The Shaky Life of the Nearly Courageous


“You are afraid to admit that you need me if I don’t feel the same way.” – The Proposal, Alternate Ending. (Can be seen on Youtube)

I am one of those people who jumps ahead to the last chapter of a book in order to decide if it is worth reading. I like to make sure the story has a happy ending before I invest my time. Ruins it for me in all honesty and I’m learning I can’t do that with life, even though I try.

I love the movie The Proposal.  I wanted to be that woman when I grew up. Not the needy one, but the one who had it all together and ran the world or at least a major corporation. Yep, never happened. Didn’t stop me from wanting it though. I can still remember being 22 and riding the train in Chicago wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit and reading the Wall Street Journal looking down on the people my age sitting around me in jeans and sneakers wondering when they were going to start being adults. I wasn’t an adult, I was a terrified kid living on my own in a big city for the first time, playing dress up and hoping no one noticed. Truth is, if it hadn’t been for the two people I let befriend me, I’m not sure how I would have survived. Even though I didn’t fully realize it myself, I needed them I just didn’t trust them enough to tell them that.

Everyone has trust issues of some kind, it’s just that some of us are better at hiding them than others. Mine happen to be glaringly obvious. If I’m not trying to read your mind and tell you what I think you want to hear, I’m being cute, trying to make you laugh, shaking like a leaf, or running for the hills. I used to think I had the whole world fooled until a friend pointed them out a few years ago. I am not amused, I mean it’s bad enough that I have trust issues, do they have to be so obvious?

Going from a mommy/garden blogger to a woman who writes about over coming fear, while still shaking in my boots, is an interesting journey. I’d rather learn in a closet, and then show the world how brilliant I am than learn in front of an audience. The only thing worse than my glaringly obvious trust issues is my pride.

Will you really like me and the things I’m doing if you know I am terrified every step of the way? That is a legitimate question for a recovering approval junkie like myself. That’s where my pride really takes a kick in the proverbial teeth. In the final assessment, I just want to be liked, by everyone, all the time even if it kills us both. Talk about an unrealistic expectation. I don’t even like myself all the time.

My journey as a Christian writer has had more starts, stops, skinned knees and bruised pride than I ever expected when I started back in 2002. My original post-children plans back then included being a deaconess or a women’s ministry leader, and when that didn’t turn out the way I expected I found myself doing a lot of soul-searching and sifting through a junk yard of need. I erroneously believed that if I could prove I belong than I can stop apologizing for breathing air. If I prove I belong, I can stop being afraid. That’s a lie by the way. The only way I can stop being afraid is to do the things that scare me the most.

I threw out everything, including my original blog during my soul-searching snit fit and started over from scratch.  No great loss I assure you. My original writings are nothing more than a mask. They are things I thought people would want to hear; 12 steps to this seven steps to that. You know the drill: How to be a better Christian, how to be a better wife, how to keep pretending.  Then I started reading books by people like Donald Miller and Anne Lamott and I discovered a whole new world. I discovered Christians who were willing to be transparent without apologizing. Their courage fueled mine. Granted, my original transparency contained more of what is wrong with my tradition and this world as I see it today than anything else, but it was a start.

I no longer cared if you liked me or not, I just wanted to be heard. Know anybody like that? People like that are really difficult to be around for too long.  One of my comedy friends remembers my porcupine self back then. I had a bite as she says.  I was sarcastic and nasty and ready to pick a fight with anyone and I picked a lot of fights. And if I wasn’t picking fights, I was stirring pots.  Once I started meeting people who loved me back instead of fighting with me, I really freaked out. Anger is a voice that I used for too long. Anger is also a mask for fear, did you know that?

“The hardest thing about loving someone is having the courage to let them love you back.” – The Wedding Date

Masks can be admired, but never fully loved.  Rather than covering up my fears with anger or over achieving, I decided to start owning them and writing about them. I had to unlearn everything I thought I knew about life and start over. Learning something new is awkward and challenging to say the least. I had to learn how to admit I need someone without being sure they felt the same way. I also had to find the courage to start letting people love me back. I’m not fully there yet, but I’m working on it.

Instead of passing on conferences that intimidated me, I started attending them. Instead of distancing myself from the people there, or faking my way through it to prove I belong, I owned my fears out loud and jumped in and risked letting myself be known. “I’m here and I’m terrified, but I’m here.” I did an open mic at a comedy conference and told a room full of professional comics, I’m scared to death but let’s do this. At which point I started hyperventilating and had to start over. I will admit that weirded people out a bit at first but then someone whispered in my ear later that night, “I’m scared too, nice to meet you.” and I made a new friend.

I used to believe people would think less of me if they knew how afraid I really was, then I realized that I’m not the only one who is afraid. Whether we admit it or not, there is something out there that scares all of us a little and that’s okay. Maybe that’s why my readership picked up so much once I started admitting, “I’m scared too, nice to meet you.”

Life lived under the covers of your bed isn’t life and it isn’t living. Don’t just write in a way that scares you a little, live in a way that scares you a little even if your fears and trust issues are so glaringly obvious that you have to shake. Even if your pride makes you want to run for the hills, hold fast. Shake until you stop shaking, close your eyes and breathe.

“You are safe. Let go of the past and remember what a wonderful woman you are.” Also from The Wedding Date (Hands down my favorite scene of the whole movie). 

4 thoughts on “The Shaky Life of the Nearly Courageous

  1. I realize that this reply is quite long after you posted this – but having just read it had to reply and say that it is powerful, raw and REAL. Thank you. I have no doubt that this has (and will) touch many readers! You are so not alone. We are all ‘afraid’ and yes, anger is definitely a mask for fear. Your writing is beautiful. Keep up the great work. A book we love is Brene Browns ‘Daring Greatly’. Sounds like you don’t really need to read it – you already are ;). We all are…. TT

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW…This isn’t a “blog” entry; it’s an open window. I, for one, have to say that I love you for who you are and not for what you do, have done, will do or want to do. 🙂

    Like

    1. Love you too — Being a Turbo and your friend is a huge blessing. — We all know the verses about fear not, and yet I believe if anyone says they are never afraid of anything, ever then they are lying. Everyone is afraid of something — the trick is to feel the fear and do it anyway. And so this has become my little slice of cyber-space honesty. I rather enjoy it. Opening windows to fresh air (truth) feels good.There is a freedom in it.

      Like

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