For as long as I can remember, even from my childhood, I’ve admired those who live adventuresome lives. Those who would go to amazing places and do amazingly scary things. Of course, this included the traditional childhood heroes of policemen and firemen. Don’t fault me here for not including policewomen and women firefighters – they didn’t exist in huge numbers in the 1960s! To these, I added doctors, nurses and teachers. I remember when our city added paramedics (EMTs) to the fire department. They were double-heroes! Firemen AND doctors in this little girl’s eyes!
There was yet one additional class of heroes I had grown to love and admire: missionaries, the most noble of all my heroes. I was blessed to attend all my growing-up years a church that regularly had missionaries come visit and speak. Wow! They went to exotic, far-away places and spoke odd languages, meaning anything except English or Spanish. They lived in difficult circumstances with very little money and did the most amazing work of all: telling others about Jesus. I had a very romantic idea of missionary work and found myself wanting to be one when I grew up. Even though that desire would ebb and flow over the following decades, I don’t think it ever totally went away.
But ebb and flow it did. I was blessed to go to a Christian high school, but got caught up in so much of the silliness. Wanting to be liked by everyone. Wanting to be a straight “A” student, back when that was a desirable thing for all children. Wanting to have a cute boyfriend. It all boiled down to wanting to be well-regarded by others. That’s quite a tall order for someone who has always suffered with the inability to pay attention, whose thought process doesn’t fit the norm, who is an introvert, and who is socially inept. Fear began to take over my life: What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t get a good grade? What if I never have a boyfriend? What if no one invited me to the banquet? Remember, Christian high school in the 1970s; we had banquets, not proms. What if I can’t get into a good college? What if, what if, what if . . . Still, beneath it all, was the desire to one day be a missionary. But, what if I couldn’t learn a foreign language to fluency?
God had planted that desire in my heart, and He would work it out. I DID have a boyfriend! I met my husband the summer before my senior year in high school, and we got married the next summer! We’re still married more than 40 years later! We’ve served as home missionaries and now we’re serving as foreign missionaries! And we’re quite happy about it!
Now, the question becomes, what happened? At least for me, I decided to overcome my fear of just about everything and live boldly for God. But that didn’t happen overnight. It was a process. I had to recognize and identify those fears one by one, acknowledge them, and then choose to overcome them, with the help of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Does this mean I have no more fear at all? Not in the least. But it does mean I can choose, and usually do choose, to recognize, acknowledge, and then overcome those fears more and more of the time.
I would enjoy hearing from you too! Stories of how you’ve overcome fear. Scripture references you use. How you, personally, memorize scripture. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.