My study is fragrant with the heady scent of a candle burning brighter than my computer screen. The name attached to the candle is "Fearless." That's the reason I bought the candle in the first place. Its title inspired bravery, dissuading me from allowing fear to reign. I remember one of the first times in my life when I decided against fear. I'd just turned eight. My mother had purchased a skateboard for me. The wooden board had miniature purple feet painted on its shellacked surface. Initially, I didn't believe I'd be able to learn the skill of skateboarding. I'd seen boys in the neighborhood performing tricks on their boards, and these stunts looked too difficult for me. I decided to try. I fell again and again. However, there were brief times when I glided down sidewalks and felt the thrill of moving faster than I could run, when I experienced the exuberance of improving my skill. By summer's end in 1963, I'd accomplished my goal--I skated down the tallest hill on my street without falling, the neighborhood boys watching and gasping in surprise that I'd done it.
When I thought of this memory, I asked myself what helped me transcend the feelings of fear. I believe it was first a confident expectation that I'd eventually learn the skill. This positive mindset then provided the ability to transcend the fear of failure and and increased my confidence to practice each day, tolerating the messiness and uncertainty of learning something new.
Fast forward fifty-five years and very little has changed regarding the need for me to embrace fearlessness.
A few weeks ago, I learned that the format in which I usually publish my book projects is no longer available. I'd felt hopeful that I was in the home stretch with the manuscript. I had written the rough draft, made multiple changes to polish and correct mistakes, sent the pages off to the editor, then implemented his suggestions and revisions. I was ready to go to press. Then the major roadblock. I wanted to abandon the project. It felt too hard to go on. But I'd come so far. Soon after learning of the changes at the publishing company, I rummaged through my purse looking for my phone. The interior of my handbag was messy with pens and too many lipstick tubes, myriad lists. Out of curiosity, I unfolded a crinkled piece of paper I'd found in a zippered pouch. I'd enumerated some of the spiritual coping tools I believed I was getting better at practicing. I read:
I am getting more practice in embracing stillness, quietness and God's peace, especially when I feel anxious or afraid.
I am learning to practice "pressing in" when life feels too hard.
I am practicing, more and more, to receive good things from God--expecting His favor and grace in chaos or circumstances I wouldn't choose.
I am getting better at rejoicing in all things.
I am learning to be comforted by the Holy Spirit when life or people or relationships feel awkward and sticky. When I want to run.
I am getting practice in expecting empowerment from God, decreasing self-pity.
I am learning to increasingly live inside the goodness of God.
After perusing this list, I thought about my eight-year-old self deciding to walk away from fear. To choose the braver thing. To practice. To learn. To push forward. To eventually master the hill.
I will do the same now with the book project. I will keep practicing my spiritual coping tools. I will be a woman that goes to the shore each day, scanning the horizon knowing the ship of God's provision has set sail. It's just a matter of time before I unpack the bounty, not only to finish another book, but also to live in the confidence and expectation of His great strength.