Our whole marriage, I’ve told my husband he lives in fear. In January, I felt God ask me to start looking at my own fear. I had a lot of pride. I am not a person who lets fear stop me from things or so I thought. So for the final year in my 20’s, I decided to be honest about where fear was holding me back. I’m six months in.
1. Reality Television
I didn’t expect a year without fear to lead me here. I still can’t believe this happened. More to come on the details of this, but I applied one night because James told me “I would be too scared.” I hadn’t even watched a full episode when I filled out the application. Our episode of Couples Come Dine with Me airs this month. More to come on “reality” television.
2. Public Speaking
A popular poll rated peoples’ fears as #1 public speaking and #2 death. Quite right. I don’t mind talking about research, but speaking about my faith journey and my inner most self?
3. Poking Elephants
You know those situations in your family and friend circles that everyone wants to pretend don’t exist? It is fear based. You fear what will happen, the whole system collapsing, people getting hurt, or people’s ugly coming out. Well guess what? Sometimes you need the boat to rock. If I am living without fear, I’m also living without mammoths in my living room.
4. Petting Snakes
I never would have eaten that apple because the second I saw that snake . . .
5. Open Arms
I make judgments about people all the time- whether they are crazy, dangerous, pretentious, too this or not enough that. They all stem from a fear of rejection. Whenever I sense that I would be too fearful to go meet someone, I now go do it. I’ve also admitted to prejudices that I’ve held.
If people could only see my actions, what would they say my beliefs were?
6. Imperfectly Imperfect
Fearing what people will think of the what your house looks like can interfere with making space for people who need it. My southern nature would have stopped me from having the neighbour over for tea when my kitchen looks like a bomb, but now, I let my guard down. People aren’t coming over to inspect my kitchen. (And if they are? I don’t know. Maybe watch the reality show? It is ALL in there.)
7. Standing up for Justice
I’ve been at the police station twice helping marginalised women seek justice. I think love has two sides: protecting innocent people, showing mercy, being kind, and helping is only half. The other side is dealing with evil.
It’s much safer to gather hurting people up and give them shelter. It’s a whole other thing to take down Goliath.
8. Speaking Out
A year without fear means speaking up, saying the truth- giving honest feedback motivated by love.
- Getting my teeth cleaned, the dentist was borderline violent. Instead of just sulking afterwards, I told her it was the worst experience I had ever had and asked for an apology. She had a rough
daylife, and the tension changed after I gave her an opportunity to share where her aggression was coming from. I accepted her apology, gave her a hug, then sent my husband in for his turn.
- When someone is smoking in the path on the school run, living without fear is asking them to consider others- and the person kindly agreeing to stop.
- When the food and service was diabolical in Windsor, it means telling the manager that making it right means dinner on the house-and promising a return second chance dinner in the future.
- It’s pointing out how the bra fitting clerk’s comments were inappropriate and telling the manager so it doesn’t happen to someone else.
- It’s asking teachers for an alternative assignment for your child and offering to create one when you feel it isn’t right. It’s the gratitude you feel when the teacher decides to modify the curriculum for the whole class.
- It was emailing a camp director research on punishments that shame children after your child tells you about one child being singled out. It’s collaborating on alternative strategies and hearing how the organisation has changed.
Living without fear isn’t being judgmental; it is pointing to a standard and asking people how you can help them meet it.
A year without fear means-
- Telling the boy (who is always in trouble) and his mum that he has the most generous heart- that I see him giving graciously things that are precious to him. That his kindness makes him a hero and seeing him be so proud of himself.
- It means seeing a stranger interact with her kids and stopping her to say how tender she communicates.
- It’s complimenting the guy at the movie theatre telling him he has done his job with joy and asking him if I can tell the manager, only to find out he is the manager– isn’t it nice when good people are at the top?
- It’s asking strangers how I can pray for them and buying them a small something that shows they are noticed.
- It’s giving a homeless ex-convict cash even though he imported cocaine into South America and ended up in the worst prison system in the world. It’s laughing until your cheeks hurt over the stories he tells and genuinely hoping to see him again.
- It is a “blind date” with a girl your husband met on a train who said she had no real connection and finding a new friend.
- It is unofficially fostering kids who need to be around “normal” family life because they have experienced violence or have siblings with really special needs or economic pressures or absent fathers. It’s being completely humbled when one of the kids asks her mum if she can call me “mom.”
A year without fear is assuming that love isn’t something I can run out of, so I don’t need to conserve it.
It’s all in the beginning stages, but my husband and I are asking some big questions about our lives assuming that we were both given unique gifts at specific times to help particular people. We are trying to dream without looking at what we lack. I’m writing a book and taking clients for photography as they come. I also realised that I am definitely a missionary in England. I want to bring light to some pretty dark corners of England, where loneliness breeds despair. I want to pursue people who won’t walk into church buildings, but need the church to walk into them. I’ve been sharing the hope that has transformed my life to anyone who will hear it. It all starts with love without limits. It starts with trusting that God takes away fear.