When I was faced with the decision to start this site, I felt paralyzed by fear for almost a year and a half. Fear of perceptions, fear of purpose... just a lot of fears. Figuratively, I may have been standing at the edge of a cliff facing doom, but in reality, I was sitting at a computer clicking and typing. There was never any present danger. (Well, besides going broke from all the unexpected expenses of getting it off the ground. Yeesh!) It felt like the world would stop if things didn't go the direction I wanted it to. That's when I asked myself, "Why am I so afraid?"
Fear has two sources: actual danger and hesitation because of the unknown.
So here I was, going back and forth about pursuing something that I enjoyed doing. I loved writing and have conversations about the 'tough stuff' (anything from love to finances to justice). I liked thinking of nontraditional ways to explain traditional content and I'm a bit of a techie so what would seem like a daunting task of managing a site and brand was actually appealing to me. Even with all these things working together, after thinking through and creating my platform to share what I loved doing, I was afraid to share it. It wasn't until recently I realized the root of my fear-- the unknown.
How cunning the mind is to trick us into misplacing our fears and hindering our natural and God-given talents. It's makes us think we are more 'fearfully' and less 'wonderfully' made than scripture implies. That we are not capable of being successful and faithful. Granted, it's not an easy feat. There are so many distractions that come with success (including the pursuit of it), but that's only if we look at it through any other lens than faith. What is success in Christ's eyes? Simple. Do you know Him? Are you making Him known?
Fear has two outcomes: love and 'not-love.'
Associated with the two root causes of fear are parallel outcomes. Oddly enough, we've been mislabeling one of these as 'fear' when it's really love! when we're faced with true, life-threatening (or spiritually destructive) danger we're feeling a form of love. This is why we have a protective instinct when it comes to our family and close friends. It's also why we avoid the risk of hurting ourselves. (It's okay to love yourself though.) It's also the reason we can pursue 'finding love' to no ends--fueled by the perceived (mental) danger of being alone, which can sometimes have a real impact on our mental well-being. All of these are not rooted in fear, but in love.
1 John 4:18 makes this very clear when its proclaims there is no fear in love. Even our 'fear' of the Lord is actually our overwhelming love and adoration for Him!
In opposition, not-love is the product of fear of the unknown. Initially, I labeled this as 'hate,' but realized that term wasn't inclusive enough. Not-love includes hate and all its cousin forms: disgust, dislike, being unappreciative, etc. Basically anything not rooted in love. We see its prevalence through racial tensions, but there are other many areas where not-love effects us personally. When we doubt our abilities, it's usually because of our fear of failing. Doubt is the poison that ruins success. We've lived under the guise that failure is a constant; an immutable force that must be accepted. That's far from the truth. In reality, failure is a variable. It's a temporary stage or experience intended to capsize our ambitions and make us abandon ship. When we submit to it, we feel defeated and frustrated, both of which fall under the category of not-love.
You Have a Choice
If you can't swim, then there's a real threat to your safety and you may very well drown if thrown into deep enough waters. But once you learn how to swim, you are equipped with what is needed to survive. You faced less with fear of present danger and more with fear of the unknown. If you stay consistent in evaluating where the sources of you fear come from, then you can take more calculated risks knowing you are we-ll equipped to conquer those challenges. You've recognized, trained and executed your own talents!
Now knowing these two cause and effect pairs, you've been empowered with a choice. You can choose the path of avoiding actual danger and experience the the benefits of protection and love or you can avoid 'the unknown' and miss incredible opportunities for growth and success. Be vigilant about identifying the root of your fears before making the decision to back down or press toward your goal.