The year was 1994 and as a then 18 year old, I found myself traveling alone for the first time ever. It was quite an adventure for this country girl to leave her parents and all that was familiar, to literally fly across the country to live and work with people I had never met before.
I still remember the night before I was to leave having a sudden surge of fear and doubt. As it rushed into my mind and spirit I was unsure if I could really leave my family and friends for the next 10 months. I was the kind of a kid who had maybe been away from home a couple weeks at a time…max…but certainly not months! I still remember, as fear overtook my heart, sobbing into my mothers arms that I just could not do it! Why did I ever think I could? Was I crazy? Who in their right mind did such a thing? For me the fear of letting go at that moment and stepping out on my own was terrifying.
As the light streamed into my room the following morning I remember laying there in bed wrestling with the thought of leaving, and debating ever so briefly, of abandoning the whole idea and just staying firmly planted on Virginia soil.
Sure, I would have a lot of explaining to do and there would be flights to cancel and mission boards to inform but it could be done. Maybe it would be best just to stay home, to find a job and look towards college the next year…even if I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
However…in all of my fearful reasoning….there was one thing I could not escape. One thing that kept the fear, that was beginning to grip my heart, at bay…and that one thing was Jesus Christ himself. You see…I knew deep in my heart that God has called me to go. I had prayed about it and others had confirmed it as well…I knew I was to go….and yet, fear threatened to derail God’s call.
You know, that’s the funny thing about fear. It likes to creep in just at the point of decision. It’s how the enemy likes to work..quietly and undercover.
Because the one thing I have learned about fear is that it is not rational. It can not be explained away or reasoned with and fear itself can become so entrenched in our hearts and minds that we begin to operate out of fear instead of faith…even when we don’t know it. It’s subtle like that.
As I look back now, I see that I was a fearful teenager for many of my teen years and that I lived more out of fear than out of faith. It didn’t mean that God couldn’t get through, because he did on many occasions…. Obviously so, since here I was planning on flying alone to the West Coast to live with people I did not know.
But….. I also knew that there were opportunities in my short life, prior to going West, that I had let slip by because I was too afraid to walk through the door that God was opening. Fear of failure, fear of measuring up, fear of not belonging…and the list could go on and on.
But that morning I for once made a conscious choice that I was not going to be scared away from
It was like God helped me to plant my feet! To take a stand and say “NO” to the fear that wanted to envelop me. I had made a commitment and I was determined to follow through. If God was calling me to it, then he would see me through it...that I was sure of.
So on an early September morning I hugged my family goodbye and boarded a plane for the West Coast. Sitting in the plane, waiting for takeoff, I looked out my window and could see my Mom and Dad standing in the terminal searching the tiny plane windows for my face. As we caught a glimpse of each other we waved bravely to one another….for my parents it meant sending their youngest child and only daughter to waiting strangers…for me it meant stepping out on my own to embrace the unknown…to embrace the world!
Sitting there I felt nervous and yet excited at the possibility and the adventures that awaited me…I also felt a sense of victory for the small battle I had won against my own fear. It was a good feeling and one that gave me courage to step forward, certain that all would be fine now and that I could go back to being an indestructible 18 year old….because all 18 year olds are indestructible as you know.
As the plane took to the skies I had no idea that the battle I was about to encounter and face would radically change and challenge my young faith like never before…..
~To Be Continued in Part 2: My Journey From Fear to Fearless