- great! If it fails- great! Don’t use it as a moment to reaffirm your position, instead encourage them through the process and coach them on what can be done differently next time.

3. Encourage and allow the team members to be themselves. You don’t need a bunch of yous. Your focus shouldn’t be on duplicating you, but building better individuals who are adequately equipped to fulfill their mission and assignment. Celebrate the diversity on your team and appreciate their strengths. Great leaders know how to properly apply their team’s strengths to the vision.

4. Provide timely feedback. Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to share it. This is particularly true in moments where your team is overwhelmed. Feedback should be timely and well thought out. Yes, you’re the leader, but that doesn’t mean you have freedom to say what you want. Feedback should be on time, not on your time.

5. Celebrate and give praise when warranted. Don’t hold back praise, especially when it is earned. When someone does something exceptional, tell them. If you’re apprehensive about giving others credit, your confidence in yourself may be more feeble than you think. True leaders celebrate their team’s accomplishments, especially when they posses a strength that is greater than your weakness.

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?

 

In preparation of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be best to share an article I wrote for the Purpose Drive Women Magazine. Whether you believe in the day of love or not, the article is still a good read. Learn about how you can take your relationship(s) to the next level by being more cognizant and articulating what the three words, “I love you” mean to you. Enjoy :).

What’s YOUR Definition of Love?