In the bible, we are told “do not be afraid” over 100 times. Yet, when you ask most people why they won’t try something new, many times it is because of fear.
Fear keeps us at bay from taking risks and changing the way we think- and changing our lives. Think back to the first time you took a risk. Was it riding a bike? Maybe driving a car for the first time- without a parent? Maybe it was trying out for the basketball team or even just saying hi to someone for the first time? Or was it moving in slowly for your first kiss? I know these seem like little things, but they are all building blocks. They give us the courage to take bigger risks as we get older and hopefully wiser.
My parents had a wall of mirrors at the bottom of the stairs in our house. It was one of those gold flecked 70’s mirrors that covered the entire wall. There was no escaping it as you walked down to start your day- you had to look at yourself. I’ll tell you there were many days I tried NOT to look in the mirror. I was to afraid of seeing things that I thought others might see in me. My perceived flaws were always the first thing to catch an awkward and shy high school girls eyes. Is my hair okay? Did I use enough Aqua Net to achieve the correct poof in my bangs?( it was the 80’s!) Is my outfit ok? Did I look too plain?
One day I came down those stairs, and instead of looking away I stood in front of it. It was risky. Didn’t know what flaw I might find, but on this day I didn’t look away. I looked at myself and asked why am I afraid? Why don’t I risk looking into the mirror and seeing what others see? So, instead of looking for flaws I risked looking for the good things. It kind of reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit with Stuart Smalley where he looks at himself in the mirror and says “Hey people like me!” because that’s what I did. I looked for all the reasons why I am worthy to be looked at by myself and others.
This small stepping stone of risk played a big part in helping me to not be afraid. Often I would remember looking in that mirror and thinking to myself- why not? People like me! Since then I have spoken in front on several large crowds and spent over 15 years in sales. These are not things you can easily do if your not willing to take a risk and sometimes fail.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells Peter to walk out on the water with him. Peter was asked by Jesus to risk drowning in order to be with him. Peter took that risk, against the harsh winds and walked out to join Jesus on the water. Did he falter- sure, he was human and we all falter. But imagine what would have happened if Peter hadn’t taken the risk and followed Jesus. What if he didn’t try to join him on the water? Don’t look back on your life and ask “what if”. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you. Pray about it and trust that God will ask you out onto the water when He knows you’re ready. Is it risky? Yes. Will you fall? Maybe. Is that ok? Definitely.
-Katie Van Gheem