When I visited Paris two summers ago, taking the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower held little appeal for me. Although I’m not exactly terrified of heights, I'd much rather avoid them. Standing at the foot of the tower, it seemed so enormous. Much more massive than it appeared in pictures. I only went to the first-level observation deck, but as I walked along and looked down, I got a little dizzy. But when I looked out, the view was quite different. All I could see was beauty. Paris was all around me.
As I talked about my trip with a friend recently, he thought I had definitely missed out by not going to the top of the tower. Since he’s extremely adventurous, he told me I'd gone all the way to Paris so why not experience it all?
But sometimes I listen to the loud voices of my fears. I hear them telling me to stay where it’s safe. I hear them warn me not to get in a precarious spot. I hear them shout that it’s too risky to go out on that limb since there's a lot that could go wrong out there.
Fear of disappointment tells me to avoid having any hopes so they can’t be dashed.
Fear of regretting what I’ll say tells me to keep quiet so I won’t make a mistake.
Fear of not being perfect tells me to control it all so everything will meet my unrealistic expectations.
Fear of looking foolish tells me to stay guarded to avoid being vulnerable in my friendships and relationships.
But those voices of fear don’t tell the whole story. I can choose to listen to them beat a drumbeat over my life. Or I can lean a little closer to listen to what God is whispering to me.
Last week I had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. I always enjoy our time together but I just didn't feel like sharing. I was tired of talking. I was thinking about postponing it. Then I heard the words, This lunch isn't about you. I thought about ignoring that nudge but instead I kept the lunch on my calendar.
When I asked my friend how she'd been, she said she was in the middle of a difficult situation but she wasn't sure she wanted to share it with me. But we both decided to talk and promised to pray. She sent me a text as soon as she left the restaurant that she prayed for me as she drove out of the parking lot. And I felt ashamed that I had almost let my selfish feelings take the lead. Even though I tried to encourage her, I left our lunch feeling more encouraged by her words than I had in weeks.
I wonder when I'll realize that God always has more for me than I can imagine.
When I tell God that I don’t have anything anyone would want to read, he unearths a long-ago memory or brings an idea to mind. And I start to think that I have a story worth telling.
When I tell God that I don’t have what it takes and I can’t do it, he whispers that he is enough. And I start to believe that He’s given me what I need to live out what’s required of me today.
When I tell God that what he’s given me is too hard, he whispers that I’m strong in him. And I start to believe that he’s beside me in what I’m walking through.
If I had listened to my fears, I wouldn't have traveled to Paris. If I had listened to what fear says, I would never have started writing my thoughts and posting them on the internet for all to read on a blog. If I had listened to fear's clamoring, I would have never said yes to a first date. But in taking all those first steps forward, fear takes a step back.
Instead of looming large and blocking my way, fear shrinks back to the periphery, back to the edges of my life. It's still there, but just a shadow of its former self. A poor imitation of something large and powerful instead of casting a shadow over my life as big as the Eiffel Tower.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was what I was most excited to see. At lunch in the first-level restaurant I found it hard to believe that I was actually sitting inside this world-famous monument. As I took my first taste of an exquisite French dessert, the view on my plate was pretty spectacular.
And now when I remember that extraordinary panorama, I think the next time I go to Paris I’d like to take my fears for a ride and see what the view is like from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
I'm linking up with the wonderful writers over at God-sized Dreams today. Click the image to read their stories about their dreams and their fears.