I heard this quote in church on Easter Sunday. It was crowded, every seat filled at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, with every kind of church goer; the ‘never misses a service’ the ‘only attends on Easter and Christmas’ and then me, along with my daughter, the ‘we try to make it every Sunday, but it’s more like every other Sunday, or every other, other Sunday’.
“The starting point of faith is fear.”
The pastor of Elevation is Steven Furtick. He’s not your typical church leader. He is handsome, young, and buff. He’s also passionate about what he preaches. This particular sermon was about finding the way to grace through our failures.
If I look back on all of the things that have ever worked out in my life, those things that I am proud of, those elements that make me who I am…the starting point of all of those times has been fear. Fear of failing, fear of changing, fear of the new, the different, the unknown, the fall. But at each one of these points, I pushed myself to go forward.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was afraid of being a mother. Actually, I was afraid of failing as a mother. I didn’t know if I could nourish a child in the way that it should be nourished; soul, body, and mind. Would I be a positive and guiding force in her life? Would I know what to do if she got sick? Would she grow to be a decent human being with me as her role model?
When I moved to Las Vegas after living most of my life in Southern California, to pursue a relationship, I was afraid. Afraid of leaping into love, afraid of trusting another person, afraid of giving up the safety of what I’d always known.
When that relationship ended, I was afraid of moving on and being a single mother again. I was afraid of finding a home that I could afford, and of taking care of not only my daughter’s school and extracurricular activities, but her medical needs too, while holding down a full-time job. No safety net, no relief if something went wrong.
When I found love again, this time with the man who would become my husband, I was incredibly frightened. Would this person break our hearts? Would he let us down? Would I be able to let go and let him love us? Would I be able to lean on him as an equal partner?
And when we moved, this time as a family, cross-country to North Carolina. I was afraid of starting all over again. Afraid of working for a huge corporation, in the financial industry, afraid of being a failure. It was frightening to think of how we would all make new friends, how I would find the right doctors for my daughter, how she would transition from a small private school to a large public one. How our careers would play out in this new city.
The point to all of this is, that every single time I’d been afraid—I was actually positioning myself to move forward. This forward momentum only worked because I had faith that it would work. I believed, every time, that what lay on the other side of fear was freedom.
I’m sure that throughout my journey, there have been naysayers who have scoffed at me behind my back. I’m sure that at times, my journey hasn’t made sense from the outside looking in.
I’m also sure that it doesn’t matter what others think of my journey. It’s mine to take. If I fall, and I do fall sometimes, I know that I’ll get back up and keep going. My daughter shares this mentality. She’s smart and kind and compassionate. She’s a better version of the vision of who I dreamed she’d be. I think it has actually helped that she’s seen me fearful, seen me fall, and watched me move forward in faith. And that, isn’t a failure. It’s a bona-fide success.