Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When Fear Wins

"What would you do if you could do anything?" I asked a colleague who is currently discerning another vocational path.

"Anything?"

"Yep, anything."

And without so much as a pause, this colleague responded, "An elementary teacher in a self-contained classroom."

I've been asking that question to me and to others. What would you do if you recalled that part of you that could stand at the edge of creation and live your passion? What would you do if failure wasn't in the mix, because somehow what you would want to do might not seem "enough" to whoever matters? What would you do if you weren't afraid?

What I've found is that many, many of my friends are doing what they would want to do, albeit not exactly in the proportion they'd like to be living their fearlessness. I've listened to lots of, "I love being a priest, but I wish i could do more writing, painting, praying, or living instead of dealing with one more meeting." I've learned that many people find a way to do what they love, even if they can't get a salary for it, so bravo to them. I've also discovered many more people are letting fear slap them into submission.

Because that's why we stop ourselves from finding fabulous, from following our soul's desire, from really, honestly discerning. We're afraid. Maybe of failure, maybe of making a mistake or looking foolish, maybe of some impending disaster like if I quit my job as an attorney and go to seminary and this priest thing doesn't work out, what then?

Fear's a bitch, really. It winds its way around our hearts and minds and sounds far too logical. I can't do something because I'm considering my options (Jump, dammit, at some point, just jump, God implores us). It might not turn out well (Neither did my 80's perms, but I'm still laughing). What if it's the wrong decision (People bought Yugos and they are still among us to tell the tale). I have financial responsibilities, student loans, too much invested, never lived that far away from home. Dig around your mind - you've said them, too, when faced with a choice. Fear is ambivalence, that place where you just can't make a decision because, well, there are good arguments on both sides, so you just sit there, constantly mulling your options while life goes on. You just sit there, waiting for the right time and the right moment and the right words while fear smiles.

We don't like to admit we're afraid, but we all are, and God's right there with us in our fear, urging us to hope, to dream our dreams, to try something new, and to put our heart into what makes us whole.

So, what would you do if you could do anything? And what part of fear is stopping you?

4 comments:

DavidJustinLynch said...

This really hit home for me. I am a lawyer in Palm Springs, CA discerning whether I want to become a bivocational lawyer-priest (and convincing our bishop that such is viable ministry for me and for the Church). You can learn more about me at www.attorneylynch.com.

Mrs. M said...

I love this. Thank you.

I was a postulant, resigned about a year ago, am discerning where to go from here. Love your blog.

Laurie and Mary said...

You are both in our prayers.

Laurie and Mary said...

And the acquaintance in the post isn't a teacher, yet, either. So it's a slow journey.