One year ago, I chose Fearless as my One Word for the upcoming year.
My year to say yes to all that He asks of me. To love fearlessly. To lavish grace without expectation. To speak the truth even if my voice shakes. To step out of the boat, in the middle of the storm, onto rough waters, and know that I will stand, eyes fixed on the author and perfect of my faith. To mother these beautiful tinies out of my best hopes instead of my worst fears. To confront evil, to speak out for my sisters that are silenced, to work and rabble-rouse, to piss a few people off and sing freedom to the rest, to give from everything that I have. This is my year for walls-crumbling-down, for wholehearted living, for art and yes and mess and doing it scared. If we’re all crowded on the wall, waiting for something to change, I’ll be the first one to jump, you can watch me go.
If I could have foreseen just how completely, utterly, and entirely God was planning on calling my bluff on that one, I might have picked another word. (Something like “Rich” or “Famous” perhaps….)
As the year unfolded, I began to realise that my little nudge to choose Fearless was more of a gigantic shove off a cliff by the Holy Spirit, a sort of dinner bell clanging “COME AND GET IT!” for almost every fear and insecurity I’ve petted, hidden, and indulged in my life.
Most of my fears are rooted in my insecurities. Some of them were silly and inconsequential, hardly worth noting. Others were rooted in my theology and identity, holding me back.
Even though I cannot run, even if chased, I decided to actually run a 5K for Mercy Ministries of Canada. And I did it. (I promptly barfed and collapsed afterwards, as if it were a marathon, but whatever. I did it.
I signed with a literary agent.
I learned that sometimes the most fearless thing we can do is keep showing up in our own lives.
I decided that, even if the world doesn’t need another book, I need to write one. And I decided to do it anyway.
I did my first video blog to introduce my book Jesus Feminist to you. For many of you, it was the first time you had ever heard my voice. It took me 38 takes to come across as “breezy” and I don’t like my voice very much, but I did it.
I’m slowly learning not to care what others think about me – and so I danced in the grocery store.
I wrote a book proposal and survived my fair share of rejections, a few very pointed ones!
I signed a two-book deal with a Simon & Schuster’s Howard Books.
I wrote a book.
I left my little family for the first time – once to go away for a weekend with friends, and then for a week to Haiti.
I took the risks of community and trusting again, in my writing community (here’s where I was the first one to jump!) and in my “real” walking-around life right here, particularly with intentional church.
I got a new tattoo
I decided to be fearless about aging.
I learned it’s a radical act to stay right where you are sometimes.
I closed down emergingmummy.com and rebranded under my very own name, coming out of the avatar world.
I decided to stop making excuses for not engaging personally with poverty relief and orphan care. And together we raised the money to build a school in Haiti.
I tried not to let fear (of the unknown or “worst scenario”) govern the decisions we make about raising our tinies.
I wrote prophetically a couple of times. (for example)
I confronted one of my greatest insecurities: speaking in public/on video about things I really, really care about.
I figured out that I can’t create if I’m always worried about what the critics will say about me and my theology.
I tried to write about divisive topics boldly with strong language and love. (For example)
I finally shared the slobbering video we shot in Haiti about the school.
I did a live-stream broadcast online with Help One Now.
I accepted my first two yes-for-real speaking engagements …. (more on those later, promise).
I even curated a little Fearless board on Pinterest to keep me encouraged.
And there were a thousand daily and a few sacred private moments of choosing fearlessness.
I used to think that conquering my Fears will be a lot more sexy than it really is.
I thought I would be rewarded for my efforts by a good experience.I thought that if I said yes to writing a book, that the words will flow easily. I thought that if I got up my courage to try intentional community again, that I would be met with kindred spirits and casseroles and a welcoming committee. I thought that if I said yes to Haiti, that I would not be as wrecked and hurting and powerless, as I feel right now. I thought that if I say yes to speaking on camera or on a stage for a good reason, that I would not lose my crap and cry the entire way through.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
Sometimes the first step is just as awful as you imagined.
But you do it anyway.
And you keep doing it, over and over, until the root of that fear is dug out of the rocky hard soil, and you are free of it at last, and I believe God is making something beautiful out of it all.
I don’t think I’m fearless now. Not by a long shot. I am braver. I am practicing fearlessness, over and over, with the hope it takes deep hold in my life. I want to carry this word with me, for the rest of my life, every day. This has profoundly changed me.
Perfect love casts out fear.
There is no fear in love.
(I’ll have my One Word for 2013 post up soon. You can participate in the #OneWord365 community here.)