If you knew that no matter what, you couldn't fail, what would you do? Let's say that you somehow knew your next risk wouldn't end up a failure. What would you try?
Would you do something physically dangerous like skydiving? Or maybe something financially dangerous, like investing a large proportion of your savings in a new company's stock? What about something that's relationally dangerous, such as beginning a new friendship or romantic relationship?
Why is it that we don't do those things more easily or more often? It's because of fear!
Healthy and Unhealthy Fear
Some measure of fear is healthy; it keeps us from doing completely reckless and rather stupid things like touching hot burners on the stove, getting too close to wild predatory animals, or talking to complete strangers we encounter at night.
But if we're not careful, our fear can hold us back from some things that could turn out to be beneficial to us. It can keep us from making our dreams a reality because it whispers that we can't do it, that we might fail.
That's the kind of fear that I'm talking about-- the kind that steps on our dreams, holds us back, and tries to tie us to the past for fear of what the future might hold.
But what exactly do we fear?
The Things We Fear
We fear the unknown-- not knowing if we can make it, not knowing what the result is going to be, not knowing what the future holds. But that's no reason to not move forward!
The future's going to come anyway, whether we want it to or not. We're never going to know everything that's coming our way. And what is life, if not a great adventure? Some of the best things in life come to us only through risk and through trial and error. If we're too afraid to try, we might never know what we're capable of.
We might fear failure, but failing doesn't make us failures. It makes us human.
Everyone makes mistakes. Trying to avoid failure will only lead to playing it safe all our lives, which still doesn't eliminate the risk of failure, but has the added effect of keeping us from achieving our dreams.
Failure allows us to learn and grow in ways that playing it safe can never do. Sure, we'll make mistakes, and we'll maybe get a little dirty or hurt along the way, but we'll learn so much more about ourselves, about God, and about the world that it will be undoubtedly worth it!
Some of us fear of what others will think of our dreams, our art, or our work. We think that if we put something out there, and other people don't respond with exclamations of praise and accolades, that we will have failed, that our dreams will all of a sudden be less worthy.
But our value and the value of our dreams doesn't depend on others' ability to acknowledge them. We (and by extension, our dreams) are valuable because we are beloved children of God. Nothing can take that away from us!
What Would Letting Go of Fear Look Like?
What would you do if you weren't afraid? Imagine for a moment what your life would look like if you moved forward despite your uncertainty.
What have you always dreamed of doing? What if you did that thing? You'd probably learn from the experience, and I'm willing to be that you'd enjoy it, even if it doesn't necessarily become a raving success.
At the very least, you could stop wondering what would happen if you took the risk. You would know, and either be proud that you tried and succeeded, or proud that you risked it enough to fail, learn, and gain the ability to do better next time.
Imagine what would happen if you didn't hold yourself back. Maybe you'd fall, but maybe you'd find that you can fly! It's worth the risk, isn't it?
I think it is!
The Choice is Up to You!
When it comes down to it, what kind of life do you want to live? Do you want to live fearful, hesitant, and playing it safe?Or would you rather have a life that's abundant, maybe a little risky, and full of adventure? I know I want the risky, uncertain, adventurous option. And I hope you'll choose that one, too!
What kind of life do you want to live? What would you do if you weren't afraid? Will you try? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
And if you want to read more about figuring out what to do with your life and overcoming fear, check out my book Ready, Set...Now What? Discovering Your Identity, Gifts, and Purpose in the Real World!
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