I was laying in bed this morning thinking about the thirty-three year period in my life when I used to wake every morning without you Monkees to play with. I can’t really imagine it now, but it must have been awful. I’m so grateful for you. Husband and Sister are too, because I’m sure you can imagine that I was a lot for two people to field on their own. It seems kinder to divide responsibility for me among all 242 of you. Thanks for helping my caretakers.
On to the Monkee Business of the day.
If it’s not too exhausting, I’d like to amend our Monkee Motto. In 2009 we were “trying very hard not to be jerks.” I’d like to add a little something for 2010. I’d like us to ALSO start “trying very hard not to be afraid.”
So it would look a little something like this:
2009: Monkees try to be LOVING.
2010: Monkees try to be LOVING AND FEARLESS.
As always, when we get too tired, we will stop trying and read trash magazines and eat Cheetos. It is crucial to make back up plans.
Today my dear friend Jessica is going to tell you about her efforts to fear less. If I had to choose one friend with whom to be stranded on an island, I’d choose Jessica. Unless booze on the island was limited. Then I’d choose someone else. Jess and I met in college and since then, we have loved each other and tried to take care of one another. In college, that meant providing each other with endless Marlboro Lights. Today it means providing each other with encouragement and honesty while we try desperately to act like grown-ups, wives, and mommies and keep the faith. Jessica is special. She is funny and interesting and interested. She listens. She prays for her friends. She loves Jesus, Trent, Emme, Nate, her brother, her parents, her friends, and a glass of wine after an exhausting, beautiful day caring for all of them.
Monkees, meet …your Jess.
As others have mentioned, Glennon’s advice to me about writing this piece was this: don’t think too much; don’t try too hard; just tell your truth. She promised that the topic would come to me if I prayed about it and listened for God’s answer. Well friends, I struggled, because every time I got quiet enough to think about the blog and to let God do his thing, all that I could hear, taste, feel, and smell was FEAR. I mean seriously, write for Glennon?! In my mind, Momastery is sacred ground, and Glennon is the master groundskeeper. I knew I couldn’t say no, but to say yes made my pulse quicken and my head spin. A dear friend of mine (and fellow Monkee), summed it up best when she said, “writing for Glennon is like singing to Celine Dion or dancing for Baryshnikov”.
Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
So I sat with the idea and I waited for something marvelous and ground-breaking and Momastery-worthy to come to me. Ironically, the longer I sat and the quieter I became, the louder and uglier the fear became. This is ridiculous, I thought. You are not going for the Pulitzer Prize here. And your fellow Monkees are wonderful. They will not judge you, even if you can‘t build bonfires, write poetry, speak Tibetan, or organize a charity event. (Geesh, y‘all are a hard act to follow!). It is a BLOG, for Pete’s sake. But the truth is we all know that it is more than that. And the harder I tried to push the fear away, the stronger it made its presence known. Until it occurred to me that this fear, this thing that was holding me back from even wanting to accept Glennon‘s invitation, was exactly the thing I was suppose to write about.
So here, my friends, is my truth du jour.
The first time I remember fear affecting my life was at the age of 6 or 7. I was excelling in gymnastics and one day the coach approached my mother and me to discuss my moving on to the next level. He wanted me to begin competing and, although I would be the youngest girl on the team, he was confident I was up to the task. I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. Not because I didn’t love gymnastics and certainly not because I was fearful of the possibility of injury. No, my fear grew from a place of insecurity, pride and self-preservation. I was fearful that I might not prove to be as good of a gymnast as I had tricked the coach into believing I was. That I might not win. That I might want to quit but not know how to say so. That I might let people down.
That I might fail.
During my sophomore year in college, I had a similar experience when I felt a calling towards the study of medicine. The idea of taking on such a challenge terrified me and I tried to ignore it for as long as possible. As the window of opportunity to switch majors began to close, I decided that the least I could do was look into it by talking to the Dean of the department. When the day of our meeting finally came, I went off without telling anyone of my plan and remember the butterflies in my stomach as I entered the office. After a very brief discussion and review of my transcripts, the Dean stated rather unequivocally that I did not appear to be a candidate. To this day, I cannot tell you his reasons for saying so. I was a straight A student, had a passion for studying, and had all the means and support necessary to pursue a career in medicine. What I can tell you is that I experienced an enormous sense of relief as I walked out his office that day, for the simple fact that the decision had been made for me. That someone else had confirmed my fear that I might not be good enough or smart enough to be a doctor and that now, I didn’t have to find out on my own.
I could offer you numerous other examples of the ways in which fear has snaked its way into my life, but the point is this: when faced with a challenge that I perceive to be beyond my means, I fold. I rarely even try. I have become a master of choosing things that I am really good at and avoiding things that could potentially result in failure. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that failure was the enemy and was to be avoided at all cost. That risk-taking was for other people, even though I was left envious of their courage.
There has been a lot of talk on this blog of the state of our souls and the light that resides there. One of the most unfortunate consequences of fear is that it dims that light; contains it. It has also been my experience that a fearful, timid nature drives people away. As a general rule, people are not attracted to these qualities and so when they sense it in others they turn away, for fear it might be contagious.
My time in our “momastery” has reminded that living, TRUE living, involves a whole lot of risk and, yes, even failure. As I prayed and mediated on the writing of this piece, I tried to imagine what risk would look like now. I tried to image myself in those scenarios, those dreams, and those challenges that I have side-stepped for so many years. As you might imagine, my old friend Fear reared her ugly head almost immediately. But whereas three or four years ago I might have allowed Her to stop me there, I now have the impetus for change: my children. For as a mother, I want so much more for my kids. I want them to experience all that life has to offer without fear of failure. More importantly, I want them to feel secure enough in themselves to take risks on behalf of others. I must teach them this. I must show them this.
I believe God has called me to share this with you so that you might pray for me. That you might help me to transcend that which attempts to hold me back from living life more fully.
The key to overcoming fear, then, is total and complete trust in God. Trusting God is a refusal to give in to fear. It is a turning to God even in the darkest times and trusting Him to make things right. This trust comes from knowing God and knowing that He is good.
A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God and I am confident that we will be judged more by our efforts than by our failures. Certainly, Glennon has reminded us of this by offering herself and her life as a beautiful example of how to live faithfully and fearlessly. Her light remains bright as she continues to take risks on behalf of others. She is brave enough to be still when asked to be still and soar when she is asked to soar (and write frantically when she is asked to write frantically). I can only aspire to learn from her example and from all of you as we take this journey together.
Monkee see, Monkee do.
See, Monkees? I told you. She’s special.
If you get a chance, comment and tell us…
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
ps. first meeting of HC book club is tomorrow. we’ll discuss just courage by gary haugen. i think i’ve set itup so everyone can participate. no worries if you don’t have the book.
pps. if i had a dime for every time i’ve been compared to baryshnikov…….