Last week my daughter Cate managed to do two things that, for different reasons, were real challenges: fasting from food for thirty hours and singing a solo in front of a large group of people. It took courage for Cate to do these things and I’m very proud of her for conquering the fear associated with both. I don’t know that she will be racing to do either again anytime soon. I also imagine that being in a vocal recital will still cause Cate stage fright. The difference next time though is that she can draw from her previous experience and remember that she can open her mouth and sing.
I recognize the anxiety that Cate was feeling. There are things that I know I need to do that quite frankly, scare me. Sometimes when I think about those things that enliven fear in me I can feel my stomach drop out from under me. Lately this has been happening when I think about the long-term life of The Dale. To be clear, I don’t feel anxious about the community or its ability to continue to gather. What I wonder about is my capacity to fulfill the role I have in it: pastor, director, administrator, fundraiser. I feel ill-equipped.
When I confessed this feeling to my husband recently he simply said, “then you are exactly where you should be”. I know he’s right. Being in this place forces me to lean on others, ask for help and rely on God. Here I have to choose to take leaps of faith, which isn’t so different from what I was encouraging Cate to do right until the moment she had the last bite of food before her fast or when her name came up in the recital program. Some of the best things have happened because I decided to jump despite the fear and trepidation.
In truth, I also have scars because not all the jumps have resulted in the desired outcome. With time these scars do take on a different form. A song I love says, “they are less like scars and more like character”. I want to battle fear with a certain abandon and trust that my wounds will turn into scars of character. This life of mine requires stepping out in faith, over and over again. It also affords me the opportunity to be a part of a radically beautiful place like The Dale.
The next time I am overwhelmed with my role I want to recall the way Cate stepped up to the stage, composed herself and sweetly sang “The Swallow”. She was anxious the entire song AND she did it. I hope I can do the same.