Friday, January 7, 2011
Facing the Fear: The Prerequisite to Dream-Building
You have to take risks, he said. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.
Every day, God gives us the sun--and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Every day, we try to pretend that we haven't perceived that moment, that it doesn't exist--that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moments exists--a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.
Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest. Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams. Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments--but all of this is transitory; it leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.
Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won't suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when that person looks back--and at some point everyone looks back--she will hear her heart saying, "What have you done with the miracles that God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful. . . So this is your heritage: the certainty that you wasted your life."
Pitiful are the people who must realize this. Because when they are finally able to believe in miracles, their life's magic moments will have already passed.
(excerpt from By the River Piedra I Sat down and Wept, by Paulo Coehlo)
Nearly four years ago I read this novel and here is what I journaled the day I came upon that passage. "This is so descriptive of me. . . afraid. Afraid of launching out into new ministry, new dreams. And this pictures my ultimate fear; that I will reach old age, not having pursued and lived my dreams/God's calling. Only possessing the certainty that I wasted my life. God, give me courage and discernment. The latter to know what and where and how you desire we spend the rest of our life together. The former to go for it."
I look back and see the demanding nature of my insecurity then--wanting to know what, how, when, why, and where before making a move. Today--this season of my life--I can honestly say I'm going for it. And it feels pretty good. Really good, actually. I'm not suggesting that there's a new me and I now refer to myself as Braveheart; maybe Tentative Toes, which is to say that fear is still present, along with every other feeling contained on the universal feeling vocabulary list. But I'm going for it. We are going for it. My wife and I are leaving our predictable and secure careers and heading to Honduras for a three month trial-basis to serve the poor. We will be working with Mercy International, the mission base I have served on short-term mission trips the past 10 years. We will then return home and they will evaluate us and we them, and a decision will be made as to long-term relocation.
We will leave around the first of March. This has been years in the making, years in summoning the courage and trust to do this. Years of clinging to the false security of our comfort zone. But now we are going for it.
You have to take risks, he said.