Do you ever experience fear?
I can hear you laughing at that question from across the internet. You’re probably laughing because I just asked an ultra-obvious question. Asking if another person feels fear is like wondering if they breathe. The answer is, “OF COURSE!”
We all experience fear - probably everyday. It’s this annoying nag like the mosquitoes at twilight on a summer evening - constantly bugging us and even when we forget it’s there it leaves these lasting impressions on us. Some of these impressions are big and some are small.
When talking about fear, it likely isn’t some grand revelation that this is something that we all experience regularly. Something else that also isn’t a new idea? Getting rid of our fear isn’t really an option, but learning to approach it differently may just change our lives.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” If you’re like me, maybe you encountered this quote for the first time in The Princess Diaries (and maybe that moment in the movie made your eyes well up with emotion). However cheesy it may be, Princess Mia and her story can teach us something about fear. In a moment when her fear made her feel like running away from something scary, she decided to stay even though it was scary.
Before you close out this post because this is old news, let me tell you that I have to remind myself of this about 74,940,028,420 times a day (okay maybe not quite that many). Maybe we could all use a reminder that fear will always be there, but we can learn how to live in spite of it. We have the power to overcome it. We can change even if it’s scary and hard and awkward.
And you know what? It won’t always be some big movie moment where we defiantly stand against fear as the soundtrack swells in the background. It’s in the everyday little moments of fear and decision that we make progress. In these moments we get to decide to do the uncomfortable or weird or awkward thing that is scary, but is the right thing. These little moments are often how we show fear who’s boss.
My mom had this magnet in our kitchen for a while that said “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” I experience these small moments of fear all throughout my every day, but this reminder always feels like an achievable goal. I don’t have to fully conquer every fear right this moment, but I can do one scary thing today.
Maybe that means striking up conversation with the neighbor I have never more than smiled at. Maybe that is reaching out to someone who could help me with my business. Maybe it means having an awkward conversation with a friend. Maybe I could just start the writing project I have been avoiding for fear of failing.
We allow our seemingly small fears to impact our decisions. A bunch of small decisions made in fear add up to a big impact on our lives. Perhaps, doing one scary thing everyday could have a big impact, too.
Maybe overcoming our little fears and refusing to allow comfort to control us will change the world, one little scary decision at a time. Think of it as an experiment. Who knows? Our world could look a lot different if we all tried to do a small scary thing each day.
Each day is filled with ups and downs. We have good days and bad days, and days that are just “meh.” Throughout each day, there is one tiny thing that always manages to bring me a little glimmer of joy. It’s nothing crazy or weird or costly. It’s this daily task that could seem mundane, but always promises to bring me at least a small amount of joy.
That thing I’m talking about? Checking the mail.
My mailbox holds this special power. No matter how my day is going, I am always excited to get to my mailbox. Most days I open it up to find junk mail. Some days it holds nothing. But sometimes, on a special day, it holds a letter from a friend or an ornately-decorated letter from my sister or a coupon that is truly exciting or a package.
These special days of mail are the exception in my mailbox discoveries, but these days exist, and their existence brings me daily expectation, anticipation, and hope.
Hope. Maybe that’s where the magic of my mailbox lies. I think I love looking in my mailbox everyday because it brings me hope. It teaches me to look beyond what is normal and hope for something abnormal. My mailbox isn’t unreliable. I know that most days offer sales fliers and junk mail, but there always comes a day when that changes. There always comes a unique day where my mailbox offers a card or a gift or a postcard. These days are special and fun and magical. These days are days to hope for. These days hold so much everyday power that they bring me hope every single time I go to open that mailbox.
The mailbox for me is a signpost. It is this tiny, seemingly insignificant thing that holds daily hope. It teaches me to dream and to believe that joy is coming (even if that joy is a simple postcard). This power of even a tiny daily hope is not lost on me. You see, my mailbox is a lesson in dreaming and hoping and not giving up.
I never give up on hoping in my mailbox, and I don’t want to give up on hoping for the bigger things, too. I know that in Christ, there is always hope. This is a hope that will certainly never disappoint. I always have hope that the victory is God’s, all injustice and mourning and grief will be erased, and His perfect plan will come to pass.
So, maybe my mailbox isn’t magical, but it does teach me a big lesson about hope.
What is a signpost of hope in your life?
Let me start by saying that my husband is an arborist and extreme tree enthusiast. We can’t go anywhere without pausing to look at the trees and notice their magnificence. I don’t naturally take in the grandeur of these ever-present leafy friends, but by his side I have learned to take a moment (or seven) and notice their magic.
Today, I was observing a Beech tree that is particularly loved by my hubby. It is just across the street from where we live, so we stop to look at this tree often (read: my husband often stops and I follow suit, sometimes willingly, and sometimes with an air of annoyance depending on how much patience I have mustered that day).
What I noticed today about this Beech tree was the complete and utter beauty of its leaves. This was the first time since the leaves appeared this spring that I really saw them. They are this lush green with some red that is almost iridescent in the sunlight. Today, those leaves took my breath away.
Then I started wondering about what really took my breath away. What makes those leaves so amazing and breathtakingly beautiful? Why did I notice them?
I began to think about how those leaves might not seem quite so magnificent without the massive trunk and intricately intertwined branches of this impressive tree. Maybe the leaves were beautiful, but they’re beauty was compounded by the structure holding them up. The structure behind those leaves makes them all the more beautiful.
That realization seems profound. You see, as a human being, I crave structure and routine in my life, but the spontaneous spirit inside me often decides to rebel against these desires.
Structure feels like something boring and ugly and plain. I know that a regular rhythm and routine in my life is good and necessary. I know that having a normal schedule makes me feel more at peace, but I sometimes wonder if my structure is making me miss out on some of the most beautiful things in life.
That friendly neighborhood Beech tree taught me something today. It taught me that structure and routine and schedule and organization might seem plain, and maybe they sometimes are, but beauty can certainly come from structure. If that tree didn’t take time, to build its structure and assemble an impressive array of branches, those leaves would not have a space to display beauty.
That tree taught me that there is a place for beauty in structure. It taught me that the work and effort of building structure in my life are worth it because they are making room for beauty to be displayed.
Today, that tree helped me to see that structure in my life doesn’t just have to be a “should”; it can be a “want to,” because I surely want my life to be a place the world sees beauty. I’m not getting rid of all spontaneity in my life, but I do have a new admiration and respect for routine. Routine might get a bad rap, but it can be a conduit of incredible beauty.
Hi, I'm Emma!
A Maryland girl who moved to Washington state seeking adventure, I adore writing and delight in sharing my favorite things. I celebrate whimsy and you can find me doing a happy dance when something really strikes my fancy.