The Cowardly Lion believes that his fear makes him inadequate. He does not understand that courage means acting in the face of fear.
Despite my attempts to plan and schedule, I’m always running short on time to write, I tell myself.
Now I sit in the midst of insane turbulence, four more hours to go, and desperately seeking a distraction to the bumpiness engulfing me.
What excuse do I have now? Most of the people around me seem convinced we’re all going to die, and I’ve already tried bartering for my life with the Lord several times over.
With this plane literally bouncing its way home, I’m searching deep within me for that thing called strength. I was hoping to find it in a whiskey ginger, but it’s been too rough for even the attendants to stand.
Perhaps I’ll find it in words.
Yesterday, I sat in a conference room across the country, surrounded by 18 incredible women. Smart. Passionate. Inspiring, to say the least. All of them gathered in one place for the very purpose of harnessing their potential.
It was 65 degrees outside and to my left, sun spilled in through the wall of windows showing off the Arizona mountains in the distance, covered with cactus, red stones, and shrubs. It was breathtaking and left me questioning (again) why I live in the northeast. My mind bopped back and forth between wanting to stare into the sun or stay engaged in the stimulating conversation.
We were discussing the power in drowning out all the noise in our head that tells us our goals are unreachable; that our visions for driving change are impossible.
I felt a sense of pride for my company as I sat there, thanking the Lord again for the opportunity to work in a forward thinking environment.
The conversation continued on, “If we can learn to recognize the doubts and barriers in our minds, identify that there are few to no facts making those doubts valid, and see how endless our possibilities really are, there would be little standing in the way of our goals and visions.”
Yes, okay. I buy that.
It connected in my mind to the mission statements Big Fisch and I wrote out for our lives a little while back. I shared with you that many days I pull out my mission statement and read it aloud, particularly when I’m feeling doubt rise up within me, causing me to momentarily forget who I am.
Before I knew it, my hand went up and I was sharing this practical application as a way to exercise drowning out all the noise, with the group. I mentioned the power your statement holds, when you spend time thoughtfully writing out what you believe, who you are, and what you will live for, and how the lies in your head can’t stand up to the truth in your words. How when you hear your mission, your visions become that much clearer.
Then, the very thing I feared in the back of my mind, happened. A woman next to me looked me in the eyes and said “What is your mission? Can we hear it?”
I had no intention of sharing mine. It was personal. It was me…It was like running around the room naked and asking to be rated.
I felt the heat immediately rise to my cheeks, and I began to sweat as I shifted in my chair.
I can’t share this. It’s so vulnerable. What if they’re offended? What if they think I’m crazy? No one will like me. Will I be able to make any friends? It’s so faith based…can I even say it here?
A million fears ran through my mind and everything in me wanted to lie – “I don’t have it with me, sorry. I can’t remember it word for word.”
Suddenly I felt like I was in high school again, wondering if my faith would leave me feeling left out, different, not accepted.
But all that slipped out of my lips was “Sure. If you’d like to hear.”
What?! What are you doing?
“I would” she said.
I reached down for my phone, hands trembling, aware of how vulnerable I not only felt, but clearly looked, and against every voice in my head screaming at me to stop, proceeded to read:
I am a daughter of Christ, created to live, love, and serve as He did. To be a light in the darkness around me, a voice of truth in a world of lies, and an example of hope and joy in a depraved generation. I will steadfastly love, support, and care for my family and friends, living as a person of integrity, wisdom, and humility. I will diligently pursue the calling God has placed on my life, with perseverance, courage, and resilience, no matter what obstacles I face. I will continue to learn, grow, and refine, being made more into Christ’s likeness. I am fierce and passionate; dedicated to encouraging and helping others grow and reach their potential. With an identity founded in Christ, I will live free from the approval of others and be true to the unique person God has made me. I will go where I am called, led by faith rather than familiarity. I will fear nothing and no one except God himself. I will leave a legacy of followers of Christ, equipped to carry on as warriors for the kingdom of God. This, is my life mission.
I don’t know how I got through it (heck, it’s scary enough to share it here), but as I reached the last sentence, I forced myself to lift my eyes and make eye contact.
The response I got was overwhelming. The women were grateful that I shared, moved at what they called courage, and open instead of judgmental. I had feared appearing closed minded to them, when in reality I gained credibility.
It didn’t matter in that moment whether they agreed with everything I said or not. They understood that I was declaring what was true of myself and my beliefs, not condemning anyone around me.
And it was then that I realized that I will be faced with a similar decision every day of my life. Each morning I will have the chance to decide – will I be true and unapologetic of who I am, or will I try to fit into a mold of others?
Will I have the courage to step out and be bold, chasing after the visions pressing on me, or will I play it safe, desiring to blend in rather than potentially offending?
I don’t think I can afford to play it safe.
I don’t think any of us can. Life is too short for that. And there’s such an impact we can have.
Courage. I have a feeling I’m going to continue to need a whole lot more of it.
Courage to transform environments around me, courage to at times stand alone, courage to cut off that which is toxic, and courage to choose joy regardless of circumstances.
And lastly…courage to drink this (delivered at last) whisky ginger even if it the plane drops out of the sky.
Because it’s good, gosh darn it. And I’ve been scared sh*tless.
Over and out,
– Tiny Fisch