Every few years or so, I start to panic. I get bored or I think my life isn’t exciting enough and so I seek out something to do that will “shake my life up,” as I put it, in my head. Of course, those life-shaking things I seek out are never good or healthy or uplifting (because healthy and uplifting things can't also be exciting, I guess? There's really no logic to this). It’s always something destructive, or, better put, self-destructive.
Well, a few years have passed since the last life-shaker I tried and so recently, I figured it was time for another. Fortunately, most of these attempts end in failure, as in God never quite lets me self-destruct the way I intend to. It usually ends in a bit of embarrassment, but nothing too serious. In the midst of my most recent failed attempt, I received the most convicting message from God: “You’re not bored. You’re not looking for excitement. You’re scared.” And I was.
This first year in New York has without question been one of the best years of my life. A few weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity to go to Stockholm, Sweden as a brand ambassador. Immediately after I returned, I interviewed one of the most amazing, impactful women in American history, Dr. Maya Angelou. And all of that rapid succession surreality must have been too much to handle, because I became almost paralyzed with fear. (I know. Serious first world problems.) Cue the retreat into the familiar, the comfortable self-destruction.
Because what does it mean that God has opened up so many doors I never dreamed of walking through–especially not at 27? What does it mean that some of my biggest dreams for myself have already been fulfilled and then some? What does it mean that God has increased my opportunities and brought me out of my limits and into His vision for my life? What does He want from me? Simply: to do great things in His name. What’s so scary about that?
“Our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate”—it’s that we’ll have to be responsible. Places we used to go, we can’t go there anymore. People we used to be comfortable hanging with, we can’t hang with anymore. Things we used to say and do, we can’t say and do anymore. We have to go higher, think deeper, try harder, do better. We have to change. And all of those things require us to live a life with our fear in-check.
So the next time you’re feeling the fear of success, ready to self-destruct by retreating to a comfortable, familiar life, here are 4 steps to check your deepest fear.
1) Acknowledge your fear. The first step to any recovery is always admitting, accepting, and acknowledging the problem. Countless times, I have uttered, “God, I am afraid!” That’s ok. News-flash: He already knows! He wants us to know it so we can start making some changes.
2) Acknowledge your God. One of the biggest changes you can make when trying to keep your fear in check is to remember who your God is. Yes, it’s easier to fall back into a familiar, complacent lifestyle; you know what is lurking behind the familiar corner: nothing. But when you understand that the God of the universe is on your side, what corner could you go around that God wouldn’t go around right beside you, in front of you and behind you? Acknowledge that with God leading you, there’s nothing you can encounter that you can’t overcome. And there’s nothing you can dream for yourself that He can’t out-dream for you—and bring into fruition. Walk boldly into a new life!
3) Start making cuts. When you’re ready to move forward into a new life of higher living and learning, you’re going to have to leave some things—and some people behind. We delude ourselves into thinking that the things that didn't work out in the past will somehow be different or better this time around if we keep at it. It won't. God closes certain doors in our lives for a reason. They're over. Time for us to cut our losses, and that means people, bad-news friends and family members, exes, old hangouts, and even websites. I used to spend several hours a day poring over gossip sites, procrastinating and feeding myself with nothing but negativity. God showed me this week I can't take that negativity with me to the new heights He's trying to take me to. Now, all of those sites I used to frequent, I have Google Chrome redirect them to a website with encouraging Bible scriptures on them through an extension called "Nanny for Chrome." It has been such a blessing already! Cut the junk out and move forward!
4) Fear the unlived life more than the comfortable one. We're always going to have fear in our lives. It is a human emotion. It can even be positive when it propels us into our destiny. So if we have to have fear something, why not fear the people you could've touched, the lives you could've changed? Fear what the world will be like if you don't become who God created you to be!
Brooke Obie writes the award-winning Christian blog DistrictDiva.com. With God's help, she's figuring it out, y'all.