Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Truth and Bravery

Over Memorial Day weekend, my family and I joined a group of wonderful people for a picnic.  While we were there, the topic of my phobia of animals came up.  I no longer hide behind my fear of rodents (specifically) and other animals.  In fact, sometimes I openly broadcast it, so as to avoid any incidents of me all but blacking out because of a chinchilla (true story!)  Anyways, as the banter continued about what animals would send me into a frenzy, one woman shared how she had to be the one who would capture the bats that would come into their home.  Her husband would tuck the covers all around himself in their bed, while she took a flyswatter to stun the bat and then release him back into the wild.
The entire time she was recounting her various escapades of bat conquering, I stared at her in amazement.  How did she do it?  How did she become so brave?  I felt like such a weak woman compared to her.  Honestly, I felt that all my fears that have paralyzed me for years made me feel incomplete.  I felt shame and I felt that my husband was shortchanged ending up with me as his wife.

Looking back at that reflection, I'm confronted by many truths.  First of all, I'm only judging myself.  I have no problem with that woman's husband being scared enough of bats that he wraps himself in a blanket.  I expect more of myself that I would ever expect of anyone else.  I'm not very kind to my sensitive spirit at times.  I've decided I'm going to work on that.

The other truth didn't hit me until just the other day.  I was explaining to an acquaintance about our summer schedule.  We are hosting back to back students---teenagers---from foreign countries.  When I share with her our summer plans, her eyes began to grow larger.  Her head shook back and forth, as if I was crazed and delusional.  And I recognized the open mouth stare---it was the stare I had given to the woman who was not afraid of bats.

The woman shaking her head at me was amazed that I would even considering doing such a thing.

The other truth I'm confronted with is that while full of trepidation in some areas, I'm fearless in others.  I know some people who struggle to even invite someone over for dinner---and here I am opening my home to people from foreign countries for weeks on end.  

I never realized that makes me brave.

But, it does.

I may not be able to see a rat without my heart racing, or touch a stray kitten...but I'm not afraid of putting my heart on the line and opening my home.  I am brave.  

And I'm not letting my fears define me anymore.  I'm learning to pet dogs, admire cats, and I even watched a chipmunk for a few minutes the other day---just because I knew it was good for me.  To top it off, I traveled to Wagon Trails park with Lydia's class the other day and I rode through herds of animals.  I did it bravely, happily---because I refuse to let my fears control me.

Here's some proof-----

The lesson behind all this is not for me to brag and tell you how I've conquered my fears.
No---the thing I want you to pull away is that God is working through me---even though I've limited myself for years.  He wants me---YOU---to enjoy life abundantly.  You do not have to live captive to your fears. 
I'm learning to let them go, step by step.  Each day, I wake up and I find myself challenging myself a little more.  I want YOU to experience that joy as well!

And I want you to remember, that no matter what you may be held back probably have something in your life that other people think you are incredibly brave for too! 

This week has been a very encouraging one for me---and I hope that you will be encouraged as well!