Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stop Over-thinking Your Fear

Do you remember your first steps? Chances are, you don't. But you might remember the first time you did something else...the first time you rode a two wheeler, the first time you spoke in front of an audience, the first time you drove (alone) after you got your driver's license, or the first time you ventured out into any kind of unknown territory...literal or figurative. It was exhilarating...intoxicating even...and frightening! Most likely not in that order. Or maybe all at once.

Taking the first steps toward anything new is scary because of the unknown factor. We're most likely not the first to ever venture out into this new thing; we've seen it done countless times by other people who have not died from it. We know it can be done. But because we've never actually done it ourselves, for some reason, we're not sure if we'll survive.

Normal Dog (aka Lucy) is not quite normal. She doesn't swim. She loves the water as long as she can feel the bottom. Once the bottom drops, she panics. 

I knew she could swim. Isn't it sort of a reflex with dogs? Don't they instinctively know how to swim? I've seen her do it for brief moments-usually to get back to solid ground. She just doesn't seem to have the confidence to let go of the shore. 

Down the street and through the woods is this great pond in the middle of the woods, where
This is not Lucy, but it may as well be...all Goldens look alike!
there is usually no one around. We love to walk down there with Lucy and let her off leash to explore the stream and the pond. The other night I decided to bring some tennis balls with me for an experiment. Lucy loves to chase balls. If I threw the ball into deeper water, would she swim out to get it? Guess what? She did. And then she couldn't get enough! She conquered her fear by simply doing it without thinking. She was so focused on getting the ball, she never gave her fear another thought. I now have a swimming dog. I'm so proud of her!

How much do we hold back from swimming out into deeper waters because we over-think our fear? How much does our lack of confidence hold us back from doing what we truly desire? I'm sure all of us have had that moment where we were on the sidelines watching everyone else do what we wished we could do, but lacked the confidence to join in. Fear of failure can cripple and paralyze us!

I'm no psychologist, but I think that what we fear most is not so much swimming out into deeper waters, but taking that first stroke in the shallow water away from our safety net (the shoreline). It's too close. It's too easy to swim back to safer waters where we can feel the bottom. We risk nothing. It's not so much the fear of the unknown as it is the fear of the journey into the unknown-the process...and then not being able to get back. Being abandoned in the unknown. We spend more time convincing ourselves that we can't...or thinking about the repercussions of failure. But like the saying goes, "You'll never know unless you try."

There's a little saying in the bible that goes like this: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).  If we keep our thoughts on Him, He will ease our over-thinking mind. 
Lucy had a ball as her incentive. Her focus became getting that ball. What she didn't know was that I had two others in case her first attempts didn't pan out and we lost the ball. If we lose the ball in the deep water, God will throw us another one to keep us going. He won't let us swim out there for nothing. When there's nothing in the deep water, that's when we begin to remember our fear, and panic once again sets in. But God promises never to leave us. He will not lead us to deeper waters and then abandon us there.

We need to be more like Lucy and stop over-thinking our fears. Be a dog! Don't give your mind time to hesitate. Take the first stroke, pick your feet up off the safety of the shoreline and swim out into the deep. Remember your goal, not your fear. And enjoy the journey! It can be scary, but it can also be exhilarating!

Blessings Along the Path and in the Deeper Waters,

I had a great 11 second video of Lucy swimming out to get her tennis ball, but alas, I cannot figure out how to get it on YouTube.

Song of the Day
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

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