“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I thought about this quote today and realize the importance of ‘stepping out’ of my own comfort zone to insure that I keep growing. How easy it is to stay where I’m comfortable – no pressure – no expectations – no work. But on the flip side – no lesson learned – no real positive change – no opportunity to influence others by being unafraid to face things head on.
Last week I was asked by friend, radio host and local pastor, Doug Bursch to be on his radio show – “Live from Seattle”. I hesitated. I made excuses. Finally I could see that none of my excuses (one of them was that I teach in the afternoon when the show airs) were going to be enough – especially when a time slot was found that could accommodate me. The subject he was going to interview me on: Blogging and what God was speaking to me. Now before you judge my hesitations – just remember that I am the girl that has no problem singing you a song – or playing the piano at a recital for my students – can teach music in a theater class – but usually I don’t have to ‘talk’ much. I’ve never considered myself a speaker and in fact have turned down speaking engagements when we were in ministry over the years – because I didn’t feel qualified – or had anything to say – and was just plain terrified! So when Doug asked me to do this – I was pretty nervous – and that’s the understatement!
But excuses aside – I did it anyway – knowing it was probably good for me to be forced out of my comfort zone of sitting behind my desk and typing – sharing things from my heart in written form only – and to be open to a new vehicle that God was gently nudging me in – with a little help from a friend. And I’m happy and relieved to tell you that it was not as bad as I thought – I actually could think on my feet and share what needed to be shared – was not ‘tongue tied’ or really dumb – and the nervous feeling left me almost as soon as the interview started. With a lot of help from Doug :)
I got to thinking – how many things scare us? Prevent us from a great blessing and possibility for growth – all because we’re terrified of stepping out? How many things have I missed out on – just because I refused to learn something new – and do something that really terrified me? Like…talking on the radio? Maybe talking to someone that could really use a friend? Doing something with children that I didn’t feel qualified for? Teaching a class? Volunteering my time to an organization? Giving of myself? Living by example? Being misunderstood?
As I thought of this – I am very aware in my own life – that I have been the reason – I’ve been the one that is afraid – afraid to tackle the strange unknown. Because of this I know that I have also held myself back from doing great things for people – for my family and friends and most of all – God’s kingdom – all because of fear. There are several ‘fear buttons':
What if they don’t like me? They might not. Many that have known me through the years – don’t like me. I’ve managed to survive it and I’ve come to realize that not everyone will like me – and that has to be okay. But I won’t let that handicap me from being who I am – just because some don’t like me.
What if they reject me? Again – many have. Some of them that I considered good friends have rejected me – for whatever reasons of their own – walked away and have never spoken to me again. Rejection in the rawest form. But I’m still me – I’m still here – I didn’t die from the rejection. It hurt me – but I went on and found others who won’t play that game with me and don’t do that anymore. And I’m getting smarter – I’ve learned who they are – and those that are open to me and my influence are those that have won my friendship and trust.
What if I fail? Well – I’ve failed MANY times. I’m actually the ‘poster child’ for this. I can tell you how to do it and how to go down to that dark scary place – how to spiral out of control because of hurt, disappointed and frustration. But I also know that God is greater than any failure of mine – or any scrape I can get myself into – and that He is there – even in the deepest, darkest pit of self pity and pride. I know that it IS possible to dig yourself out – and begin again – because I have done it – not once – but many times. And what I find each time I fail is that His grace renews every morning – there’s enough to cover me and my mistakes. And the lessons learned from failing are invaluable and actually make me stronger and wiser. So failing doesn’t not scare me anymore. I can actually look failure in the face and say, ‘you don’t own me anymore’.
What if I can’t handle it? I’ve been there too. There are still days when I don’t feel as if I’m up to the task – and my daily schedule of teaching students can be a daunting task. There are days when I actually dread it. And I’ve had those bad teaching days where I don’t feel like I’ve connected with the student at all. I mean – a really bad day. The kind of day that makes me doubt my own education and experience – makes me want to give up entirely and ‘throw in the towel’. Then something will happen – an encouragement from a parent – an email and positive affirmation of some kind – and suddenly I remember why I do – what I do. And I know that I can handle it. And God has equipped me to handle it and to ‘bloom where I’m planted’.
Do those things above scare me? You bet. Everyday. More than once a day. But I also know that God will give me what I need for that day to accomplish what I’m supposed to. I can’t do it in my own strength – nor does He expect me to. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Proverbs 3:5,6:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
I want to challenge you today – do something that really scares you. It may be that very thing that propels you onto a new pathway of discovery and growth – a journey that embraces and influences others in ways you never dreamed of before. Do that one thing that has been holding you back – and keeping you from missing a blessing in your life. What is it? You are the only one that can answer that. Step out and do it – you won’t be alone – He will be by your side as your greatest source of strength and encouragement. Reach out and embrace that change in your life. That change may be the beginning of your finest hour. A scary step. The thing most feared – may be your biggest blessing.