About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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  1. Annie,

    What you write about here is something that resonates deeply with me. I’m beginning to see how our lives really are richer when we surrender our plan and our vision and instead choose willingness for His. The peace He gives is so worth the uncertainties.

    Rich blessings as you continue to trust Him.

  2. Annie, I love this! I am afraid of talking to people, so while I’m not sure I have anything big like Scotland that I’ve skipped out on, the numerous small things I don’t do probably add up to way more than that…it’s something I’m working on, but something I’ve lived with so long that the fear is engrained, not talking has become habit, and I have very little sense of social norms…

    • Girl, there have been big things like Scotland for me and small things like conversations. So I get exactly what you are saying! Keep going, friend. Don’t give up. Keep talking- you have great things to say!

  3. So much the same story, except mine has Japan. I didn’t go either for the same reason… scared of becoming one of the ‘old maids’ I’d seen out there. So, I stayed back home in New Zealand and eventually married a wonderful man who told me after we were married that he had planned on coming to Japan to the place where I would have been working. Should have trusted! Throughout our early years together I struggled with this huge guilt of having said “No’ to God. We decided to go to England to study and then go to Japan from there. I was willing to go anywhere to get rid of the guilt, though I did tell God that I’d prefer not to go back to the US or to Australia. You know what happened, right?! Yep, Plans got changed and we’ve been to both. I think I’ve learnt never to say never. He’s interested in a heart that says ‘Yes”!

    • Wow, Lynda. That’s hilarious. (And by “hilarious” I mean, “God seems to do that kind of stuff a lot”) πŸ™‚

      Thanks for sharing your story! So encouraging.

  4. As I’m about to turn 30, I’m realizing that I’ve overlooked things that would require some courage because I also thought that would mean pushing aside or halting the dream of getting married. And I’m still not married, so I’m deciding to move forward with the wild thoughts in the back of my head (and the “back-up life plan” as I call it of moving to Africa), knowing that God will bring about His purposes and any future husband exactly when HE wants, not according to my plans.

  5. Annie,

    Interesting story! I would love to visit Scotland some day–my mom’s homeland.

    What was somewhat scary for me at first was going to a maximum prison–with solitary confinement. I know what you are thinking…this was for a weekend mission trip with Kairos Ministries. We mimicked the Emmaus walk, similar to the one in Bible.

    it was scary the first time, but then I grew to love the weekends.

    Men went into prison daily and had devotions & talks, etc with inmates selected to be on walk. Women stayed at a nearby church & had devotions & cooked meals for inmantes & team members. At the end of the weekend we all go in the prison main room & get to visit with the inmates & hear their testimony about the weekend.
    Each inmate on walk gets a birthday cake made just for them and ALL prisoners even solitary confinement gets 1 dozen cookies.

  6. Oh, I can so relate to this!!! Thank you for posting. As someone who said “No” to moving to New York City to be a Christian journalist in favor of getting married just a few months later, I am one who looks back sometimes with a tiny shred of regret. I would never, EVER trade my life now…I am blessed to be married five years and we have a beautiful two year old…but I also STILL have that ache in me. I said no out of fear that I’d completely miss out on marriage and a family. Now, having chosen the latter, I still have a fear I missed out on something else I may never experience. Goes to show that it’s a matter of the heart and spirit, and the peace we come to in our choices. Not sure if there’s a right or wrong path because God is in them all, as long as we seek him first. Thanks for sharing and for your honesty!

    • Good word, Jamie. Thank you for that. I love your thoughts and I am sure, even if I get married some day, that there will be things I wish I would have done while I was single.

      Wish I could brainstorm that list now though…. πŸ™‚

  7. Thank you for sharing your story. Right now I am trying to figure out what God’s next dream for me is. I have been conservative in my comfort zone for a lot of my life yet, when I have listened to God, I have been blessed by the results. It’s hard knowing what my desires are compared to what God desires for me.

    • Jerri, I’m praying for you today, believing that God will show you exactly where to step next. Can’t wait to hear what His dreams for you include!

  8. I’m not a singlet, but this post still resonates with me. I have definitely been afraid that doing this or that will mean more or different than it really does. I think – and this is so embarrassing to admit – that I actually believe I can “outsmart” God and trick Him into doing what I want, if only I do those things that I know for sure will lead to what I want. Which is all ridiculous, since (duh.) I can’t outsmart God, I can’t trick Him, I can’t know for sure about anything, and on and on! Great post, Annie. Lots to think about here…

  9. What am I afraid of? I’m afraid of mistaking Gods signs, not those moments when we think it could be a sign because we are so desperate to hear from God but those “coincidences” that are so clear cut, no questions to ponder kinda signs that points us towards his direction. I’m afraid of those “what if I am wrong” kind of questions that we tend to ask ourselves when he wants us to step out in faith. I too, am afraid of missing out on another decade, scared to face those giants. I’m scared to share my story of these past five years for someone to tell me that maybe I have it all wrong, for all the things I thought I knew and heard from God to come crashing down, that’s what I am afraid of.

  10. Annie,
    When I started reading this… about 2 lines in…I knew it was you writing!
    Thanks love! You did amazing with this one!

    • I hear ya, Michelle. I know.

      Here’s the good thing about failure: it’s gonna happen. You can’t avoid it your whole life and really live. In fact, Seth Godin, a hero of mine, absolutely celebrates failure. He has pushed me to fail more than anyone and in that, he has pushed me to be brave.

      So go for it. And those 101 other things? Eh, forget ’em. πŸ™‚

  11. Like some of the others who commented, I turned down an internship at a Christian retreat center that I desperately wanted to be apart of since I was a teenager. This retreat center changed my life as a teenager for the better and it’s where my passion for Christ grew and was revived each year I went. I tried for a couple of years to be a counselor there, and finally, it would have all worked out to be a counselor for the summer and an intern for the fall/spring… however, I turned it down to get married sooner. At the same time I started applying for the internships, I met the man who is now my husband. Both of our lives were so focused and centered on God that when we met, we knew God wanted us to serve Him together. I had the difficult choice of being away from him (about 15 driving hours away) for a while year to be a counselor/intern at this retreat center, or get married.

    God worked it out for good, but there is still a part of me that is sad about missing what could have been… every time I see pictures or posts from this retreat center, I’m joyful that others are being mentored and inspired for Christ, but saddened that I’m not there to be apart of it.

    I’m not really even sure where I’m going with this… your post just reminded me of my experiences.

    • I love that… that you took time to tell us a story of how God’s best and God’s good can butt up against each other.

      Saying yes to anything means saying no to a lot of other things, doesn’t it?

  12. Hi,
    I’m married now, but my prince charming came many years after I wanted him to. (: I now look back and so regret the decisions I made (or didn’t make) and the fears I carried about always being single. (I was mostly afraid of being a “leader”, thinking if I showed giftedness there, I was destined to a life of singleness. Hogwash.) I know now that I couldn’t have messed up God’s plan to bring me together with my husband and I wish I would have more freely lived, led, and trusted. May God grace us each to walk boldly with Him, in faith.

  13. Thank you for writing about what I think is a normal part of singleness. And unfortunately I think that when you “go” (wherever that might be) there is the fear that you should have stayed. Sometimes trusting is difficult.

  14. I’m terrified of getting a job. I can’t say for sure why but everytime I think about doing it, the colour drains from my face and I get cold sweats. My husband works and provides well for us but someday, he may not be able to. Or he’ll want to retire. The financial future scares me so much..

  15. I had a professor teach once on being free to commit in light of consummation. If we truly believe this is not our home, we know that nothing here will be perfect– no job, no internship, no city, no husband. So when we recognize that truth we can respond by making bold choices rather than waiting on the next “better” thing (which I’m often tempted to do).

  16. Just curious Annie. You said “I was scared that moving to Scotland would mean I would never get married”…….

    Why did you think that?

    I’m British, by the way!!!!!!!!!!! Hence the curiosity πŸ˜‰

  17. Something that really rang my bell when I was single (and had just gotten my heart broken by a guy I was SURE was “the one”) was a verse in Acts (I believe) where it basically says (paraphrase here) “A married woman is concerned with her husband, but a single woman is concerned with the Lord” and that really got my attention. Being a single adult is a unique chapter in life, when one can focus ENTIRELY on God. After finding that verse I had the best time of singleness ever! My life as an adult didn’t start when I found a husband – it was already happening. πŸ™‚

    So what am I afraid of? Well, spiders, for one thing. πŸ™‚ Nothing sends me running and shrieking faster than a big hairy spider! *shudder* I know they play a huge role in the ecosystem and all, but did they have to be so freaky looking???

    I think mostly I’m afraid of missing what God has for me. But I’m also afraid of trying and failing, so I have a tendency to stick my head in the sand and hide from everything. Which is not healthy and I know it. So I’m really, really trying to overcome that.

  18. Wow Annie. What an amazing post. Brought back so many emotions. Waiting, hoping, fearing, longing…

    Recently I watched the newest Pride and Prejudice (again). That last scene… when Mr. Darcy walks through the field to the little bridge… it still makes my heart twitter-pate with happiness. Even though I’ve been happily married for 12 years!

    Why? Because that’s how I envision heaven. Me standing there, a little unsure, a little nervous… and Him, striding confidently across the meadow in the sunlight, smiling a “I know you’re there” kinda smile. Christ, coming to claim his bride.

    The King, lover of my soul, who created me. Who knows all the stuff I hide from everyone else. Seeing only the power of redemption glowing on my face.

    God put the longing for relationship connection in our female hearts. And as wonderful as our earthly husbands may be, they will never equal the intimacy that awaits us as we fully know and are fully known by Him in heaven.

    Single or married, we can replace the fear of loneliness (because married women can still feel lonely too!) with the joy of knowing that in Christ we have the perfect spouse and friend.

    He is our “dread warrior” (Jer 20:11) who fights and conquers all our fears. (If we allow him to.)

    Anyway, this makes my heart happy in the midst of my temptations to fear…I hope it serves you.

    Heather