Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fear of Failure

I have a ridiculous fear of failure. There. I said it. Aren't confession and acceptance the first steps to change? I first identified this fear two years ago when I was rejected from grad school. Up until that point, school was my kingdom. There was rarely a class I couldn't conquer or a test I couldn't master with a little hard work, good friends, and studying (although math gave me a run for my money on more than one occasion). But as much as I would fret over test results or grades, I rarely doubted that I would succeed in the end.

When I received that dreaded rejection letter in the mail, something snapped. My fear of failure stretched like a mile-wide valley, and I was about to plunge over the edge. Okay, I actually did plunge over the edge. It was more like a nosedive. My fear beat me. More than that, it paralyzed me. I grew angry and bitter, defensive to anyone who challenged me or touched a raw nerve in passing conversation. Not my best moments, and I wish I could take them back. But, I wouldn't change that season.

It took an act of failure to acknowledge my fear. My heart was wrapped in a wall thicker than Jericho's. But through people and circumstances, the Lord took a chisel, and piece by piece began to whittle away the stone. When my heart was once again exposed, I panicked. I had allowed a mentor to talk me into writing a book, a dream I had long nursed but denied reality. I began this wonderful, scary process of walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) It is much like Indian Jones staring out over a chasm and taking a step onto a bridge he can't see.

© The Last Crusade

Now, two years later, I daily acknowledge and commit my fear to the the One who has overcome the world. I remember that success as the world defines it is not always success as the Lord defines it. If I wish to be faithful, no matter the outcome, I must do as Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 "deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." I am still deathly afraid of failure. I am afraid that I misread the direction when the Lord closed all the doors, pointed to my computer screen, and said, "Write." I'm fearful that I'm making a mistake in starting book 2. But, I acknowledge that my faith is now bigger than my fear. My God is in control. He always has been. Regardless of whether either book ever sees publication, what He taught me through the journey was acknowledgement of His Lordship and His hand in the midst of the process. So, rejecting my fear of failure, I cling to this promise, "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." Psalm 138:8. With the Lord, I won't fail. He simply has better plans in mind.

What are you afraid of?

This post is linked with (In)courage

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Buried Treasure and Capt. Jack Sparrow

After 10 hours, my garage is finally clean. Sort of. The better word may be organized. As I helped my parents rearrange everything, we ran across buried treasure - my favorite children's book, a Russian Bible I got on a mission trip to Ukraine, old vases, Disney puzzles. The list goes on. I relived my childhood during those dirty hours. My favorite discovery was the silly string. Of course, since it was old, it needed to be thrown away, but it is so wasteful to throw something away when it still has stuff in it. So, like any responsible adult, I decided to use the rest of the can on my parents, which they really appreciated.

But, as I sifted through my buried treasure, I was struck both by how blessed I am and how much I need to give away. When I moved back home over a year ago, I left a lot of my belongings in boxes, thinking I would move within a few months when I found a job. If you've been reading for a while, you know the Lord had drastically different, way more amazing plans for me. Since my first book is finished, I took the opportunity to clean out those boxes before beginning book 2. I determined that I would get rid of everything I hadn't missed or needed to use in the past year. I was also convicted by how attached I can become to "stuff," especially that which has sentimental value. Even if I no longer use it, I have difficulty throwing it away because of the memories associated with it.

Matthew 6:19-21 says, ""Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I'm thankful my memories aren't bound by that which is temporal. I'm thankful that my actions and my life can count for something more. And, I hope when I die and people go through "my things" that they aren't discussing the memories associated with the material goods but the memories we made doing things that actually mattered, things of eternal significance. I can't help thinking about Pirates of the Caribbean  and the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow. When he is sent to the afterlife (which is really weird, by the way), no people are with him, only his ship and a box of what he treasured in his life. Captain Jack Sparrow was nothing without his ship and his treasure stored in that cave. Will my treasure be stored in eternal dwellings or man made inventions?

Where is your heart? What do you treasure?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Discovering the Courage of William Wallace

Imagine a massive group of people from different faiths, families, cultures, backgrounds, states, and countries. They have little in common, have never spoken, but they are united in their gathering. If you have ever attended a football game, then you understand this concept. During games in college, it didn't matter if I had never spoken to the person next to me. We were bonded and could celebrate every good play together because of our love for our school, our team. We were connected because of something bigger than ourselves.

I recently returned from a trip to Scotland. I knew a little of the history before I left, but history truly comes alive when you stand in the places where it was lived. My grandmother is Scottish, and my cousin and I made it our personal quest to discover the history of our clan, the Chisholms, while there. So, we visited the Culloden Battlefields. On these fields, the Scottish tribes united against the British to fight for freedom. Imagine William Wallace in Braveheart and you'll get the picture. The Scottish are very proud of their heritage, and this battlefield is a memorial to those who willingly fought and lost their lives. But here's the cool thing: The Scottish were pretty violent back in the day, and the tribes warred against one another. They could not get along. So, for them to unite under a common flag to fight against the British was a big deal.

A belief in freedom, in country, in a people group bound the Scottish tribes together and made them strong. In the same way, a belief in something bigger than ourselves bound a group of Dallas young adults together this past weekend and made them strong. We gained a new perspective and a new purpose.

Imagine if the Scottish tribes had never united. In Braveheart, one man made the difference. He inspired the masses, cooled tempers, and united enemies in a common cause - one more important than any individual. Over Labor Day, One Man also united a group of 700 twenty and thirty somethings. Many didn't know a soul before embarking on the trip to east Texas, but hearts were knit, friendships formed, and faith grown. I truly believe, this group of Dallas young adults have the potential to change their city. Why? Jesus Christ was the unifying bond. His message of love and salvation crosses cultures, beliefs, denominations, and controversy.

He is big enough to unify a group of strangers. His message changes hearts. This belief is stronger than the bond uniting ecstatic fans and deeper than the ties of Scottish blood. There is something that exists that is bigger than you and me. His name is Jesus and He is Healer, Father, Friend, Counselor, Comforter, Judge. And He loves you! When you choose to follow Him, you are immediately adopted into an eternal family. With Him, you will ultimately never lose. And you NEVER fight alone. The courage of William Wallace was rooted in his desire for freedom and his trust in the men fighting with him. Where does your courage lie? There is a Father and family waiting for you to join their team. Will you trust Him?

"Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common." Acts 4:32