Safe or Stuck?
Guest Blog by Emily Cruz:
If I let fear prevent me from doing the things in my life that scared me, I would do approximately zero things. Motherhood would be out of the question, forget about public speaking, and all of my teeth would fall out because you’d never find me at the dentist’s office. I encounter fear multiple times a day. It begs me to cling to what’s comfortable. It wants me stagnant; immovable towards anything that feels slightly unfamiliar or predictable. I love being comfortable; like a pair of fuzzy socks, my husband’s sweatshirt that I stole from his side of the closet, our puppy. Give me a good book with a mocha, and I’m set for…I don’t know, years?
Me and comfort? We’re best friends. The hyper-aware, self-reflecting side of me would rephrase that to, “Comfort is an idol in my life,” and that would be correct.
Comfort holds me back because it keeps me far from fear and safe in a minimal-risk life. I often experience fear as a seatbelt, holding me back. Even if it’s a good thing, fear keeps me from getting out of my seat. Where God says, “Go for it!” Fear says, “Are you sure that’s what you should be doing?” Or even worse, “Who are you to do that?” and “What will people think about you?” Once doubt cracks the door ever so slightly, fear makes its way through.
So often we wait for the feelings of fear to go away before stepping out to take action. But God tells us to “fear not.” He’s not saying we will never feel fear. We will all feel afraid at various times in our lives. He is telling us to not allow fear to control us and prevent us from moving forward. When we feel fear, we have a choice—we can do it afraid! That’s what courage is. True courage is moving forward in the face of fear. You still feel fear, but with God’s help, you move forward anyway.
Fear That Keeps You Safe
+Not crossing the street without looking both ways
+Wearing a seatbelt in the car
+Being mindful of your surroundings if walking alone at night
+Going to the doctor when you’re sick and not getting better
Fear That Keeps You Stuck
+Not applying for a promotion because you believe there’s no way you’ll get it
+Staying in an unhealthy relationship because it’s more comfortable than starting over
+Convincing yourself that you’re fine because being vulnerable with a counselor is out of the question
+Worrying about what other people think about you. Anytime. Ever.
The other day, I was talking to a friend who received a new job opportunity – one that could potentially provide freedom for her and her family that she didn’t have in her current position.
“When I first heard about it, I was really excited! But then, as I began to think through the steps of leaving my current role and making the leap, I felt overcome with a sense of dread.”
She then posed a hypothetical scenario about them hiring her, realizing they don’t actually need that position, and then letting her go.
“Should I trust my gut feeling on this?” She asked me, longing for my endorsement and encouragement.
I reminded her that there are two types of fear. Fear that keeps us stuck and fear that keeps us safe. And they feel strikingly similar at times, but it doesn’t often take long to tell the difference when we reflect on what we’re actually feeling and hold it up against what we feel called toward. In my experience with fear, my feelings are the last place I want to look for guidance on how to move forward. Why? Because feelings are fleeting, ever-changing and don’t make for a solid foundation. Feelings are important, and they matter, but they aren’t always a wise and discerning voice in our lives when it comes to fear.
On the other hand, however, discernment is the solid foundation upon which I’m able to determine if I’m experiencing the type of fear that keeps me safe or the type of fear that keeps me stuck. In exercising discernment, specifically spiritual discernment, we’re able to pursue the things that God is calling us to and distinguish the areas in our life in which we need to pump the brakes, as well as the areas we need to step on the gas.
Where is fear keeping you stuck? What life-changing experience is waiting for you on the other side?
If you’re discerning that you aren’t supposed to move forward with that new job, get into a relationship with that great person, buy that car, move to that city, start that business – I promise you, it won’t come in the form of scarcity, not feeling good enough, manipulation, or FOMO.
Discernment says, “Hey, that’s not what I have for you right now,” or “That’s not the best situation for you at the moment.” Discernment is defined as the ability to judge well – to decide wisely. As Christ followers, discernment is a key component to living a fruitful life. Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.”
Fear will always attempt to convince you that you’re not _______ enough or you’re too _______ for whatever it is that you’re called to.
You know the saying, “you’re only one decision away from a completely different life?” Friend, I’m not imploring you to say yes in every difficult and potentially life-changing decision that comes your way, but I am encouraging you to use discernment as the filter, and not fear. Fear will shout, “NO!” every time – but discernment will tell you why.
Don’t let fear talk you out of those things you know you’re called to – lean into discernment.
Emily Cruz is a self-proclaimed coffee lover, a ninth-level high-elf wizard in Dungeons & Dragons, wife, mother, and author of This Won’t Define Me: Exchanging a Fearful Life for a Fruitful One. Located in the Pacific Northwest, she spends most of her days drinking large amounts of coffee, laughing with her favorite people, and thinking about what color to dye her hair next. She believes that a truly fruitful life is not out of reach for anyone, and while fear is an inevitable human experience–it doesn’t define us, and it doesn’t have to hold us back. For more of her writing and personal moments, visit www.emilycruz.substack.com and @empetreycruz on Instagram.