I was too scared. Scared of what people might think. (I don’t exactly look like the tattoo type, you know.) Scared it would hurt too much. Scared I’d regret it later.
But since last month, a friend’s tattoo keeps catching my eye. It says:
Courage, dear heart.
Courage, dear heart. As I think about those words, I remember all the times I’ve felt fear. Fear that would have paralyzed me had God not carried me through.
I was scared to death to get on a plane from Texas to Istanbul when I was 24. Even more scared when I arrived at my new Turkish home with people I could barely talk to.
Scared when I could hardly walk and the doctor told me I had rheumatoid arthritis at age 27.
Scared silly to say “yes” when I got my second marriage proposal from the man who’d broken off our engagement four years earlier. I’d have to go live in El Salvador to marry him.
Daunted when my husband and I loaded up our two toddlers and 17 suitcases to get on another plane back to Turkey 5 years later.
Nervous to take the first step and knock on my neighbors’ doors to say hi.
Even more nervous to call younger women on the phone when I sensed God calling me to a discipleship ministry. What if they thought I was an idiot?
Doubtful when I started home schooling my two kids. What if I messed up their education?
Anxious beyond words when my dear husband had a mini-stroke at age 53. I sat in the hospital waiting room wondering, “What would I do if Jose couldn’t take care of me anymore?”
Petrified to tell people we believed God was calling us to plant a new church in our Muslim city. Who did we think we were, anyway? What if we failed? What would people think?
What kind of fears have you faced?
I don’t know what fears you might be facing today. Maybe you’re worried about that doctor appointment, or wondering if your marriage is going to make it through. Maybe you’re afraid the depression you’re under will never lift.
What I do know is this. Whatever you’re scared of, God is bigger. You can be brave in the face of fear because God is on your side. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. Courage means you keep going in spite of fear. You keep hanging in there when the going gets tough.
It’s okay to be afraid. God knows our weakness. His voice whispers reassurance:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.” (Isaiah 41:10)