Fear is one of those things with two sides, like two sides of a coin. On one hand, there things that it is healthy to be afraid of like the hot stove. These fears keep us from getting hurt.
But then there are fears that keep us from achieving what God may want us to do. These are the fears that say, "You can't do that" or "What will everyone think if you mess up?" I am way too consumed by these kinds of fears. They often keep me from trying, striving.
As you may know, I've started running the last couple of months. It's a program called "Catch the Wave" put on by the local running club for beginning runners. I missed the first two weeks, so I was already behind when everyone was suppose to run 6 minutes the third week. I struggled to keep pace with the lowest group, Group 10.
The next week, they added a transitional group and called it Tiger. I must of spaced on the idea of it being a "transitional" group and was sticking with that group. Last week, our leader was out so another experienced runner led the run. I ran fairly far ahead with her and we circled back periodically for the other members of the Tiger group. She told me four times that I should move up to Group 10. My initial reaction was, "I can't." It was intimidating to think about. Last week the Tiger group ran 4 and a half minutes and walked 2 and repeated that pattern. The other groups were running 16 and walking 4 or 5 minutes in between the running intervals. How could I even think of jumping up that much?
And then there was the other consideration. I've enjoyed getting to know Katie and Chris in the Tiger group. I would be moving up to a group where I didn't really know anyone. I have a definite anxiety about being around people I don't know.
I decided to take the leap. Tonight, I ran with Group 10. The plan was 5 minutes walking, 20 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 20 minutes running, 5 minutes walking. My mind started going with the "I can't" statements before we started. But I decided to not look at my watch and just run.
Somehow, I ended up at the front with one of the leaders. It was a slow pace, but I needed that. I found myself acutely aware that people were running right behind me and if I slowed down I might get stepped on. Amazingly, I made it 17:30! I did a 7 minute walk and then tried the second 20. I actually made it about 12 out of the 20 during that stint.
My legs feel a bit like jello, but it is a happy, satisfied feeling.
How do we shake off fears?
- Ask God if it is what He wants us to do. Is God concerned with my running? Maybe to a degree, though it isn't likely to impact things much. He is more concerned when I short change myself and, more importantly, Him.
- Focus on the task at hand and not the fears. I just needed to run. I didn't need to worry about the time. My task was to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving.
- Focus on the God who gives strength and endurance. Things aren't always over with quickly. (It's amazing how long 20 minutes is!) In life, things can take years.
Maybe that is an over simplification of things. I need to figure out how to apply it all in the rest of life. But for today, I feel like I gave the fear of "I can't" a good swift kick.
A couple years ago, my friend Allison tried to teach me to run. She moved suddenly and the running stopped. I had a goal of running a mile straight. If I reached that goal, I told her girls I would take them for ice cream. I called her tonight to tell her they needed to do an ice cream run. That was a fun phone call -- even if it was a couple years in the coming.