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Whenever I’m paralyzed about making a big decision, I ask myself, “What is the story I want to tell with my life?” Makes it easier.

from Felicia Day, on Twitter

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I’ve wanted to do. — Georgia O’Keeffe

I am afraid, always, all the time. There is always something I am worried about, something that scares me, something that terrifies me. I am afraid of being attacked when I walk the dog, of missing our plane when we go on trips, of not matching, of matching badly, of not being allowed to graduate. I’m afraid of public speaking, of large groups of people, of meeting new people, of sounding like an idiot on the phone. There is always something about every day that makes me fearful.

Don’t get me wrong, I have developed all kinds of self-talk and management techniques which keep this constant anxiety from overwhelming my existence, but that doesn’t mean the underlying monologue of fear is any less present. It’s just less in control. BWB tells me sometimes that he is amazed at how difficult it must be to be me, and that he wonders if I realize how strong it makes me that I don’t let it break me. I don’t know about that — this is just the way my life is — but I do know that it can be exhausting and frustrating to constantly fight with my instincts.

As a result of all this, the O’Keeffe quote I started this post with has become something of a mantra for me. My mother gave me a matted, decorative version of it ages ago, probably because she knew how applicable it was to my frame of reference. I am always scared. I am always anxious. I don’t expect either of those things to really ever go away. I do expect to live my life in spite of them.

The sermon this week at church was about choosing love over fear, and one of the points the guest preacher brought up was that one of the most often repeated phrases in the Bible is some variation on, “Do not be afraid.” Do not be afraid, we are told, because God is with you. And He is, I am certain of it, but sometimes in the darker, scarier moments of life it can be hard to remember. Many of the hardest choices that I have had to make in my life were ones which revolved around taking a step off the precipice into the very murky darkness of the unknown when it would have been much, much easier to stay where I was and be assuredly safe. I don’t think that when we are told to not be afraid, the intention is that we should not do the scary things. Quite the contrary, the point is that the scary things need not be quite so big and scary in the first place, because we are not as weak and alone as we might feel in that moment.

I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, but I do my best to make sure it never keeps me from doing a single thing I’ve wanted to do. God is with me; I can trust in Him and not be afraid.

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