My Story in Three Acts - Act II: Starting Over
I hope you’ve had the chance to be curious about your fears over the last several weeks and that it’s been a helpful process.
As I continue to share my story, my desire is still that you might feel seen and heard and be emboldened to summon the courage to go where God is calling, to be and do what He has called you to be and do.
So, last time I shared about my fears of letting go of my life in Leamington, of changing all that was familiar and secure in my life. In addition to these fears, another set of fears were looming over me. What would it mean to not only let go, but start over in an entirely new place?
If you’re thinking about coming to SBC and wonder if you’re the only one who’s terrified at the unknowns of college, you are definitely not! Maybe you can resonate with these fears.
1. Fear of being alone and lonely.
Loneliness is one of the feelings I dread the most, and the threat of it was daunting. By going to SBC, I would have no guarantee that I wouldn’t be lonely.
I could still call my family and friends back home for support, but they weren’t there. I would have to go through the stress and social anxiety of meeting new people and figuring out college all on my own. What if I would go to SBC for 8 months and not make a single friend?
2. Fear of Being Unworthy/Not Belonging
Before coming to SBC, one notion I had was that the people who went there were nigh-perfect, spiritually mature Christians with no serious flaws (if any at all). And then, as I looked at myself, a cold realization came over me.
I would not fit in. I would not belong there.
It was a BIBLE COLLEGE after all. This is where the Christians went that were so serious about their faith that they really had no struggles or doubts or flaws. The halls, dorms, and classrooms would be filled with highly intellectual theologians content to ponder the things of God without being held down by things like character flaws, nagging doubts, relational conflicts, family tensions, or physical and mental illness.
In my mind, I just knew that the people at SBC were better than me, that I was not good enough, and I would never belong in such a place.
3. Fear of Failure
For me, to fail is to not be good enough. If I fail, it means I don’t have what it takes. I’m “less than” whatever it would take to succeed. And if there are other people who succeed in areas I fail, then I am not as good as them. Failure brings up feelings of inadequacy, shame, embarrassment, and hopelessness. NOT FUN. Failure is to be avoided at all costs – even at the cost of not truly living.
I knew that coming to SBC would mean doing things that were far beyond my comfort zone. And since I would have to do so many difficult things, the probability of failure – and all the associated feelings – increased drastically. Gone were the days where I could walk through my days confident that I could tackle the things I needed to tackle with relative success.
What if I couldn’t keep up with homework? What if everyone else fit in, but I failed to? What if I failed to keep track of my finances?
“my mind was heavy, running ragged with worst case scenarios”
This quote from the song ‘Six’ once again comes to mind as I remember what I was worrying about prior to coming to SBC. And I’m almost certain that fear would have kept me from coming to SBC had it not been for one key event.
The Plot Twist!
One of the hard parts about figuring out whether to take the risk and go to SBC was that I couldn’t imagine myself there. I lived 1,800 kms away and had no idea what SBC was like. I couldn’t imagine the people, the courses, or the community.
In November 2016, much to my surprise, an opportunity arose! I was able to make the flight to Manitoba and spend 5 days in the SBC community. I am beyond grateful that I had the privilege to do this because it’s what changed everything.
During this time, I was able to attend classes, live in dorm, attend school sporting events, join in on Care Groups, and get to know the people who worked and attended SBC. I got to hear people’s experience – what they loved about SBC, the struggles they faced, and why they thought it was worth it.
One thing that will always stand out to me is how much everyone cared. It’s hard to put into words the community of belonging, welcome, and care that surrounds SBC. And for the first time, I could imagine myself there. I could imagine myself going to class, hanging out with friends, growing in my faith, and having an absolute blast.
Experiencing a small slice of SBC gave me just enough confidence to seriously consider it as a possibility. If anything was worth facing my fears for, it was SBC.
If only fear were that simple (I’m low-key laughing at how stubborn I was). I visited SBC in November 2016 and I didn’t attend until September 2018. It took another 2 years! A lot of wrestling happened during this time, and my fears won most of the time.
Eventually, I decided that enough was enough. I still longed for the community I experienced at SBC and so I decided to follow where God was leading.
The song “Six” describes this state of ‘stepping forward with trepidation’ well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_ikZcsTU0M.
“but I’m ready, ready to fight… maybe I’m stronger than I realize”
“fear won’t go away, but I can keep it at bay”
“with a vigilant heart, I’ll push into the dark”
I was ready to fight, in a sense, ready to put myself out there and to live my life. The feeling of being paralyzed was still there and threatened to overtake me at times, but maybe I was indeed stronger than I realized. Maybe my God was stronger than I realized.
Pushing into the dark, keeping the fear at bay – these are realities I would have to live with. The fear didn’t magically go away when I decided to go to SBC. For me, fear never truly goes away. But when I got sick and tired of it controlling me, I took up the battle garments and got to fighting.
This is obviously easier said than done. It did, after all, take me 2 years to summon the courage. But, oh, was it worth it. I’m so excited for the next blog where I get to share the final step in my story – the reality of what SBC is like and how my real experience compared to all the fears I had in my head.
If you are considering SBC today, I would invite you to come and visit the place. It just may surprise you how actually experiencing the community can help you overcome the fears that hinder you.
And above all, SBC aside, I truly hope that each of you who struggles with fear would find the thing that makes the fight worth it for you, the thing that you “push into the dark” for even if it terrifies you, because that’s where the magic happens.
Judy is SBC’s student blogger for 2021-2022. She is currently in her 4th year of studies at SBC with a Ministry Leadership focus.