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Being Seen

Jill1Hi. I’m Jill, a writer, speaker, editor, pastor, and all-around person in need of grace. Particularly now, since currently, I’m working on moving my blog and website information over to this lovely and venerable site. But for now, if you’d like to read current or past blogs, please visit me here.

I talk about a lot of things on my blog and in my books and articles. But usually, they focus on a few main topics. Fear, faith, empowerment (particularly of women and the next generation), caring for those less powerful, and trying to live freely the abundant life God has given us.

To let you know I know what I’m talking about with this fear and empowerment thing, let me give you some background.

warriors-together4I’m the kids who refused to step too far into the back yard after dark. The woman who slept with a nightlight when I was twenty. The person who would still rather face a rabid bobcat than walk up to a stranger and begin a conversation. Fear has been a really close acquaintance of mine. For too long.

Yet there is God, telling me to live “adventurously expectant.” To look at each day and ask, “What’s next?” And that enthusiasm isn’t supposed to lessen when today’s “next” wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. Or when we’re terribly certain tomorrow’s will be worse. “Fear not” may be the most common command in the Bible, but fear is also perhaps the most common human emotion. What’s happening here?

I don’t want to live life as a grave-tender, so wrapped in fear of what might be that I lose the time in between. I want to live an adventure for God’s kingdom, and I want to do it with you. I want to know who I am, and I want you to know who you are, because of who He is.

I want us both to know the identity God put in us when he created the imago dei in the garden. He hasn’t rescinded that deal. I want to see you and hear you and know you–and I want you to know He already sees and hears and knows you.

To prove I’m serious, here’s your first story.

I’m terrified of spiders. If you don’t believe this, you’ve never seen me run out of the shower shrieking because there was an eight-legged creation of God on the tile wall. Which is a good thing. No one should see me run out of the shower. Ever.

I hyperventilated if I saw a picture of a spider. But before leading my fist mission trip, I decided, no more. Time to face it. It can’t be as bad in reality as in imagination. Sure it can’t. Totally believed that, except not.

Spider (1)I marched into the pet store (OK, I crept into the fourth pet store, after failing three times) to find a tarantula and–you got it–hold that baby. The very helpful pet shop guy talked me through the traumatic process. He assured me the spider would just sit there. And you know what? It did. You know what else? They’re actually soft. And even cute in a . . . creepy, way-too-many-legs-and-eyes, spidery sort of way.

Seriously, God gave me such a calm that the whole thing was kind of surreal and interesting. Plus, I made sure to get it on video. Because, you, know, this is not going to be repeated on an annual basis or anything.

I’m not saying I’m going to go out and get a bird-eating tarantula for a housemate anytime soon. But–fear only has the power we give it. And I was tired of giving it.

The Lord knows I’d lived through way worse than spiders by that time, anyway.

So, let’s join one another. I can’t wait to see what happens here.

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PS– I’d love it if you want to hit the button to subscribe or shoot me an email to be put on my mailing list!

Handling the Truth

img_8885“You can’t handle the truth!” I watched Jack Nicholson’s face bulge in the trailer to A Few Good Men as he yelled that iconic line. I’ve never seen the movie, but I got the point. The truth is complex. Nuanced. Potentially too dangerous for the Tom-Cruise-character person asking to know it.

His isn’t an isolated opinion. I suspect that’s part of what’s behind a lot of the assumptions today that there is no truth. In reality, seeking truth, and finding it, could be scary. It could change us. It could demand things. And we could find out after all that we were wrong anyway in believing it.

If it’s really as nuanced as we suspect, it might be better to just let it lie and assume it’s nuanced enough that we can get by with whatever we cobble together.

Truth is tricky. Lack of truth is trickier. But the trickiest question of all—

If Christianity is the truth, why does it matter to my life?

Truth sets us free

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8.31-36

It’s not the expectation of most these days that Christianity sets people free. The majority of onlookders would accuse it of restricting freedom with all its rules and regulations. Religion isn’t freeing—it’s smothering.

They have a point. When the truth is handled wrongly, it does smother. Paul warned Timothy he’d be ashamed before God if he could not “correctly explain (handle) the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2.15). Can we handle the truth? Sometimes not, when we consider all the ways we have used it to hurt people rather than love them.

Yet Jesus says that the truth will set us free, and if his servants don’t always handle it correctly, that does not mean Jesus’ words are nullified.

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Tension

When I was a child, my two cousins, my sister and I decided to get ourselves into trouble. Kids do this at times, I hear. Especially kids who don’t have the benefit of a Christian upbringing. We went to a drug store, stuffed some candy bars into our pockets, and left. At least, the three of them did. I had no pockets, so I did no stuffing. Not ten feet out the door, security came and hauled our bums back in, gave us a scare, and had our parents pick us up. Everyone was in big trouble except — me. No goods were found on me; I had done nothing wrong. Technically.

But the guilt of fully intending wrong and participating dug at me and would not let me go. I had no freedom to enjoy the afternoon. I was miserable, though unpunished. Only a full confession to my mom brought the freedom my soul needed that afternoon.

Truth is freeing. There is no freedom when we are living in lies, or living a lie with our lives. Even those who say they don’t believe in truth have to admit—there are parts of their hearts they don’t love, aspects of their lives that don’t pass the test of looking oneself in the eye in the mirror. We all want freedom.

There is tension in the lines of our lives, like there was tension in the line between me and my parents, until our lives are true. Jesus asserts that our lives are not ever going to be true until we come to him for forgiveness and power to live in the rightness that we know.

When we live lives that are lies—lives that are not true to our created purpose—there is tension. We have no freedom. We know this, we feel it, even as we argue that there is no truth.

God’s Gift of Truth

img_8763Far from being restricting, truth is a gift from God. It frees us to know exactly what we need to live true lives, not to have to guess, to communicate without tension with the Creator of our souls.

If the truth of God says don’t lie—we are free to live in authenticity and real relationship with others when we submit.

If the truth of God says don’t gossip—we are free to love others well and not worry if anything we said will be overheard and misunderstood.

if the truth of God says don’t covet or envy—we are free to be thankful for what we have, not worrying about what we don’t and being truly happy for others’ good fortune.

That’s hardly restricting.

That’s a truth that sets us free.

We Stood for Refugees. Literally.

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“Well, when we planned this event earlier this week we thought we’d have about forty people and we cold hold it in our offices.”

The World Relief spokesperson looked out at the crowd of an estimated 800-1000 people.

“I guess we were wrong.”

I’ve rarely been as proud to be a Jesus follower as I was that night. In response to the previous week’s executive order halting the refugee program for four months and the Syrian refugee program indefinitely, God’s people stood up.

For some of us, we stood up because there was nowhere to sit. The megachurch pews were packed out, people lined the walls two deep, and it was probably a good thing no fire marshals were present. At the end of the evening when staff workers asked refugees among us to raise their hands, everyone stood in a show of solidarity and respect. Refugees received a standing ovation.

I have to admit, I cried. It’s been lonely lately, fighting for the least of these among us, the ones Jesus told us were a stand-in for him in this world. It’s been a turbid sea of misinformation, deliberate lies, and anger. So much anger.

So to see that there are so many ready to stand and fight that same fight was overwhelming. I know not all showed up in support. Some needed more information. Some were curious and/or concerned, wondering if their security was threatened. But clearly, hundreds of people had only one questions—what can we do to help?

Here’s the important thing—whether you belong to the group who wants to help or the group who questions why, you are a welcome and needed part of the conversation. None of this can be talked about from only one side. So as a World Relief volunteer (not as an authorized spokesperson) I’d love to have that conversation. Above all, I want to have the conversation in a Christlike way—“full of grace and truth.”

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So if you have questions, I hope this helps. Especially, if your question is “What can I do?”

First, there are the usual questions.

Isn’t it good to have secure vetting process? Isn’t that what this is all about?

Yes, it is good. It is imperative. No one is safe without a good vetting process for refugees, us or them. However, the process is good. It is tight. it takes almost two years (and that does not count the many years some people wait in refugee camps before their process begins.) You can get a brief overview of what happens in this process here.

A terrorist hoping to get through as a refugee would have to travel to a refugee camp, prove his refugee status before being allowed to stay, wait for years until allowed to apply to the UN, hope to be among the less than one half of one percent admitted to the US, go through a two-year process of interviews and biometric and medical exams, and get past Homeland Security. Good luck with that. Student and tourist visas are so much faster.

Might we let in terrorists?

Since the Refugee Act of 1980 set up systematic procedures for admittance, there has been not one refugee implicated in a major attack in the US. Not one person has died. We have resettled over three million refugees and not one has killed anyone in a terrorist act. That’s a pretty good record. Surely a system working that well, even if it needs scrutiny, did not need a total shutdown while that scrutiny was being accomplished.

According to the CATO Institute, “ The chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year.” That is one person among half the world’s population.

Meanwhile, the chances of dying or watching one of your loved ones die in, say, Aleppo, is approximately 100 percent.  I’ll let you do the moral math on that one.

Why don’t we take care of our own first?

We should take care of our own. We should take care of anyone in need. Americans have the means to do so—we just don’t have the will. This is not an either-or question nor a zero-sum game. We are not required to choose. I can care for anyone and everyone.

You know what I notice? People who have generous spirits tend to be generous on lots of levels. They have open hearts (and schedules and wallets) for many. Conversely, folks who tend to questions why we help others, who appear just a bit . . . ungenerous . . . in their speech and criticisms? They don’t tend to be helping anyone. It’s just kind of a pattern.

Because we have the means for both. We do not have the will.

What does the Bible really say?

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Bangladesh / Rohingya refugees from Myanmar / A grandmother and her granddaughter. Teknaf, Cox’s Bazaar District / UNHCR / G.M.B. Akash / June 2006

From the covenant with Abraham, God told his people to bless the nations. As the Israelites pursued their Exodus under Moses, God repeatedly commanded them to remember that they were once wandering refugees. They were once the foreigners. They were once the immigrants. And they should remember that and treat the foreigners among them with welcome, kindness, and respect.

When the Israelites were exiled from their land, God laid two charged against them. They committed idolatry, and they refused justice to the oppressed. The prophets recite the realities over and over—God will judge those who do not remember that they were once or, easily could be, those needing welcome, kindness, and respect.

To which Jesus adds, love your neighbor as yourself. And btw, your neighbor is everyone. No exceptions.

To deny this as an overarching theme of scripture is to be reading a very different Bible than the one I studied in seminary.

What can I do to help?

Good question! Resettlement agencies will face a huge shortfall of funding with this EO. They will be forced to shut down some operations and lay off staff that are currently serving refugees that have come in the last several years. So first, donate to the organization of your choice. They need it desperately. Mine is World Relief; your choice might be different.

(And hey–if you want to donate by contributing to my “Walk for WR fund” go ahead! I would appreciate it! I’m excited to be doing this walk. Because it’s Worlds Relief, and because they’re not making me run.)

Second, let your congresspeople know how you feel. Call. Email. Write. Keep watch over the situation.

Advocate. Educate yourself on the facts and then tell people. Nicely. Gently. Like Jesus would. Not the Jesus who took a whip to the temple (because we are not Jesus and not really authorized to do that) but the Jesus who used words to heal, reconcile, and educate. Fruit of the Spirit, people.

Volunteer. I’ve had the privilege of bringing refugees from the airport to their new home. It’s a joy-filled trip! I’ve also had the joy of purchasing the things they will need to start a new life and setting up an apartment to welcome families home. Families need “friendship partners” to come alongside the and help them learn the ways of this confusing culture. They need volunteers to teach them English and help them navigate the citizenship process. They need advocates in churches. The list is long. I’m excited to be finishing my training as an ESL instructor. It isn’t hard, and it doesn’t take long. I put it off for years, sure that I didn’t have the time, or the personality, for this work. Until God kicked me and reminded me that those are very first world worries in a world where people have lost their children, spouses, countries, and homes.

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Is it scary? Yes. I am an introvert among introverts, and talking to strangers, especially strangers who don’t speak my language, is so far out of my comfort zone. But seriously, how far are they out of all that has ever been comfortable?

Five Useful Questions for Making Decisions — Plus One

50c07-img_4474Decisions, decisions. That’s what we’ve been talking about for the past five weeks. Decision making. Fear of making a decision. Fear of not making a decision. We’ve covered five great questions to ask ourselves when we are looking at decisions, risks, or ideas. The five questions were originally posed by Gretchen Rubin here.

To the five questions already covered, I would add this one:

Is this decision irreversible?

If I decide to do (or not do) this thing today, does that mean I’ve committed myself to it forever and ever amen? No chance of reprieve or plea of insanity?

Often, we convince ourselves it is when in fact, it’s not. We get ourselves all worked up and terrified to take one direction because we’re sure we can never change course. We’ll be stuck. It’s like we don’t remember there’s an “off” button on the blender as well as an “on.” Once we start the whole dang thing going, we’ll get sucked into that mix forever and never be able to extricate ourselves.

Now, this may be true if you’re a strawberry. It’s tough to put a strawberry in the blender and retrieve it before it’s strawberry banana surprise puree. But you are not a piece of fruit. You have options.

Well, sometimes

In fact, some things in life are irreversible. If you decide to get pregnant and succeed, you’re going to have to go through with it. To my knowledge, “control-alt-delete” has no effect there. Likewise, once you decide to say “I do,” you did. If you decide to jump off a cliff into the ocean and partway down think better of it, you’d definitely better still know how to swim.

But not that often

But those things are big, rare, life-altering things that, by their nature, happen infrequently. Most things can start out one way and then bend down the road a bit when the need arises. Why do we forget that we have control over changing our mind?

Case in point—our trip to Europe a few years ago. We had planned a detailed itinerary (and by we I mean I, seeing as I am the only one who plans vacations and the other four usually follow like lemmings to their doom). But because of transportation strikes, unavailable trains, and the French being, well, French, things didn’t always go as planned.

217b8-p1010448We detoured. We traveled in unexpected manners. We changed course as needed, still focused on the final destination, but the journey took lovely twists and turns we would not have found had we believed our original itinerary decisions to be unchangeable.

Yet so often, we refuse to start because we’re not sure we will finish the course exactly as planned.

–Why go to college? I’m just going to change my mind on what I want to do.

–Why start writing a book? I may find out I was all wrong half way through.

–Why volunteer for this organization? I may not have the time or passion for it later.

Yes, this could all be true. But does changing your mind down the road totally negate the part of the journey you already took? Does the fact that we never got to Geneva toss out all that we experienced in Paris and Barcelona?

We refuse to make a decision because we’re afraid it may not be the perfect solution forever. Here’s the revelation–

Nothing ever is.

img_2769Everything adapts. But if we fear starting because we may not end where we thought, we’ll never get to Paris at all. And what we learn in Paris may have been the whole point. That, and what we’ll learn in the detour.

In fact, when faced with something that I can’t make a decision on, I always ask myself two questions:

Will I get the chance to do this again?

Will I regret not doing it now?

If the first answer is no and the second yes, you know the decision that has to be made.

There–actually eight questions to help make decisions in the new year. I hope and pray you find them useful in the coming months. I’d love to hear about your decisions and risks for 2017!

Do You Have Five Years? Five Useful Questions for Decision Making

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This is week five, the final, the ultimate, the World Series last game (Oh, they have seven don’t they? Which sport has five? Whatever.) week of talking about Gretchen Rubin’s questions to ask when you have a difficult decision staring you in the face.

Fateful Question #5 (This is it, folks):

If I were looking back at this decision, five years from now, what will I wish I’d done?

I actually do use this one a lot. I use it in parenting. If I say yes or no here, what will it matter in five years?

I use it in ministry. If I choose to go in this direction, what might the cost or gain be in five years?

I’m thinking maybe I need to use it in my eating habits, because imagining my weight gain in five years just might get me to reconsider that brownie making its way into my mouth completely on its own power.

But since I’m a strategist by nature, I use this question to help clarify–what really matters in this decision?

IMG_0057Case in point—Some years ago, Child #2 asked my advice in college choosing. Go to the school seven hours away from home or the one fifteen minutes from home? Mother’s from-the-gut answer: Um, there’s a choice there? Go to the hinterlands of Minnesota or stay here with your loving loopy family where you can do laundry for free and pilfer pantry items at will? Really? Im not seeing the conflict here.

I desperately wanted to give her the answer—Stay. Here. With. Me. Because I did not want to lose my baby.

But I didn’t. Because if I asked, “Five years from now, what will I wish I’d done?” the answer would be, “I’d wish I had let her make her own decision and go where God was leading her to go.” I knew that five years from then, she would be gone anyway, and she had to be going in the right direction for her. So my decision was to keep my mouth shut.

Taking your hands off the wheel is a scary decision. Asking yourself, “Five years from now, what will I wish I’d done?” helps lessen the scary factor, because it forces you to examine the long-term outcome and gain some perspective on the decision.

Perspective.

Such a key word. Paralyzing decisions become less so when we stop focusing on the wall in front of us and look farther out, envisioning where we want to be if we decide to scale it. Or where we could still be if we don’t. That’s the alternative. Sometimes you may envision the future of a choice and realize, “You know, I think I don’t really want to go there.” Or, “Hey, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to still be here.” Good or bad, you’ve gained perspective.

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Finally, five questions to ask yourself when faced with a risky or uncomfortable decision:

  1. What am I waiting for?
  2. What would I do if I wasn’t scared?
  3. What steps would make things easier?
  4. What would I do if I had all the time and money in the world?
  5. If I were looking back at this decision, five years from now, what will I wish I’d done?

I think I may have one more of my own to add. Next week. Sorry—that’s a teaser designed to get you to come back. That’s how this whole gig works, dontcha know. (Why yes, I do have Wisconsin roots, why do you ask?)

Whatever you’re feeling fearful or paralyzed about right now, I help they help you figure out whether it’s a yes or a no on that decision. Either way, make the decision. What are you waiting for?

All the Money in the World–Five Useful Questions for Making Decisions

37cee-p1020775See, I knew that title would get you to read.

This is week four of talking about Gretchen Rubin’s questions to ask when you have a decision to make that look a little . . . iffy. Scary. Risky. Un-com-fort-a-ble. How can we make better decisions in 2017? Especially when we’re scared?

Fateful Question #4:

What would I do if I had all the time and money in the world?

Well, at least this one is fun to ask. It reminds me of the game I used to play with the kids when I wanted them to stop whining while helping me with chores. “If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?” The top vote getters at the time were: “Feed all the hungry people in the world” and “buy a giraffe.” We had diverse interests.

So, what does asking this question do for your decision-making capability?

It tells you where you would put all your effort if you could do anything.

If I had all the time and money in the world, would I still write? Yes, I would, and I would fund a giant marketing campaign to get my work actually seen by the Amazon-buying public. That and travel the world, which I could do as a writer since all I need is a laptop, an internet source, and a chai latte.

This tells me I would put all my heart and soul into writing even if it wasn’t a job. I would take the risks of rejection and bad reviews because I wanted to. That’s a powerful statement about what you truly want out of life and are willing to risk for.

This question tells you where you would put all your heart and soul even if it wasn’t a job.

How does it help you make a decision?

If I know what I really want to do, I am freed to start making plans to find a way to do it.

If I ask myself, “Would I still want this if I had all the money and time in the world?” and the answer is, “No, I would fly to Fiji and drink coconut milk and marry a tattoo artist,” perhaps the decision you’re looking at is something you aren’t that attached to. Or you have really unrealistic life goals.

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Now, we may still do things we don’t want to immediately do.

Sometimes, we decide to do what we don’t really want to do short term–so that we do get a longer term goal.

Or, we do it to help someone who needs it because that’s what decent people do, even if they don’t want to.

Sometimes, the instant payoff sucks, like getting up with the baby three times during the night and being projectile vomited upon every time, but the long-term is well worth it. (Having said baby become a best friend and the joy of your life. Plus help with the cooking.)

So, there are days we do what we might not do if we had all the time and money in the world, simply because there are other more important goals at work.

But there are other decisions that are tougher. Other choices that would be good to have some guidelines on, guidelines like this one.

Long-term, if you could do the thing you dream of, no obstacles, would you? That gives you something to focus on while making a decision.

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6.21

Then back to Question #1—What are you waiting for?

One Small Step — Five Useful Questions for Making Decisions

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We’re revisiting some posts on decision making as a good way to start 2017. If you could ask five questions that would make decisions easier, would you use them? I would, and I do. I’ve borrowed the questions from Gretchen Rubin, but the embellishments, for better or worse, are my own.

For the first two questions, see the last two weeks. And now,

Fateful Question #3.

“When I’m reluctant to take a risk or face something uncomfortable”–the next important question to ask is:

What steps would make things easier?

Oh, this one is so important. So often, we don’t tackle a decision because it’s completely overwhelming. Our family has this issue—big time. We have trouble with big, looming “things that must be done” because we know they are enormous, and we don’t know where to start. So that makes them scary.
If you’re like us, you know what happens. Nothing. Nada. Zip. We look at that big scary hairy thing and think, “Yeah, maybe I’ll stalk my friend’s new boyfriend on Facebook for a while and get back to this one.” Except we never do.

Enter question #3–What steps would make things easier?

Ah, manageable, small, steps. I can do that, right? This works in big and small ways.
For instance, you know what happens when you tell your kid, “Clean your room!” He goes to his room, moves two things from the floor to the top of the dresser, then flops down on the bed and plays Xbox. Not because he wants to disobey you (although that may be in the mix, too), but because he has no idea how to approach something as humungous as, “Clean your room.”

Small, manageable tasks.

Pick up your books. Make your bed. Clean the fish tank. See if the fish is still alive. Bring the dishes to the kitchen. Flush the fish.
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Say I am staring at a blank page for a proposal I know is due, and it may just be the best-selling NYT-list book that gets me that trip to New Zealand, but I can’t think of anything better than “Publish my book because it’s amazing and — Squirrel! Tree! Monkeys in trees– playing with squirrels! Banana!!!”

Am I going to give the whole thing up and go drown my sorrows at Starbucks?

No. Well, maybe. At least that last part. But I won’t give up. I’ll break it down into steps.

1. Research topic.

2. Look for competing books.

3. Brainstorm chapter outline.

4. Go get Starbucks.

5. Make raspberry truffle brownies.

6. Surf Pinterest for a better brownie recipe.

                 Off. Track.

7. Get back with the program.

What steps would make things easier? For you? Today? To do that big thing that scares you?

  • Make a list.
  • Put it in order.
  • Plan when and how each step will get done.
  • Get what you need to do it.
  • Do it.
  • Celebrate at Starbucks.
Now,

Back to Question #1—What are you waiting for?

But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3.12-14

the Amalfi Coast and Swiss bank accounts–Five Useful Questions for Making Decisions

 

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As promised last week, this week we are asking Fateful Question #2.

What do you mean you didn’t read last week? What’s with that? Get thee henceforth to the archives and read it. Or you just won’t understand.

In Happier at Home,  Gretchen Rubin writes about the five questions she asks herself “when I’m reluctant to take a risk or face something uncomfortable.” We’re exploring these questions for the new year.

Fateful Question #2 is:

What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

For instance . . .

If I wasn’t scared of cliffs, I’d drive the Amalfi Coast. (Oh, and if I had a Swiss bank account. But no matter; we’re dreaming, right?)

If I wasn’t scared of spiders I’d buy a tarantula and call it Fluffy and feed it and read it bedtime stories. OK, probably not, because scared or not, I still prefer pets that sit on my lap and cuddle and purr rather than stare at me with six billion eyes (give or take).

If I wasn’t scared of extreme political wackos I would . . . wait. That is a perfectly justifiable fear. Never mind. Step away from those people . . . slowly.

But the question matters.

What would I do if I wasn’t scared? It matters because

if we can pinpoint what scares us about a decision

+ if we know what we would do without that fear in the picture,

= then we could see clearly what we really want to do.

If, barring fear of cliffs, I would drive the Amalfi Coast, then I know I really want to find a way to make that happen.

If I thought spiders were simply misunderstood cute little things with too many legs, would I then feel the burning need to buy a tarantula? Only if I needed to feed a Komodo Dragon. So, taking fear out of the equation, I know I still do not ever want a tarantula. Ever.

So, I’ve figured out what I would do if I was not scared in both these situations.

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But, Big Decisions

These, obviously, are not big decisions. The big ones matter much more. Should I change jobs? Should I volunteer overseas? Should I write a book? What should I major in? Ask yourself—what would I do if I took fear out of the picture? Major in something I love? Get my passport? Change careers? Commit my heart and my time to a person or a cause?

Answering ‘yes’ doesn’t mean you need to do it. This is only one of the Fateful Questions. But what it will do is help you see what you really, really want. Do you really want to go overseas? Maybe this position still isn’t the answer, but at least you know the direction you’ll probably turn, because you’ve clarified what you love.

What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

I know for me, right now, the answer is write things that scare me and pastor this church like it’s the most important place in the world, because it is. Even when I don’t feel capable. Even when the risks I know God wants me to take there are not understood. Even whenI’m deeply afraid of letting people see my work and my “real me.” Even when I’m afraid I’m doing a mediocre job and the thought of being “just mediocre” terrifies me. Even when . . . anything. Because it’s what I’m called to do, and I’ll do it scared or not.

275bd-img_4545What would you do if you weren’t scared?

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble? Psalm 27.1
Next week—Fateful Question #3.