It was almost exactly a year ago, those dark and cold hours that are the slippery ice bridge between one year and another, leaving behind one of the hardest years of my life and hoping for something better or at least different on the other side. Eager to push out of 2015, a year of great loss- losing my health, and subsequently my career, to a sudden onset of chronic illness, losing my dad just days before Christmas, struggles with my teenager- and stepping into the unknown of 2016, wondering what other things lay in wait, straining to see if things would be less frightening. I was deep asleep in a hotel room in Grass Valley, California in those dark and cold hours, preparing for the wedding of a family friend the next day when this slipped across my sleeping brain. The most vivid dream. Unlike any I had experienced before. The kind where all of your senses are lit up and you truly believe you’re really there.
I was sitting across the table from someone in a conference room in what felt like a job performance review. Stale smell of old coffee in the air, I could feel my hands on the table, my body in an uncomfortable chair, and the sense that I would rather not answer any questions. Across from me was my reviewer, all authority and confidence. I couldn’t see my companion’s face, or discern if I knew them or not, but there they sat. A pile of papers sat on the desk in front of me, covered with indistinct writing, blurry meanings.
“So, Kathleen,” began my companion, “what is it that’s holding you back from what you really want to do?”
I was taken aback. What? Such an odd question. I could feel the sweat on my palms and the waistband of my skirt feeling a bit too tight as I squirmed in the rigid metal chair, pantyhose cutting off my circulation. How do I even respond? How real was my dream-self willing to get? But subterfuge wasn’t part of the dream equation.
“Fear,” I choked out. “I’m just afraid.”
“Well,” replied my companion, pushing back from the table, “that’s not a good enough reason.”
And it was over.
I kept on sleeping. I woke the next morning with this experience burned on my brain. I NEVER remember my dreams unless they’re extra frightening, but nearly a year later this one still walks with me.
And it makes me wonder, how many of us are stuck and stunted because we’re afraid to move forward? How many dreams are set aside because it’s just to scary to step out, to risk? How many things are left unsaid? How many injustices are unchallenged because we are frozen in fear?
So many of things are addressed in a book I read recently, Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie. I waded into this book recently and encountered so much of what runs around my brain on the pages inside. I was taken aback at how this book offers so much wisdom, and has helped me on my journey through (if not past) the fear that freezes me. And maybe freezes you.
One thing I am learning through this hard process of my chronic illness is that my fear is often rooted in relying on my own ability rather than God’s sufficiency. I have learned over again I am not enough. But He is more than enough. I have found Holy Ground in this illness, and am learning to sit and listen, to rely and be restored. And to fix my eyes on him. And his power is made perfect in my weakness. In myself I can’t step out and do the thing that terrifies me, but in Him I can.
A year past that dreamy New Year’s Eve night I am still struggling against being afraid, allowing fear to scream “stop” when God is whispering “go.” But I am learning. I am learning to take of my shoes on the holy ground of my pain and fatigue and see those really bad days as God’s ongoing refinement of this broken vessel (Fear Fighting, page 33). I am learning that just because I’m afraid doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do the thing that’s scaring me. Which is why you’re reading this.
This is terrifying, putting my heart out there for all to see on a computer screen, publicly wrestling with the insecurity that looms behind the confidence I show (and sometimes even feel). Biggest insecurity? I think it’s common to all writers: What I have to say doesn’t matter, it’s all been said before by someone else who said it better. I’m totally fooling myself if I think I have what it takes to do this thing God is asking of me. And NO ONE reads what I write. Or maybe just 10 people.
But then, aren’t those 10 important? Yes! So very important. ONE is important to God, and therefore important to me. And again I am reminded: I don’t have to be good enough. Because He is more than enough. And He will make sure the one who needs to read what I share will read it.
I choose to fight fear as my God opens His way. Not the way to notoriety, but the way to serve Him. Not the way to a national platform, but the way to reach those who He would have me reach.
I will not fear obscurity, but embrace the path. I can’t, but He can.