“If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, His arm over us, His ear open to our prayer – His grace sufficient, His promise unchangeable.” – John Newton
This quote is a great reminder when we are trying to step out into the unknown and embrace our greatness. Fear can be paralyzing. It almost paralyzed me in trying to write this post!
I have spent my life afraid to be different. Many of my unique qualities and characteristics were a normal way of life for me at a young age. But the more I realized the things that were normal to me and flowed naturally for me were so different to everybody else, I immediately began to hide and shrink them.
I learned very quickly that different wasn’t good. It was best to fit in. Different brought on weird looks, awkward questions and hurtful remarks, ultimately translating into rejection. All I wanted was to be accepted. I wanted my height, size, braces, and positive mentality, among many other unique attributes about myself, to just be accepted. Unfortunately being such an impressionable pre-teen and teenager, I realized that who I was, was not enough. My peers and society taught me that. Even though my mother cherished my very existence and tried to constantly convince me that I had a special light inside of me, she was one against an entire society. My vote was swayed by the overwhelming majority.
So as I grew into my early twenties I lived in this belief, that I just was not enough. I became a people pleaser, because you see I had to please people in order to be accepted. I did what society deemed acceptable, by getting a job, going to school, and living the mundane life to keep up with the norm. I was totally unaware of living life with passion and purpose, it was all about acceptance for me. I had pushed all of my uniqueness aside for the sake of fitting in. I walked around for years in a state of forgetfulness, disconnect, and deep levels of fear. The fear came from the hurt I experienced as a child. Deep within, I remembered that when my differences and uniqueness shined, it hurt. I didn’t want to hurt again so I avoided…myself.
As I got into my mid and late twenties I started to wake up and see things for what they really were. I began to want more and more for my life. The normalcy had become stale. I needed something fresh and new, I just didn’t know what. It was like I was on a merry-go-round. I knew that if I stepped off the merry-go-round it would be something exciting and wonderful, but everytime I stretched my foot out to take that step off, I would yank it back out of fear. What if it didn’t go right? What if I got laughed at? What if it was just too different? So I would sit on the merry-go-round, watching different scenes of my ideal life leisurely pass by, as I continued to ride in a circle, never moving forward, simply staying stuck in place. I would get up, stick my foot out, even let my foot touch the ground at times, but still yank it back because I just wasn’t ready to take that leap.
Not only would I stay on this merry-go-round, I would complain about it. The seats were too hard, it wasn’t enough room to stretch my legs, and I didn’t even like the colors. The list was endless. Each day I would wake up and find something else I didn’t like. Not to mention, it made me dizzy from constantly going around in circles. What was this thing anyway? It seemed quite useless. Why is everyone so attracted to them? And look at hers. Hers is better than mine. At least she has cushions on her seats. But look at his, he doesn’t even keep his up. He has food wrappers and trash all over the place. What a mess! At least I keep mine a little cleaner.
I was a mess. Complaining about a life I didn’t want (instead of changing it), fueling my complaints with comparisons of others who seemed to have it all together, and then judging people when I got tired of beating up on myself so that I wouldn’t feel so bad about my own life. Never simply being grateful for the time and space I was in. Now I must admit, I am still working on these things. I’ve spent my life complaining, comparing, and judging, so it’s not going to stop overnight. But I am now constantly and consciously working on becoming a better person everyday. That starts with extreme gratefulness. I now thank God everyday for everything. There are countless reasons to be grateful (even when I’m not experiencing my ideals) and I become more and more aware of them everyday. Gratefulness brings amazing experiences. The simplest things have become the most amazing in my life…..But I’m getting off topic.
Back to the story…I am now learning I was born to be different and step off that merry-go-round (or get pushed off by a strong wind called “getting laid off” for example) to truly experience life. It’s taken me a long time to embrace that. I played into acceptance from others for so long because I thought it would bring me love and happiness….(I feel like breaking out into “Love and Happiness” by Al Green LOL. But again, I digress…)
I didn’t realize I already had all of those things. God IS love and He lives inside of me. God IS joy, once again, He lives inside of me. All I have to do is tap in to what already exists inside of me. God accepts me for who I am because He made me, and I AM enough! When I really take time out to marinate on that, I realize that no one else’s acceptance matters. That feels SO good. He took time out of His busy schedule to think of me. He thought of what I would look like and how my height would automatically give me the attention I was desperately seeking from others. He gave me the talent of writing so that when I felt so misunderstood by my over-emotional and over-reactive exterior, I could always sit down and express every aspect of how I’m feeling and what I’m learning so that it not only helps me to grow but allows me to successfully share with and bless others. He gave me a naturally positive and optimistic perspective of life because He knew that when I got finished riding around on that “normal” merry-go-round, I would gain the wisdom I needed to find the truth in “wishful thinking” and bring life to things like: the world really can be at peace instead of war, people really do have good deep down inside regardless of how ugly and wrong they may seem, and happiness really is attainable even when we don’t have all the material things we think we need. When we learn to stop conforming and accept the truth of who we are and begin to live in it, positivity can become the new normal.
Focusing on the grand scheme of things makes all negative feelings fall away. God made me look different, act different, and think different so that when I finally decided to own up to who I really am, I would have something different to say. I needed something different to say so that people would wake up from normalcy and see the life they were meant to lead. He made me different so I could make a difference.
Today I thank God for my unique qualities, talents and gifts. I am now learning to push past my fear and embrace the fact that God is with me every time I want to step out of the box and be different. And the best part of embracing uniqueness, living in my greatness and sharing it with others is that it’s not about me. It’s about the God in me. Allowing God to express uniquely through all of us is the true purpose of life. Remembering that helps to relieve the pressure and sustain humility. It also helps me continue to take leaps of faith and learn to live life excitedly, with passion and adventure.
It’s a brand new life that I’m excited to live! I am learning to live the BEST life God intended for me, which includes standing strong in my belief in God inside of me, protecting and guiding me. I now choose to stay aware of what’s most important in life, instead of getting caught up in small-minded thinking. We are all here to help, serve, bless and strengthen one another. We can’t possibly live our best lives remaining stuck in our comfort zones, hiding our beautifully unique features and never facing the challenges of the unknown. Just like the picture above says, replace fear of the unknown with curiosity. Let your curiosity fuel an exciting and beautiful life.
“I am the Lord your God, who holds your right hand, and I tell you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I will help you.’” – Isaiah 41:13
This piece was inspired by a journal given to me by my godmother. It is an Amazing Grace themed journal, in which each page is infused with inspirational quotes and scriptures. I absolutely love it, and often turn to it in my time of gratefulness or frustration. It helps to fuel my love for writing and inspiration. I am truly grateful.
Share your thoughts in the comments: What have you learned from overcoming fear and how has it changed you?
Peace, Love, & Courage,