Tuesday, September 4, 2012

do it afraid

Ten years ago this very week I got to watch my oldest son Isaac take his first steps.  

Considering we lived in two different countries at that point, it was great timing on his part. 

I was visiting our oldest Haitian kids during the adoption process. Isaac, Hope and I spent hours and hours in a hotel room. I was introducing him to Cheez-It crackers and other fine American cuisine when he stood up and showed me that without a ton of effort, he could stand and balance fairly well. 

He stood up against the wall of the room. After he stood he would look to me for applause as he wobbled and grinned - but no matter what I did to try to entice him to take a step, he stood in place. He was eleven months old and just as he is now, he was quite cautious.  

By the second day he stood with his back against the wall toying with the idea of stepping away from the wall that balanced him. He would take one step with one hand on the wall; he would laugh nervously at me while I motioned him to keep coming.  He'd put his arms up for balance and stand a couple of inches away from the wall. For hours a day we played that game. Over and over I'd tell him to try it.  Over and over he'd laugh and step back to rest his diapered butt on the wall. After a few days of coaxing and giggling and fear, he took his hand off the wall and took five unbalanced and uncoordinated steps into my arms.  

When he got to me he made the most peculiar laughing and crying combination sound.  He was so afraid to let go of the solid wall behind him, that when he found out he survived the risk he was both more afraid and more confident - at the exact same time.  

He trusted my arms but He didn't trust the process of getting to me very much. It took Isaac many hours to attempt the five steps from the wall into my arms a second time.  

He'd overcome his fear once, but subsequent attempts weren't less frightening.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  

Our youngest son Noah wrote about earthquakes a few days ago.

Well, I suppose technically he wrote about "eaethqakes" - which to me, sounds a lot like a delicious treat ... but I don't think he was talking about a cream-cheese filled breakfast cake sold in an Entemann's box.  

"We are very prepared", he tried to write, only it came out "prupard". 

As I ran a few miles around my neighborhood thinking about his confidence in our preparedness, I wondered, are we prupard?  What makes him think we are? For the love, NO we are not prupard! We are like Isaac stepping away from the wall the second time - we are simultaneously more confident and much more afraid.

                                         ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Most of us find ways to manage what we're fearful about, you do it and I do it. 

Sometimes our heads trick us into thinking that our previous tries and our previous success doesn't mean anything.  

Sometimes we forget that our Heavenly Papa stands nearby ready to help.

We conquer our fear, and then our fear conquers us. 

I am not afraid of another earthquake, until I am for a minute.

I am not afraid Troy will die someday in a scary hold-up, until I am.

I am not afraid of failing at my duties as a Mom and Wife  - until I am.

I am not afraid that my kids will someday have an accident here that cannot be treated, until I am.

I am not afraid of failure in my studies to become a midwife - until I am.

I am not afraid of facing incredible poverty that tears my heart out, frustrates me, and leaves me confused and screaming, "Where are you God?!?!"  - until I am.

So what do I do with all this fear? 

Truthfully, it lies quiet, dormant, and well managed most of the time ... except when it doesn't. 

I can talk sense to it. I can say things to it like "Fear is not of God." and "You've got this. You're doing fine. God is with you. You've done it before. You've got this!"

The fear can be pushed back, sometimes prayed away, other times ignored.... But on occasion the human, broken mess that is Tara Livesay cannot keep it all at bay. 

Not unlike Isaac, I trust the strength of my Father's arms but sometimes I don't trust the process of getting to Him. 

What then?

My friend Beth shared her favorite quote with me early in our friendship.  "Do it afraid", she said. 

Like Isaac on his second attempt to leave the solid safety of the wall, knowing too much and knowing too little, do it afraid.  

I've heard it said, "practice makes perfect".  I'm too much of a realist to believe that to be true in this instance. Practicing doing scary things doesn't really make me perfect at it. I'm still afraid sometimes. I don't know how to stop being afraid completely and consistently. I'm not finding 'perfection' as I continually practice facing both my rational and irrational fears. 

I only know that sometimes - I have to do it afraid. 

We all do.

Link: 2010 post about fear.


John Meadth said...

Thanks Tara. Not just a very honest and transparent blog but also full of wisdom and real world reality. Because we are only human (yet amazingly containing the very life of God) everything we do is tempered by our human limitations. Anyone who would tell me that their faith never fails out of fear I'd say - "Are you sure. Well praise God for where He has you but I'm not there yet." I don't trust in my ability to overcome fear - but I hope that I do trust in my God, Who is fearless and Who holds those future things I do sometimes fear in His hand.

Roger and Ginger said...

You spoke to my heart today. My husband and I are brand new missionaries here in Haiti. I turned 52 last week. I am a nurse and I am afraid too. Afraid my nursing skills are not enough to help the needs I see here. Afraid at 52 I am not strong enough physically to do what needs to be done. But I like what you said your friend told you. "Do it afraid" I have had many fears in my life but that quote has helped me through many of them. The Lord will guide and I have to trust that. Thank you for sharing your heart. It helps me and I know it does many others.

Mama D’s Dozen said...

Great post! Thanks so much for sharing. I am going to remind myself of this: "Do it afraid."

:) :) :)

Britney said...

"Do it afraid." I like that. I like that a lot.

Ashley said...

this was exactly what i needed to hear this morning. as a new mama with a 6 week old i have found myself in a place of heightened vulnerability and anxiety that i have not known before. i have been so convicted and praying much this morning about how to not constantly be afraid of this or that happening to him or whatever. obviously these things seem small compared to many of the things on your list- but the entrapment from a web of anxiety is just as crippling, regardless of the circumstance. thanks for this reminder and such an easy thing mantra to say over and over... do it afraid! :)

Mamita J said...

Excellent post! Thank you again.

Annie said...

Thanks for this today. We have to keep encouraging ourselves and each other in the Lord again and again. Because when I might be weak, you are strong that day. Or vice versa. That is why the words "Do not be afraid" appear in the bible 365 times. I think one for every day of the year! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Well said. Thank you.
Amy (TN)

Anne Dye said...

I am in the middle of facing done a few things that totally terrify me. I have a new motto, do it afraid. Thank you so much for writing this.

emily anne said...

Heart just stopped a sec and tears falling down my cheeks. If only...we Christ followers...would all do it afraid. Good work, T&T&kids. Praying for you.

Sandy said...

I loved these analogies. Thank you for expressing what we all face and manage and for reminding us that sometimes facing fear might just mean we "do it afraid".