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Everyone’s narrative of life looks different. If you had met me 20 years ago, you would have seen that I projected confidence, control, and happiness. However, I was living a lie. The person I pretended to be was in sharp contrast to who I was. I struggled from severe anxiety, and my life narrative was a facade. I often expressed being full of contentment and well-being to anyone who asked. I felt justified in doing so not only in order to protect my feelings, but also in order to protect others. With age and maturity, I came to understand that my pride had a strong hand in why I felt compelled to hide my internal battles. They made me feel weak and insecure, so exposing them didn’t seem like an option for me.
Fear has always been something I struggled with. As a child, I recall worrying about things that seemed unnatural for other kids my age. Death was one of those things. As I got older, my fear took an abrupt turn from worry, and evolved into severe anxiety. In the most shrewd and subtle ways, fear began to dictate my life without my even realizing it. Decisions about my life, health, and relationships were run by my irrational thoughts. They became my security blanket, and yet they left me feeling exposed and insecure. They hindered my growth.
That was until I was faced with my mortality at age 40. When your life is in question, your perspective on how you live has the potential to shift in a different direction. I was terrified of dying and leaving my husband and four children behind, but I was already worn out from a lifetime of worry. My greatest fear had come true, and I was left with thoughts of, “Now what.” I remember sitting alone, pressing my fingers on my wrist and feeling my heartbeat race. The silence in the room was almost deafening, but I could hear God’s gentle voice speak to me, and ask me to surrender all my fears to Him. It was a welcome invitation that I had been waiting for for years, and one that I immediately accepted.
Surrender. That was my answer, my saving grace. It would change my life forever. It finally put my fears in perspective, and allowed me to acknowledge that even though fear is normal, courage has the final say. Surrendering is what gave me the courage to live. For the first time, I was able to live joyfully, worry-free, and fearless. The weight of fear that I had been carrying around for years was finally lifted, and I could breathe deep, slow, and steady. Inhaling my past and exhaling my future restarted my life. Surrendering shifted my thoughts and priorities. It allowed me to see truths that had been blinded by fear. Surrendering propelled me forward. Gratitude for each day had overtaken the fear of something that might never be.
Today, taking small bursts of time to do seemingly insignificant things like going for a walk alone re-energizes my mind and body. Hearing the sound of my breath increase with each climb up a hill keeps me centered and focused on what I can see instead of what I can’t. Each step forward brings me closer to authentically living the narrative I so desperately wanted, and for years pretended to have. I was able to understand and embrace a more mature faith and mindset by recognizing that things happen for a reason, and each difficult moment adds another layer of foundation so I can stand alone on stronger ground. I became more intentional about the importance of being still and silent. But the most important lesson I learned was that fear only runs off of the power we give it, but being willing to surrender those fears is what provides the strength needed to push past what holds us back in life.
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