The most paralyzing FEAR...
Before I move on from the topic of FEAR, I would be remised if I didn’t address one of the most paralyzing fears I think women face today:
Fear of what other’s think.
This is a fear that I have dealt with myself many times over the years. As a mom, there was a time I struggled with chasing schedules and club meetings and social agendas, all while trying to balance being a “good” mom and staying plugged in socially...heaven forbid, we miss something. This left me with no space to grow spiritually or even relax because the demands to “fit in” overshadowed every desire that was in me calling out to be filled.
After my divorce, I wrestled as a single woman, sometimes staying at home for fear of running into someone and having to answer dreaded questions. Holidays could be difficult because I felt alone and everyone knew it. I even feared my closet, and thought too much about what I wore, for fear that I’d run into someone I knew. I wanted everyone to think I was doing great, and therefore needed to look great. Or what if I ran into “him” or my friend from my small group that was constantly making sure our shoulders were covered.
I was also the woman in church who was crying on the inside but holding back my tears and putting on a “happy” face because I thought I needed to look perfectly put together. And though more than anything, I needed to surrender, I wouldn’t dare lift my hands, because what would they think.....She has really lost it now, right?
So much of my life was enslaved to what people would or did think of me. I remember vying for Miss Hospitality in 1994 and being so proud to call myself “conscientious” as the word that described me best. I cared so much about what others thought and the judges bought the lie too, because they handed the crown over. I was actually awarded for my insane obsession with people pleasing!
The desire to be what others expected was taking a toll on my soul and would later lead me to an identity crises.
I am having flashbacks to Julia Roberts in the “Runaway Bride” trying to decide how she likes her eggs. Like her, I had lived with other people’s perception in mind for so long it seemed natural. This awakening led me to a season of what I called hibernating.....sorting through my own “eggs.”
During this season, I found myself in Colorado at a Women’s Retreat tucked away under a tree reading. Suddenly, I was distracted by a woman who began to dance across the lawn. We were in a designated time of silence so no one spoke, but we were all watching her. At first, I thought she was a little strange until the dance became something beautiful and a longing within captivated my heart. In a moment, I shifted from questioning her to desiring to be her...she was not odd or strange, but FREE! I wanted to be free, but nagging in the back of my mind was the usual thought of: what would they say? I knew no one at this retreat, but I cared even still.
The next day, I grabbed the dancing woman’s silk fabric that she had dyed with her own hands and I danced and I danced. I tasted freedom, and I would never turn back to the captive I once was.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you. Psalm 63 2-5
I wonder how much of what you do or don’t do is because you feel led or desire versus what others think or expect of you? I believe this desire to be accepted and conform and to fit in invades our lives more than we even realize.
I believe far too many people go about life feeling secure in their eternity, but completely miss the Kingdom that is at hand. A Kingdom that offers real freedom. A freedom that comes with knowing Him!
I dare you to embrace the feeling of being uncomfortable! Go with the leading of your heart despite what anyone may think, because it may be the very thing that moves you into being FREE!
In His Wings,