A Story in Three Acts
The song “Six” by Sleeping at Last is one of the most accurate representations of what I feel like when I am afraid. Which, for me, is a common occurrence. You can listen to the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_ikZcsTU0M.
The first third of the song speaks of the exhausting and paralyzing power of fear (the dark side):
“My mind was heavy, running ragged with worst case scenarios, Oh God I’m so tired of being afraid”
Simply put, fear is our emotional response to a real or perceived threat. Fear is just trying to keep us safe; it’s designed to protect us. Normally fear does its job well. It keeps us from touching hot stoves because we remember what it feels like to get burned.
But fear is also the thing that says, “Remember how dumb you felt that one time you got picked last for soccer? Well, that really sucked and so we are never going to play soccer again because we don’t want to get hurt”. A lot of the time, fear is that voice that keeps us from taking risks and trying new things because we know what it feels like to be hurt or scared.
This is the type of fear that made me play it safe for 3 years after high school. Because of past experiences where I failed and felt “less than”, I didn’t have the courage to take certain risks. I felt that God was calling me to SBC, but I let fear be the standalone factor in whether I followed that calling.
“College is too risky; nobody will like you; you won’t fit in,” warned Fear.
“Of course, why hadn’t I thought of that before!? Thanks, Fear, you’re doing such a good job of protecting me!” I responded thankfully.
It might sound a bit dramatic emphasizing fear to this extent for a blog which is literally just about my journey to SBC. But I want to be able to accurately convey the difficulties I faced, and the difficulties God helped me overcome. I don’t think I’m overstating the power fear had (and sometimes still has) in my life, and the power it may hold over some of you.
My deepest desire is that even just one of you would read this, feel seen and heard, and be emboldened to summon the courage it takes to go where God is calling.
For me, that was SBC. That might be where God is calling some of you, and I truly believe SBC is an amazing community of faith to kickstart your post-secondary life (or enrich your life in whatever stage you’re in). However, the more important thing is that each of you follow God wherever He leads, whether that be SBC or not.
So, why was I afraid? Well, the answer to that question is a multi-faceted diamond, my friends, and one I will be answering in this 3-Act blog series. In Act I , I’ll be talking about the fears of letting go of life as I knew it. In Act II, I’ll talk about the fears of starting over in a new place. Then, it’s all coming together in the Act III where I reflect on reality. Did any of my fears come true? What actually ended up happening? Did I live?!
Let’s get started.
Act I: Letting Go
1. Fear of leaving security and familiarity.
Something you should know about me is that I’m from Leamington, Ontario. Therefore, moving to Steinbach, Manitoba would be a change to say the least.
Leamington was my home. I knew the best spots to go cruising, where to get the best ice cream, and which Tim’s had the best coffee. I had a close circle of family and friends. If I moved away, I would be leaving my people and my community of love and support. Missing out on family events, seeing my nieces and nephews grow up, going on adventures with friends, – these were all losses I would have to grieve. And to top it off, I would be trading the security of having a well-paying job with the life of your typical broke college student.
Without knowing exactly what the future in Steinbach would hold, leaving all these amazing blessings was daunting. What if it would be a mistake to leave everything? Would I leave my life of relational and financial security only to be disappointed with what SBC had to offer?
2. Fear of Letting People Down
If I let go of my life in Leamington for a while, I felt like I was letting down the people who counted on me. I was afraid that they would be upset with me or hurt that I was deciding to leave them to pursue my own dreams.
Even though my friends and family told me they supported me and would be okay without me, I doubted them. Were they just saying that to make me feel better, but they didn’t actually mean it?
No, that wasn’t the case, but the voice of fear made it easy to believe it was. I couldn’t shake the fear that I was deeply hurting the people I cared about most in my life. And it’s what kept me from going to SBC for a long time. Was I being selfish? What if SBC was a huge disappointment and I left my friends and family for nothing?
These fears kept me paralyzed for 3 years, telling me that venturing outside of Leamington and going to SBC was not worth the risk. I wanted to take shelter, so that’s what I did. While it’s obvious that I did eventually attend SBC, I want us to stay in this state of being paralyzed by fear for a while longer. Where we long to pursue God’s call on our lives, but the idea of change creates so much fear that we stay stuck in one place.
While it’s not much fun, I want to stay in this stage without jumping to neat resolutions because sometimes it’s helpful to sit with discomfort for a while instead of just rushing to fix everything. I have found that when I sit with my fear and am curious about its origin, God shows me an area of my life where He wants me to trust Him more deeply. It’s in those areas of fear that God is wanting to transform me for His glory and my good. But first I have to be willing to acknowledge the fear and sit with it.
If you’re at this stage of paralysis, debating whether to let go, I empathize with you. It’s not easy to leave behind that which is comfortable and safe and good in exchange for an unknown future. And it’s certainly not easy sitting with your fears, trying to understand them and searching for a way through.
But I truly believe that it is worth it. As I begin to understand my fears and what triggers them, I can see reality more clearly. While I still struggle with being afraid to let go of security and familiarity, this fear no longer has the same hold on me. I can remind myself of God’s provision for me in the past and I know I can talk to certain people who will reorient my perspective.
By being curious about fear and where it was coming from, I became better equipped to crush it to dust. It’s like in the movie How to Train Your Dragon! The dragons seem like these undefeatable and indestructible monsters. Yet, when Hiccup starts learning more about them instead of just being afraid of them and seeing them as enemies, he finds that he knows just what to do to turn them into docile friends.
In the meantime, I invite you to be curious about your fears. Be curious about what they are, where they come from, and what power they have in your life. Be curious about what God has to say about your fears, about how He wants to meet you and transform you right in the areas where you struggle most, and about the comfort He has for you.
What fear is holding you back from being and doing all God is calling you to be and do? I pray that God would grant you deep insights as you reflect, and that a divine courage and hope would begin to seep into your very being.
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.