Let me tell you about fear.
When things are going wrong, or even somewhat poorly, my friends and I like to say that being a person is hard. Just in general some days. Life throws a lot at you, and sometimes you don’t know whether to take the hit or throw right back. We all have days where we can’t bring ourselves to do either and we just try to hang on until it’s over, no matter where you are, where you’ve come from or where you’re going. Being a person when the environment, the language, the people, the culture – everything – is brand new is also hard. Just in a different way. For me, being here, I’ve noticed that it’s more saturated with fear. Not fear of being robbed or getting lost. Not even fear of missing every opportunity or making the most of this experience. No, I’m afraid at a more basic human level than that.
I’m afraid that people will leave me. I’m afraid I’ll get to be too much for people and I’m afraid that I won’t be enough. I’m afraid that I’m not doing my best in my classes, and I’m afraid I’m not loving others as well as I’m able. I’m afraid of horror movies. I’m afraid of pigeons. I’m afraid of losing my keys and my phone. I’m afraid of being single. I’m afraid of being in a relationship. I’m afraid of how fast time flies by and I’m afraid of how slowly the seconds tick by. I’m afraid of pushing others away and I’m afraid of letting them get too close. I’m afraid of being vulnerable and I’m afraid of being rejected. I’m afraid of being alone and I’m afraid of being in a crowd. I’m afraid of being inconvenient, of being overbearing, of being a burden. I’m afraid of dragging others down, and I’m afraid of being too positive.
Fear is contradictory and paradoxical. It takes the best pieces of ourselves and skews them so that when look in the mirror, we let ourselves perceive only what we hear we should be instead of who we are. What the rest of the world says should be true about us instead of what God says is already true about us. My pastor once described fear as what I experience “when I cherish something, and monsters come after that thing, and I find myself as the only thing standing between the two.” I agree with that definition. But I also think that fear is deeply tied to how we see ourselves – that maybe what we cherish most are those best pieces of ourselves, the qualities and quirks God created us with that make us who we are, and that’s what satan likes to come after the most. So we turn to protecting ourselves from the perceptions of the world, whatever that takes and whatever that looks like.
There’s good news for that, because another quote of Randy’s that I loved was “a Christian is not someone who is never afraid, it’s someone who knows where to take their fear.” At the cross, my identity is not in how the world perceives me, or even how I perceive myself. It’s only in the fact that Christ thought I was worth dying for so that God could call me his daughter and I could be transformed, coming to see myself the way He sees me and the way He created me. That’s what I want to see when I look in the mirror. It’s going to take some time to change my way of thinking in getting there, but that’s where I want to be.
Because I’m not afraid to say what’s on my heart. I’m not afraid to be honest. I’m not afraid to call things like I see them. I’m not afraid to dream big. I’m not afraid to write. I’m not afraid to sing. I’m not afraid to be a leader or a teacher. I’m not afraid to stick up for myself. I’m not afraid to stay in my comfort zone, and I’m not afraid to try something new. I’m not afraid to trust people quickly, and I’m not afraid to love people deeply. I’m not afraid to laugh loudly and I’m not afraid to fall down. But sometimes, I am afraid to be exactly who God’s made me to be. And that’s something I never want to hold me back, so that’s something I’m going to have to get up every single day and leave at the cross. Because fear follows you, and if I let it, it’ll follow me all around Buenos Aires and back home. Above all else, I’m not afraid of how God plans to use this space and season to strip me of that spirit of fear.