Fighting Fear

While I was getting ready to post on my blog after a long hiatus, I was feeling nervous about putting myself out there for everyone to see.  You know that feeling when you post something on Facebook and hoping that you get comments and “likes” and nobody says anything?  I’m very bad at self-promotion, especially when it involves things from my head and heart.  But there is a fear that pops up that no one will read what I’ve written, regardless if I know it’s not true.

That fear can be crippling.  There is a point where you need to learn to step out of the shadows and learn how to not have fear rule your life.  To have the courage to lean in and be open with others.  Even if it scares the shit out of you.

A couple of years ago, I read a book by Brené Brown called Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.  Below is the Ted Talk that she gave.  It’s fantastic.

The book talks about how when we learn to step into that fear, the fear of not being known, and become vulnerable, that is when we can step out of that fear.  Once we embrace the messiness, the easier it is to step out of the shadows.  It’s not easy, and is a lifelong process.  I know that I’m still learning and I still have to remind myself that I’m worthy to be known.  Some days are definitely better than others, but ultimately I know that I am worthy to be known.

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“How are you?”

I answer the telephone and direct callers to different departments for my job.  The phrase I use when answering is ‘Good morning/afternoon, how may I direct your call?”  Most people just answer my question and I can direct them quickly and efficiently.  Occasionally, I get someone who asks me “How are you?”  To which I answer: “I’m doing well, thank you.  How may I direct your call?”  That way I can keep the calls flowing.  However, I sometimes get someone who asks me “How are you?” and then goes right on into their question.  Not even waiting for me to even respond.

It really made me think about how flippantly that this phrase is used and thrown out.  When someone asks “How are you?” and doesn’t even wait for your answer, it comes across as a cheap greeting.  I always wonder whey they even bothered asking, when they obviously don’t care.

Then there is the generic response of “Fine”, “Good” or “Well”.  I totally admit I use those terms when I don’t want to share with someone how I’m really doing.  Most people are shocked and feel uncomfortable when they ask “How are you?” and someone gives them more than a one word answer.  When they are being actually honest with how they really are doing.

However, I love it when a good friend asks, and waits for your response.  Wanting to truly know how you are doing.  And if you hesitate, not being afraid to gently dig and get to know the truth.  There is something amazing in someone wanting to know you and honestly wanting an answer to “How are you?”

13. “I’m Proud of You”

About a week ago, a friend of mine had posed the question of what your favorite words to hear were.  As I sat there pondering it, I knew I couldn’t put down “I love you,” even though I do love hearing those words.  Mine was “I’m proud of you.”

I was thinking on why they are my favorite words, and was realizing that growing up, it was one phrase I didn’t hear very often.  In fact, not only until last year, I remember my parents ever telling me that they were proud of me.  They showed it by allowing me to grow up and move out on my own.  Respecting that I was an adult and could make capable decisions.  However, there is something satisfying in hearing the words.

I long to be successful in life and to be affirmed.  I can be proud of myself for accomplishing goals, but hearing it from someone else can be very life giving.  We are meant to live in community.  To be in fellowship with one another.  Affirming each other so we can grow.

What are your favorite words to hear?

5. “Family”

“Family.”  What does this word conjure up for you?  Laughter?  Pain?  Joy?  Feelings of being known, or feeling forgotten?  We all know families aren’t perfect, they all have a skeleton in their closet somewhere (some more obvious than others).  This past year, I have been incredibly blessed to have a group of friends come into my life here in Seattle and have become “family” to me.  In the summer of 2007, I moved across country by myself, only knowing one person in this city.  It was one of the hardest things I had ever done, and I was incredibly lonely.  I joined a community group through my church and it has changed my life.  This group of people, who come from all walks of life, have become my “family”.  They have supported me, loved me, been there through shit in my life, and have taught me what it means to be part of a “family“.  They have come to know me so well, I can’t hide anything from them.  I’ve experienced some definite healing from scars of past relationships within this community.  And having formed these roots has helped me to grow.
Your blood relatives “have” (or are obligated) to love you because of a common background.  However, when a group of people choose to love and support you regardless of your background, it can be incredibly healing and full of amazing encouragement.  The biggest key is “choice”.  Having someone choose to love you is humbling.  It is a reflection of how God chooses to love us, no matter what.  I am so thankful for these people in my life, they have been such a blessing from God.

2. Being known

Have you ever had a friend who loves you and knows you so well, that even if you tried to hide something from them, they would call you out?  They know all your quirks, your likes, dislikes, and can sometimes even know what you’re thinking.  It’s an amazing, yet very scary experience being known so intimately and be loved so deeply by others.  I know I desire to be fully known, and I love it when someone knows me so well.  It can be freeing to be known that well, yet very difficult to hide anything.  This is a foreshadowing of my relationship with God.  God knows me better than I know myself.  Even when I‘m aware of this, I try and hide things all the time from Him.  Sometimes, I get so afraid that when he knows my crap, that he won’t love me anymore.  Which is totally a lie, and I have to constantly remind myself that God loves me no matter what.  No matter how hard I run and try to hide, God will always know me.  And, because I have some amazing, close relationships with others who love me unconditionally (which is amazing in and of itself), they show a glimpse of what it is like to be in close relationship with God.  Learning how to have deep relationships with others teaches me how to have a deep relationship with God.  In order to keep these deep friendships, I have to maintain them.  I make an effort to spend time with them, asking them questions, listening to them.  Unfortunately, I forget about the maintenance it takes to have a deep relationship with God.  I forget to spend time with him, and I know listening goes out the window sometimes when I come to Him and talk all about me.  God knew me before I was born!  He created me, and knows all my nuances.  I ultimately have to remember that no matter how alone I may feel, that I am loved and known intimately by the creator of the universe.

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, [a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.