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Afraid of Failure

I can feel the heat on my neck and hands as I reflect back on a specific day in high school, driving home in my un-air-conditioned car. I don’t remember the events leading to this moment or the days that followed, but there in that blue 1994 Bonneville I rededicated my life and my future to my Savior. I vowed to go anywhere and do anything that He required of me. I desired to be a servant, to obey what God asked and not what my human nature desired.

I believe that very prayer has taken me places and showed me beauty in unforeseen and unexpected ways. Yet, even though I know the great rewards of living my life by God’s desires and not my own, the days are countless that I have strayed and find myself on a different path — one that is easier, more clear and one that I control. Here I feel safe, even though the opposite is true. As Christians who know that life in Christ is best, how do we end up on our own paths, separated from Christ?

My answer: fear.

Here’s an example.

I love(d) to write. Some of my most delightful moments involve a clean sheet of paper and a good pen. This hobby first took shape in a tree fort where I clenched my pencil and scribbled out stories and poems about my cats, brothers and secret admirers. Here, in this place, I found peace and joy and freedom in writing. My passion has waxed and waned over time, but there has always been such pure happiness for me in spilling my thoughts onto paper.

The opportunity to write for Boundless was an extraordinary one. Blogging for Boundless would collide two of my greatest passions: writing and helping prepare young adults for marriage. I knew God had placed this opportunity in front of me for a reason and had even equipped me for the task at hand.

Then life happened: I got a real job, I moved, I got married, I’m in the process of trying to make new friends, and also find myself surrounded by extremely smart and educated people. A deep writer’s block set in. Four months — literally, four months. Each time I tried to write I would sit down and stare at my notebook, then retreat to a simpler task of cleaning, reading or wedding planning. The words weren’t coming, and unbeknownst to me at the time, I was crippled with fear.

I was afraid what I had to say wouldn’t be good enough, wise enough, researched enough, and consequently, would lead readers astray. I was afraid that my words would be seen as elementary and possibly even laughed at. I lost my desire to write, and consequently, my desire to help prepare young adults for marriage, simply because I was afraid.

Even in this small way, I’m not upholding that promise I made to God almost 10 years ago. If I said I would do what He asked, then I must obey.

Once we begin tasks relying on our own ability, fear is sure to follow. On our own, we are not good enough, and when we allow ourselves to live out of our own capacities, we leave no room for strength and power from the One who created these abilities to begin with. We fear because we do not know the One who is above us. We fear because we do not understand His power. We fear because we don’t trust our Creator. We fear because we have relied on our sinful selves. Now that is something to be afraid of.

Sometimes it may take being broken down and failing to see the reason for this failure is because we are trying to tackle life on our own. But why do that when we have the power of the Almighty ready and willing to take us on His wings?

What have you been holding back from? What was once a passion and desire in your life that you have run away from into the shelter of your own strength?

Mine was writing. In the last couple days I have found that my pen wasn’t moving because I was looking inside of me for inspiration, instead of toward God. No wonder I was afraid! I was trying to use this talent and outlet for the glory of myself, instead of the glory of the One who put this desire in me.

So to answer my question I began with: “As Christians who know that life in Christ is best, how do we end up on our own paths, separated from Christ?”

My revised answer: Along with fear, I believe pride plays a big role.

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