I’m in the middle of reading, The Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, one of my favorite bloggers. In the book, she tackles the idea of biblical womanhood by taking a full year to examine what the Bible actually says about being a woman and what we in a modern culture should do about it. She wears a head covering, grows out her hair, dresses as modestly as possible, learns to sew and cook, praises her husband at the city gates, and even spends a few nights in a tent during her period.
Rachel Held Evans challenges my thinking. She calls people out on the carpet, and she handles tough subjects (and the backlash) with grace. Plus, she loves Tina Fey almost as much as I do, which always puts people on my team.
I just finished reading her chapter “May: Fertility, Quivers Full of Arrows and Sippy Cups.” Not a mother herself, Evans spends much of the month reading about motherhood, searching for the answers about why her maternal instincts hadn’t kicked in, and then she finally decides to post about her fears of becoming a mom on her blog. After posting about all of her fears, she says this:
“As always, I felt a strange sense of relief upon giving all those amorphous fears a shape and parading them before the public like wild animals on a circus train. Blogging is an inexpensive form of therapy if you do it right, if you use it to tell the truth about something other than what you had for dinner that night.”
I grew up in an “if you don’t talk about it, it will go away” household. Bills are behind? “Hmm…I’ll watch television.” The fridge is empty? “Let’s go out to eat!” Laundry needs to be done? “You can wear those jeans again.”
Add to that, I was a baby sister; my brothers were eight and almost ten when I was born. Naturally, I hated to get caught not knowing the answer to something. Doing so meant facing flailing arms, sighs, and eye rolls with an exasperated, “NO! BONE HEAD!” thrown in for good measure.
Obviously, ignoring fears and hiding my ignorance throughout childhood impacted how I dealt with fears as an adult. Speaking fears into the air caused them to become normal, every day things, rather than crises.
Once in a while, I take a moment in my Evernote, and I just type out all the things that scare me. Somehow this dislodges the words I need. Getting the fears out of my head, naming them, really beats most of it down. I take my anxieties and put words to them, even number the fears in a list. Suddenly, those fears become, at most, a to-do list. By calling them out, I deflate their power from crippling inaction. I harness those fears into a task at hand, something I can easily cross off.
Starting this blog last year came, in many ways, as a method for tackling my fears. I’ve always been a writer, and I’ve known for a long time that I should be writing, but for years I would use excuses or feigned modesty not to pursue it (I can “aw shucks” my way out of a lot of courageous steps).
Fear says, “You’ll never become a respected writer. Who would pay you anything for your words?”
My goal, “Find my loyal audience. Speak to them.”
Fear says, “Why don’t you just go back to teaching? You could double your income!”
My goal, “Choose the life you want. Don’t let circumstances choose you.”
Fear says, “Why are you trying to lose weight again? Haven’t you failed at that before?”
My goal, “Eat healthy foods. Exercise. Feel good about your body and what’s going in it.”
And ultimately, because this is my greatest fear…
Fear says, “Aren’t you afraid you’ll look stupid?”
I say, “These are just goals. I’m setting the bar high. Let’s see how far I can go.”
So, a couple of questions for you, friends:
Are you tackling fears, facing them, speaking them into to-do lists? Or are you hiding from them, ignoring them, letting them control you?
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