Lord, what would you have me write about today?
“Not being enough,” whispers into my mind.
That’s a painful topic. I don’t know if I want to go there.
Last night I was thinking and writing about the need to narrow myself, not hold on to ‘keeping options open,’ but to deliberately dive deeply into one specific area, to become a specialist, or at least focused. I thought I had. Doing a PhD has to, by definition, be specialist, unique, deep into one idea. But I feel like I’ve held myself back, not diving all-in because I didn’t know what would come after, and I was scared to block potential paths that might be needed later.
It used to be that once you chose a career you followed that path until retirement, it was incredibly challenging to change, to start over in a different area. Maybe that’s why midlife crises were such a big thing. But that’s not the case anymore. I think I heard that people shift lobs, on average, every two years, often shifting field or area at the same time. Heck, I’ve done it myself, that’s why I’m still a student at 33, because I chose to start over in a completely different field.
Shutting doors or following one path doesn’t make others unavailable in the future. But staying still, staying in the shallows, not risking a change to the self for more satisfying work, that’s life driven by fear, not hope.
Aren’t I meant to be standing in the perfect Love which drives out fear? (see 1 John 4:18)
Does that make my choice to stay in the shallows disobedience because I am letting fear rule me, I’m letting fear be more important to me than God, I’m willing to break unity with my God rather than risk in the places it is asked of me, where it is promised that my God is holding me, where it is promised to be working for good (see Romans 8:28)?
My fears have long ruled me, long controlled my choices, am I willing to stand aside and let it make another choice against God’s desire? The Bible says I cannot serve two masters (see Matthew 6:24), I cannot serve both God and Fear. So which will I choose?
Fear promises to keep me safe, to keep me sheltered and protected, but I know living with Fear is not enjoyable, no matter how safe I might be. Fear is never satisfied, I can never withdraw from this world enough, from my own mind enough, for Fear to say, “Enough! You are safe now.” Fear will keep pressing until my mind splinters and my family is broken, and death has come over us all.
And God? God asks me to risk, to step towards fear while holding faith, to cling to hope not despair, to seek change for both myself and others, that God’s love might be better known, better lived in. God promises to always be with me, in all things (see Psalm 139), not that I will always be safe, but that I will not be alone. I will have God’s arms supporting and carrying me, God goes both before me and comes behind me, and will supply for all my needs as I live in God’s way, as I choose to move towards love and wholeness, unity and hope.
And my answer seems obvious – it is better to risk! But fear has such a hold of my heart, my mind. Such an automatic reaction, fear. The Bible tells us that we are able to renew our minds (see Romans 12:2), that we can take thoughts captive and act to change them (see 2 Corinthians 10:5), to remake our lives into ones which look like God (see Ephesians 4:24), that tell of Christ, that spread love and seed hope. This is what I want, what my heart yearns for.
So I stop, and I breathe deep, finding once again the Sacred who dwells within me, recentring myself once again in God’s love, letting the one who is Love be the force which casts out Fear, I cannot do it myself, I cling too tightly, afraid of what my life might look like without it. But Love is here. Love will carry me through, whatever comes next, however I might change. I know that Love brings wholeness and fullness of Life (see John 10:10 and Ephesians 3:19), far beyond anything Fear could offer.
So to this I will cling, this hope, this faith, this love (see 1 Corinthians 13:13). I will not let Fear rule me, rather, I will turn fearward, I will turn into Love.