In my twenties, my biggest fear was compromise, but not in the way that it sounds. I feared living a compromised life, one that reeked of settling for less than who I believed I was capable of being. So, I prayed lots of anguished prayers for direction and wisdom, for trust and faith and strength to carry out my purpose in this life, and then I did my best to wait. But waiting has never been a natural gift I've possessed, and so I also did a lot of digging and planning and reaching for those faraway places of my destiny as I understood it. For almost a decade, my faraway sights were set on Africa, and I did the dance of trust and impatience trying to help God get me there.
And then, on the crest of the wave I thought would carry me there - or at least miles further in - I fell off the board into the raging surf. My Papa died, my lofty post-graduate school plans disintegrated, my priorities shifted like the earth's plates, and all those plans and dreams and identities disappeared deep in the ocean. I plunged, head first, into the fears that lurked for all those years.
Compromise. Failure. Death of someone I loved most of all. Loss of dreams, of confidence, of a sense of direction, of who I believed I was and how I'd defined my worth for years. Abandonment. The end of a relationship that, at the time, I believed would lead to marriage.
Loss of God as I knew him.
I didn't know then, falling into my fears was grace. That I thought I would drown in this sea of fears and sorrow - and I didn't. That paddling out in that wild, raging ocean forced me to face what had been driving me forward, relentless and exhausted all these years, unable to stop and look at myself in the mirror as I was and call it good, the way God did. That to stay afloat I had to strip down to the bare skin of my soul clinging to him, nothing else, and find that this was all I ever needed.
And yes, fear can cripple the soul and rob the living. But I found, too, that tumbling into fear can expose the truth and cleanse the cobwebs and shake off the things that weigh heavy. To free the hands from grasping at anything other than real life - because when you're paddling in the water, you need those hands open.
It's funny, now, how I'm a barista and a writer and the wife of a man I'd never imagined myself with - not in Africa, but here in Seattle - and none of these things make up who I really am. All because of that headlong plunge into fear and the God who gripped me in the waters and whispered fierce love.
I'll never fail you.
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Linking up with Lisa-Jo for another Five-Minute Friday post.