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.

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?

 

 

It’s Tough, but You Got This!

I have recently discovered that my mind is capable of taking me places that I do not want to go. More specifically, my mind has told me that things are tough and I am not going to  get through it. My thoughts have also said it’s going to take years for me to conquer the challenges before me. I have decided to challenge that voice that has put limitations on me. Is it going to be tough? Absolutely! Will I want to quit here and there? You know it! However, I am reminding myself that anything worth having is worth fighting for. I know it sounds cliche and you’ve heard it quoted a thousand times, but it is true. Take a second and reflect on your current obstacle. If you’re thinking – I wonder if Starbucks will be open when I get there or I really need to get this paper finished on time – you’re staying on the surface. No, I want you to think about that thing that has been a pain in the butt. Consider the thing that keeps you up all night running through scenarios and options in your mind. The thing that makes you anxious or want to (insert strong action) when it comes to mind. Yeah, that thing!

Do you have it in mind yet? I am in no rush, I can wait. (cues background music)

Now that you have it, read the next sentence slowly. It will not defeat you and you will get through it. If you don’t believe it for yourself, that’s fine because I will believe it for you! I have faith that it is going to work out and if you need to borrow or even take some of my faith for the journey, take it. Now, I am not saying that everything is going to work out the way you want it to, but I am saying that you’re going to get through it no matter the outcome. And getting through it doesn’t mean you’re not going to struggle with it, be indecisive at moments or cry about it. It is completely normal to deal with an array of emotions, maybe even some setbacks, when dealing with a serious situation. Getting through it just means that you have perspective. Perspective manifests in two ways: 1) you know that you’re going to make it to the end end and 2) you’re committed to learning from it.

It’s easier said than done, but try to learn the lesson from the struggle and not just the pain or frustration. If you want to grow as a person, I admonish you to ask yourself: Who was I when/before this started? What have I noticed about myself in this?  How do I want to be different at the end of this? I cannot guarantee that things will miraculously change as a result of focusing on those three questions, but I can tell you that perspective is more powerful tool and can drastically change how you go through situations.

Is it tough? Yes! But do you got this? (insert answer -hopefully it’s a yes)!

 

 

Agreement vs. Understanding

There is a big difference between agreememt and understanding. Thanks to the constitution, everyone has the right to not only believe what they believe, but say what they believe. It is this freedom that allows many of us to live in our truths. Maybe your truth is that you believe people should be kind to others, that women should be treated equal to men, or that this country is in need of a Savior to correct all the wrongs. It’s even possible you believe the opposite of everything that you just read. And in case you haven’t heard it before… that’s OK. Yep, I said it. It’s OK.

I have reached a point in my life where I seek to understand, not agree. I was invited to attend an interview for a position in someone else’s office. Being that we have a partnership and the new hire would work closely with my staff, I was invited to give my opinion of the candidate. Afterwards, we went around the table to talk through pros and cons, areas of strengths and areas of concern. I recognized that I was an outsider in this office and that my opinion was from where I was sitting-distant. However, in true Shae fashion, I provided my thoughts based on my observation.

Although many agreed with what I had to say, some did not. And for a second we went back and forth and it was evident we were frustrated with each other’s views. After the discussion was done, I went around the table to greet and embrace everyone, even the one I just had a disagreement with. We hugged and caught up on family happenings. You see, I did not have to agree with what she said to respect her. I recognize that just as I am entitled to my opinion, she is entitled to hers.  To an immature person, our friendly embrace and chatter would have seemed odd. Were they not just disagreeing? I know Shae, she’s mad and faking it, pretending as if she likes her. This could not be any farther from the truth.

God designed us to be different individuals. I can’t celebrate our differences one day and then hold it against you another. In this situation, and even more serious circumstances, I seek to understand, not agree and I hope that my conversation partner would do the same. Even if the truth hurts, it’s their truth. Even if the truth is a direct threat to my belief and values, it’s still their truth. And in some instances, even if their truth causes a divide between us, it’s still their truth.

So what do you do in these situations? Listen. The Bible tells us to be swift to hear and slow to speak. We win hearts and wars when we seek understanding over being right. We can’t force others to believe and think like we do. All we can do is pray. Pray for their understanding and yours. Pray that a compromise can be made, or you can agree to disagree and have peace with that. And as equally important, don’t deny who you are and what you believe because you think you stand alone.