I did something this morning I’ve been looking forward to doing all week – I took the Friday morning classes at my gym.
I haven’t been to the gym on Friday for two months, because work obligations took me other places. I spoke at a women’s prison and met women soon to be released. I represented my organization at the Phoenix Open, attended a planning workshop and a donor relations training. On two separate Fridays I sat in on a support group for moms with substance use disorder who are trying to get (and stay) clean. They meet in a back office of a methadone clinic and I come to introduce my organization and all the ways we can help and support them, but I usually finish what I have to say in a couple minutes. For the other two hours, I sit and listen. That’s my favorite part.
I love my job and the work I get to do. I love the people I meet. I love spending one Friday with nonprofit directors and another with convicted women or addicted women. I love all the things I do in between – writing grant proposals, training people in trauma-informed care, writing content to share and post, and delivering goodies to those who support our work. There’s never a dull week. Perfect for someone like me.
I love what I do, but the truth is, I don’t always feel qualified. And that’s a very real feeling.
At the Friday workshop, the morning icebreaker required each of the attendees to choose a magazine clipping that most resonated with them. I chose the picture of the woman eating an ice cream sundae in the pool. She wore bright red lipstick and large sunglasses, and her head was tilted back in carefree confidence. When it was my turn to explain why I chose the picture I did, I shared that I’ve recently adopted the question, ‘Michelle, what would you choose if you had nothing to fear?’ Some days, especially on a Friday, the best answer to that question is, ‘I’d eat ice cream in the pool.’
There are much bigger fears, of course, and there are variations of the question: ‘What would you choose if you were guaranteed _________? What would you do if you couldn’t fail? What would you try if hesitation didn’t have the first say? ’ These are good questions, the kind that drain confusion from a moment of indecision, so all that’s left is a pile of fears and one crystal clear desire.
‘I’d raise this baby as a single mom.’
‘I’d move across the country.’
‘I’d start a blog and put myself out there.’
‘I’d follow the passion, live in my natural design, and trust the Designer to fill in the gaps.’
One very good question draws out all sorts of answers.
The only question to ask next is, ‘So you gonna do it?’
My word for 2020 is free. (Yes, I have a word for the year, and yes, I feel basic.) I’ve been reflecting on, digesting, and applying truth for five years, and freedom follows truth. I know this well. I love freedom – a whole lot, in fact – but I respect the fact that freedom is not without fear. Freedom is wide open, untucked, uncovered, and usually, a little chilly. I’ve stepped into it before and stopped dead. I had to recalibrate, had to get my bearings. Where was I and where was I going? I’ve asked those questions in freedom – because I’m a normal human being.
A sense of freedom, ironically, comes with a sense of lost – ask Paul. Freedom comes with a sense of weakness – ask Gideon. Freedom comes with a sense of doubt – ask Peter. Freedom comes with an overwhelming awareness of underqualification – ask Moses. Freedom will put you face to face with your mortality – ask Esther.
His permission to live freely is essentially an invitation to step into places where I don’t feel qualified. Why? Because freedom activates the faith relationship. In faith, I create space to depend on Christ more, and in His faithfulness, He meets me there with all the strength, wisdom, power, and grace to finish the work. And then the best part – we celebrate together.
So, I’ll leave you with a challenge: What would you choose if you had nothing to fear? What would freedom invite you to do, try, risk, or believe?
Don’t expect the answer or the action to come easy. Fear is quickly learned and the unlearning process is incredibly slow. I know this well, too.
What would I choose if I had nothing to fear? Maybe ice cream. But mostly, I’d trust Jesus more.