Ask anyone why they have not yet achieved a goal and you will usually get fear as their reason for not attempting to pursue their desire.
I’m afraid I will fail. I’m afraid my life will have to change. I’m afraid I’m not prepared.
The list of fears that hold us back from all we could accomplish is endless. Fear paralyzes us and keeps us from moving forward in our lives. What would it look like if we stopped doing the following essential life activities because of our fears?
Although this list is intended to be fun, these are all things we do every day in spite of the great risk involved. We know that we must do these things in order to survive. (Well, maybe not give high fives, but you get the point.) If we really stopped to think about it, we could come up with a list of reasons not to do activities because of all the things that could happen. Why do we engage in these highly dangerous activities and overcome our fears daily? Because we know that the benefits outweigh the risks. We know that it is worth it to risk falling in order to walk or being a messy eater in order to nourish our bodies.
Many times in life our fear keeps us from going where God wants to take us. We have difficulty seeing the benefits of the risk and even more difficulty trusting that God will provide for all of our needs when we follow His plan. What we often lose sight of is that it is through our failures that we experience the most growth. Failure can often be life-changing and the very catalyst that sets us on the path towards our greatest successes in life.
Moving Beyond Fear
1. Prayer, Scripture and the Sacraments – As with all things, daily prayer will help us to conquer our fears and strengthen us. The greatest form of prayer is the Mass, so be sure to attend as often as you are able. The Word of God is full of stories of people who overcame their fears and accomplished great things for the Lord.
“Let nothing disturb you; Let nothing frighten you, All things pass away.God never changes.Patience obtains all things. He who has God, finds he lacks nothing. God alone suffices.” – St. Teresa of Avila
2. Seek counsel – We are often blinded by our emotions. Sometimes fear can be a good thing – fear of a hot stove keeps us from getting burned. We need the wisdom of someone we can trust (a parent or a priest is a good place to start) in order to help us evaluate the reality of our fear.
3. Think about all that could go wrong. – Think about the worst possible outcome for your situation. Would you lose all your money and become homeless? Would you lose all your friends? Once you have reflected on the worst case scenario, imagine how you would handle that. Most of the time, these worst case outcomes won’t happen and even if they do are not as big of a deal as we make them out to be in our minds.
4. Think about all that could go right. – Think about all that could go right! Imagine how your life might change based on your decision. Would you grow closer to Christ by relying on His strength to see you through? Would you put to use some of the gifts God gave you? Create better friendships and more meaningful relationships?
5. Examine the big picture. – Now that you have thought about both possible outcomes – the good and the bad, do the benefits outweigh the risk involved? Even if you attempt your goal and fail, will you have followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting?
6. Pray Again. – Spend more time in prayer after you have reflected on all these things. Spending time in Adoration can help you open your mind and heart to what God is calling you to do.
7. Accept the possibility of failure. – You might fail, but in doing so, your character will grow. Do some research to find some Saints whose “failure” led them to holiness.
8. Act. – Take the necessary action to overcome your fear and move forward confidently knowing that you have taken time to let God lead you.