Well if that title didn't grab your attention I don't know what will! We are fast-approaching the season of “goal-setting”. I appreciate the chance to do some reevaluation on my life, but! I also try and do this more frequently than once a year. And one practice that has been SO helpful is instead of only focusing on goals, is giving thought to my fears. (This TED talk by Tim Ferris will take you through the exercise)
Most of our fears are unfounded. And the best antidote to any of those is faith. So! Here are my latest ruminations re: the topic as told through me being irrational in social settings!
Let's get this party started!
I remember clear as day my first Stake Dance (PSA - stake dances are church dances. Can't go until you are 14-yrs-old. Kind of a Mormon rite of passage). If you didn’t know, I’m the oldest child in my family. My whole life has been doing things “first”. Generally speaking, this is not something that has bothered me. And! I love dancing, LOVE dancing. Love it. So - I wanted to go. But! My family had recently moved to the area and as one of the older people in my class - I knew absolutely no one that would be there. Well - I did know a couple people. There was the high school guy who had mooned me one day when I got off the bus and he was driving by with his friends. And a few girls a couple of years older than me who were definitely too cool to care about an eighth-grader.
My mother drove me by myself to the church building. You need to know - I love my mother dearly, but she is not one to coddle you in any way. We pulled up to the church parking lot and I literally started hyperventilating. The prospect of walking into that church building was causing a panic attack. Not sure what I was so afraid of - but I was scared stiff. I looked at my mom with wild eyes and told her I couldn’t go in there by myself. She had zero sympathy. She had just driven me there, so I was going to get out of the car and go to that dance. I held back tears and wallowed in my feeling of full-on abandonment as I trudged to the gym. I would love to tell you that I walked in there and magically life was amazing. Not true. I became the awkward clinger who drifted toward the older kids I knew and desperately tried to not stick out too much. You know I “had to get a drink” or “go to the bathroom” every time a slow song came on. All in all - not the worst experience of my life, but certainly not the best. Proud to report that I hung in there and kept going to church despite my hardships ;)
The positive result of all of this was that by the time all my friends turned 14, I had a few dances under my belt and was able to help them have a good time. Sometimes you have to be the first person to do something scary. And sometimes those big leaps of faith that you take don’t turn out well at first. And sometimes - you go through experiences just to be able to help the people around you. I eventually really hit my stride at stake dances (ha!) and I like to think that I was a catalyst in helping them be good experiences for other people. So much of the time, people need an example or a person to “give them permission” to not be afraid. It’s not always fun to be that person, but I promise it has merit.
NEXT! The last relationship I was in started somewhat inconspicuously. It was with a guy I went to church with (yay YSA wards!). I had bore my testimony and afterward he came up to say how much he enjoyed it (so classic). We talked about going paddle boarding that week because #pnw and he added me on Facebook that night. I kid you not we literally (in the literal definition of the word) messaged each other at the same time. Kismet amirite? This is where the fear comes in. That next week we went paddle boarding and hiking and I could tell I was starting to actually like this human. I had been in a relationship fairly recently and was maybe not quite ready to get back on the proverbial horse. But this guy was so nice! So nice in fact - that it literally made me nauseated. I called my sister one day to talk and she asked how things were going. I proceeded to tell her how he’d been doing so many kind things for me including taking me to the airport! ... and how it made me want to barf. She proceeded to tell me how I was an actual psycho and that I needed to "lean-in" to that barf-feeling and allow him to be nice to me. Let’s be real - this is not a normal reaction. What was really happening is I was terrified of getting my heart broken again (spoiler alert : I’m writing this as a single woman so that means that it happened :) ). However! I am so very grateful that I “leaned-in” to my fear. Grateful that I had faith in him as a human - that he had good intentions and was sincere. Faith in myself that I could handle being in a relationship. And faith in God that everything was going to work out like it was supposed to.
FINALLY! When I was young, I was terrified of the concept of eternity. When my Sunday School teachers would bring it up, or we’d talk about it in family home evening, or whatever the case may have been, I felt extreme anxiety. I remember one particular instance lying in bed and tears streaming down my face telling God that there was no way my brain could handle this anymore and that it physically hurt to think about.
So! With that I think the stage is set rather nicely for this next story. I had been dating a guy while living in Seattle and was pretty fond of this individual. He is a great human. There was going to be a meteor shower and we decided to go to a ski resort close by to watch it from the top of the mountains. As we rode the gondola up I had one of those moments in life when you are so completely happy and you know you are happy and it's extra enjoyable because of it (so meta). I wish I could accurately describe how insanely gorgeous it was up there. In that moment, I felt my humanity. Mount Rainier stood there looking us in the face and the Cascades surrounded us. The sun set and we set up to watch the stars. Not to make myself seem any more like a weirdo than I probably have, our conversation that night eventually turned to the spiritual and beyond that - eternity. I waited for that all too familiar fear to take my heart. And I waited. And it never came. I honestly don’t know if there was a place on this earth that could have made eternity seem more real to me and for the first time ever, I wasn’t afraid. The reason for this could be encapsulated in the scripture, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear," (1 John 4:18). I loved this person, truly, and that love took away an irrational fear that I had held my whole life. At that moment I wasn't focused on what will happen to me for the rest of my existence, what would happen to that relationship or anything else, I was focused on love. And that made all the difference.
We can be afraid of being a trailblazer, afraid of trying for something we want dearly only to face the same failure we have before and we can be afraid of the unknown. But in each of these situations, we have cause to have faith. There is so much beauty on the other side of fear. If you are having problems setting goals for the next year - try examining your fears.
Throw yourself at life. Things and people will disappoint you. Life will be hard. Things will not always go your way. But it will also be so beautiful. So much better than you could have ever imagined. Perfect and holy and yours.
The faith that you carry imbues a resilience in you. You can meet with disappoint, failure, grief, heartache because you know the end. You know God is on your side and all will be well.
Love you all too much! Best of luck in this New Year :)
ps - some good talks :)
Perfect Love Casteth out Fear by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Fear Not to Do Good by Henry B. Eyring
Your Potential, Your Privilege by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
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