My heart plummeted when I entered the room full of women and didn’t see anyone I knew. I had prayed on the drive in, adding just a respectable amount of pleading that I’d quickly spot a familiar face. It had been precisely 2.5 seconds, so either I should’ve defined “quickly” or mingled in a few pleas for patience.
Rather than flounder in awkwardness, I beelined to the coffee station, pulled out my smartphone and assumed the universal position for “Don’t mind me. I’m busy.” Surely, someone on Instagram was up to something fabulous.
There was a time in my life when walking into a crowded room afforded the opportunity for connection and kindness. I was the girl that would offer smiles and easy conversation. But then came broken friendships, a wounded heart, and heaps of unanswered questions over the how and why.
Wide spaces and new faces grew to evoke one emotion: fear.
This brand of fear doesn’t send shivers down your spine or cause you to cover your head. It’s far more subtle than that. This is the kind of fear that makes you doubt the resilience of a fragile heart. It convinces you it’s better to settle for safety than risk vulnerability. This fear tells you that ignoring God’s truth isn’t really disobedience, but just your own brand of protective wisdom.
Left unchecked, this fear will steal our faith.
Over the past year, God has been cultivating courage in my heart. Because He’s patient, kind, and endlessly gracious, He hasn’t shoved me head first into the deep and wide unknown. Rather, He’s allowed me time and space to heal. He’s brought tender kindnesses, blossoming friendships, and sweet reminders that He is for me – still, always.
God could have easily commanded, Do not be afraid. Instead, He whispered to me, I know you’re afraid, but believe in Me anyway.
There is only one fear that can erase all the rest: the fear of God.
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. (Philippians 2:12)
While God has no rival in authority or power, our fear of Him should be rooted in awe and wonder. This is a deep and abiding respect for a Father who loves us and prizes us too precious to be swallowed up by the cares of this world. He won’t stand by and allow us to grow stagnant and fearful in faith. While He know our weaknesses intimately, He claims us as His own and pursues us to deliver His strength.
It’s to this God that we say, Yes, I am afraid, but I will trust You more. I have been hurt, but I will love again. No, it isn’t easy, but still, I will obey.
Fear rises when we rely on our own strength. Courage arrives when we trust in God.
I stood in that coffee line, looking down and scrolling up, investing just enough of myself to keep from getting hurt. I’m here, Lord, and that’s something, isn’t it?
As if God Himself lifted my head, I saw the woman in front of me standing alone. If she was alone and I was alone, maybe we could be together?
I edged a step further and spoke around the lump in my throat.
Admittedly, my offering was all nervous humor delivered in rushed words and a heaved sigh, but she laughed, we chatted, and I survived to tell the tale. If God handed out ribbons, He would have pinned one to my chest that day. It would be pink and sparkly to mark the start of something beautiful.
Friends, we may have wounds and bruises in our past, but those heal much better than regret. The future may be unknown, but might we be women unwilling to let fear rob us of courageous faith in an almighty God.
We may be afraid, but let’s be brave anyway.