Several times in the last few days, I’ve come across variations on the theme of fear. I’m not talking about all the fear of bad things happening around us, at least not directly. I’m more talking about fear of trying new things, fear of failure, or fear of making a mistake. There seems to be an increase of those types of fears in the atmosphere. So, let’s talk about that a little, and then break that off, shall we?
I find it interesting, that so many of us have such an easy time imagining the worst that could happen. We can picture so clearly our ruined reputations and financial devastation if we were to fail at X, Y, or Z. I’ve heard over and over how terrifying a blank canvas, board, or white piece of paper can be. Writers talk about the terror of the blank page in their journal or screen on their computer or device. Wood workers become paralyzed with indecision about the right cuts to make on that beautiful piece of walnut, cherry, or oak…and let’s not even consider more expensive wood! And it goes on and on… I’m sure you can add many more examples to these few.
One day, I was staring at my blank paper awash in terror to pick up brush or pencil. What if I messed up and ruined it? All of a sudden, the thought crossed my mind, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Not what I imagine to be the worst, but the real worst; I somehow knew that’s what He was asking.
“Well,” I thought to myself, “the worst thing that could happen is that I paint something that is really bad.”
Okay, so what then?
“The paper is ruined and I’ve wasted time and paint.”
Have you, really?
“Well, not entirely, I could gesso over it and start again.”
Yes, you could, but what if you couldn’t?
“Then I would throw it away.”
And would the world end if you threw away a piece of paper?
“Well, no….now that you mention it, I do have other pieces of paper. And, I will have learned something that does’t work well. And, I’ve had fun in the process.”
I don’t really remember the exact dialogue, I doubt it was that extended…there’s something about God asking you a question that gets your brain working fast! But, I have used a very similar process to this many times in the past, and still do today. What is the really worst that could happen if I do X, Y, or Z? And, how likely is that really?
So often, we imagine the consequences of our actions to be much worse than they actually ever could be. Fear paralyzes us, and we refuse to step out and try anything new. We refuse to allow ourselves to even try because the imagined downfall is so great…
But, it’s all a lie.
My life will not be over if I ruin a painting. The painting’s life might be, but in all these years of painting, I can’t say that I’ve ever just had to throw one out. I’ve gessoed over some, I’ve cut some up in pieces, and I’ve collaged over many… And, do you know what? I’ve found that often times, those become my favorite pieces!
This is one example. Can you see the funky town in the background? That’s what I started with, and it was going nowhere fast. So, I gessoed over it, but instead of covering it completely, it only did so partially, and I kind of liked the look, so I just went on from there. I love it now.
The same holds true for bigger risks and adventures. Life does not end because we make a mistake. Some risks have a bigger impact, that’s true, but generally most people play it too safe. We don’t risk anything, or much of anything at all. We let fear win. We let fear tell us what would happen if…..
I want to challenge you, in whatever area this rings true for you, to sit down and seriously consider what the really worst things could be. Would you lose money? Time? Materials? If you’re concerned about your reputation or what people would think, ask yourself if anyone need know? No one had to know if I ruined a painting. It would have gone quietly into the trash and out to the dump with no one the wiser. But then, if they did know, would they really care? Maybe some would, but are their opinions really ones that matter?
Then, I want you to consider what would happen if you succeeded. If you take this leap, however large or small that might be, what would it look like to fly? To really, really succeed? Use that imagination to examine all of the possibilities of good that could come out of this.
There are some things for which the risks seriously outweigh the benefits. I’m not saying that the answer will always be to take the risk. But I do think that you will find, as I have, that most of the time the risk is not all that great, or there are ways that you can minimize the risks.
Have you ever wanted to learn how to paint? Buy a few paints, a brush or two, and something to paint on and try it (see note below). Do you have a great idea for a book? Get a notebook, or open a new document on the computer and write a few minutes each day. Do you want to learn how to bake? Get a cookbook, watch some youTube videos and give it a go! You get the idea.
What dream is it that you’ve always wanted to do? Is there something that you’ve always wanted to try? Do a web search and find out what is involved. Are there steps that you can take now? It’s okay to check it out and decide that it’s no longer your dream…it’s not okay to let fear rob you of the joy of pursuing that dream.
So, here’s a prayer that you can pray with me, and let’s get rid of that fear! Fill in the blanks however is appropriate for you and your situation. If you have several fears, then you can pray this prayer as many times as you like.
Father, I confess that I’ve let fear of ____ rob me of the dreams that you’ve placed in my heart. I repent for believing the lies that _____ would happen if I stepped out and pursued my dreams. I ask for your forgiveness, and I thank you that you are so quick to forgive me. I gather up all of these fears and I cast them to the cross of Jesus, revoking all of their rights to me forever. I place the blood of Jesus between all of them and me. I ask you Holy Spirit to come and breathe your courage and your hope into all those areas. Fill me with your love and power to do all that you created me to do. Please guide me and give me wisdom and divine connections to be able to go forward free of fear as I pursue the dreams in my heart. Thank you and amen!
Note: If painting is one of the things you’ve always wanted to try, check out my Intro to Mixed Media class.