Do you ever have those rare moments of clarity in the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Where a word from a friend or a chorus in a song hits you in such a way that causes you to do some serious self reflection?
This happened to me recently as I was driving around town running errands and listening to my pastor’s latest sermon titled Unmask Your Fear. Truthfully, even as I listened, my mind was preoccupied- lost in my own thoughts. But suddenly he said something that caught my attention and then I was laser focused. He stated that “Fear is False Expectations Appearing Real”. He went on to add that most of the fears and worries that our brains create, never come to pass. They are false.
And this hit home for me because my preoccupied mind (before being interrupted by this nugget of truth) was mulling over lots of “what-if’s” and worries. These weren’t even “what-ifs” or worries that were actual realities or something to concern myself with. It was me fretting over negative thoughts and my own imagination.
What about you???
Does your mind do this too? You over analyze situations, opportunities, decisions, conversations and relationships? You worry about what will or what could happen? You imagine bad situations and how you might deal with them if they happened? Do these worries or fears ever keep you nestled in the safe zone of life? Do they ever detract from your ability to rest at night? Do these worries keep you from taking risks or doing things outside your comfort zone? Do they prevent you from doing things that you feel you don’t have control over? Do these negative thoughts inhibit you from trying new things or diving into something you don’t know how to do?
This is a regular internal battle for me and this truth hit me hard. You see, I’m an optimist. I’m a half glass full kind of gal. A keep on the sunny side of life person. And that’s the person that everyone around me sees. It’s the person that they interact with. The Kim that listens to them, encourages them and helps them see the good in their situation.
And as I self reflected in the car that day, several things became crystal clear to me.
I’m missing life’s wonders while being preoccupied by life’s what if’s.
I’ve missed many life adventures because I’d rather stay safe in the realm of what I know.
But people who always play it safe never experience the joy, freedom or peace found in new adventures. They are confined by their mind’s own boundaries, limitations that are all deeply rooted in fear.
THE Ravine of death…
As a kid, I remember my friend had a deep creek bed that ran through it in her back yard. To my 10 year old imagination that ditch was a ravine- 6 feet wide and 10 feet deep even though it wasn’t even close. I can remember a time when we decided to go to the next street over by cutting through her backyard. To get there we all had to get across it.
Before I knew it all my friends were running full throttle toward the ravine and jumping over it effortlessly. In fact some kids even used a swing rope to gracefully fly through the air like Tarzan and land softly on the other side. But me? I had a good start, but then my brain kicked in while I was running toward that gapping crack in the earth. And when I reached the edge I stopped. I couldn’t do it. My brain told me it was impossible for me and that I would fall in and surely break my arm or leg.
And as I looked up from that advance before me, all my friends were running ahead, leaving me behind stuck in my fear, all alone. I couldn’t blame them. Their minds had no doubt they could get over it. And so they went on to the fun ahead and I. stayed. stuck.
Not much has changed…
Truthfully I’m 32 years old and not much has changed. I stay on the safe side of the ravine of life. I don’t take risks until risks come into my life without permission and then I have to deal with them. I regularly watch as my friends or colleagues run ahead and I get left stuck on the other side of my fears.
So my quest lately has been to call that fear out for what it is. To stop my thought life in its tracts, to pull back and say, “Why not?” Or push them out of my mind and say, “No that’s not the way this will play out.” To make the optimist on the outside take over the thought life on the inside.
It’s just fiction…
Lately my 4 year old has been learning about authors, illustrators and books in preschool. The other day he was watching a movie where the puppies talked to one another. As I was making some popcorn on the stove his little voice chimed in from the living room, “Mommy, dogs can’t talk in real life right? So this must be fiction?” And I replied, “Yes son, it’s very good that you can tell what’s real and what’s not real. You are correct- that is fiction.”
If my 4 year old can get it, so can I. Much of my worry is simply fiction. It’s not real life. If you are struggling with a similar battle, I encourage you today to remember that much of what you worry about will never even come to pass. So don’t waste another minute my friend… you have too much life to live for today.
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”