Your advice to me last week about fear was so profound and helpful. Having been sick with the flu since Wednesday, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder your words, to let them go deep. Thank you!
With your help, I may have turned a corner. I am still afraid of public speaking. But I’m no longer in fear.
There’s a difference, I think. We can all name things that generally scare us—microphones and heights top my list. But having a fear is not nearly the same thing as letting a fear have you.
A few months ago, I got a new sponsor. When I finally confided in her about my growing terror, I expected her to prescribe a fear inventory (a helpful recovery tool, by the way), or maybe chide me for not trusting God.
Instead, she acted like my nervousness could be a good thing. “Great!” she said. “This gives you an opportunity to explore this fear and to practice facing it in advance. By the time May comes, you’ll be ready.”
Huh? This was an entirely new approach to me. I have always been taught that fear is bad, wrong, and something to be ashamed of. Fear should be resisted, repented of, denied, or transformed into faith.
But having permission to investigate my looming fear in the safety of the present has opened up new possibilities. For example, I found that saying aloud, “I’m scared,” like I did with you on Wednesday, saps some of fear’s power. It now seems quite possible that, as one of you suggested, my roaring lion in the street is really a toothless kitty.
You also reminded me that a significant portion of my fear is a symptom of a treatable condition called lack of confidence. And the solution is an amazing phenomenon called practice. Who’d have thunk!?
So this is my plan. I’ll take my publisher up on their offer to provide media coaching. I will practice in front of friends until I feel more comfortable. I may even seek help from a therapist who specializes in anxiety.
But there’s something else, too. I’m realizing that my biggest problem isn’t that I need more ammunition to fight my fear, it’s my stubborn belief that I can or should fix, control, manage, outwit, or otherwise conquer it.
I had to laugh when this finally occurred to me. Of course, I can’t beat fear any more than I can beat alcoholism! I should have known the most important answers wouldn’t involve winning, but losing. Not victory, but surrender.
Which leads me to ask, what if fear is part of the gift? What if fear is necessary in order to help me remember how to rely on God, not myself? What if fear is what some listener needs to hear in my voice—because she’s scared stiff herself?
Today I sense God asking me to do two things. Yes, I should pursue a plan of action to prepare as best I can for May. But at the same time, he’s inviting me to set my fear back down on his side of the table, where it belongs. (And for goodness sake, stop talking about it so much!)
So that’s what I’m doing here. This post marks the spot where I surrender to any outcome. Rather than convince myself that I’m going to do great, I’m ready to make peace with the idea that I might not.
And that will be okay, too.
P.S. Glennon Melton over at Momastery.com has a book coming out in April. To address her own fears, she’s come up with a motto: “Don’t worry about doing well… just do good.” Isn’t that perfect?