Thursday, November 25, 2010

Breakthrough! (Where do I go from here?)

Wow, blogs sure can be a terrific source of guilt!  Yes, it's been awhile and no I don't have any really good excuses and you can bet that it sure will happen again! :)  But while the blogging has paused, the growth continues and I'm excited to share with those of you who happen upon this little corner of cyberspace. 

I was talking with my husband the other night while driving home from Halifax (wow, was it good to be in a "real" mall again, even though we will forever be spoiled, mall-wise, from living so close to West Edmonton Mall for so many years...) and amid our many topics of conversation, I had a breakthrough!  I realized that all my life, I've actually set myself up for failure.  As I think back over the choices I've made, they've all been based on what was easiest, what would involve the least amount of hard work and obstacles to overcome, the path of least resistance.  In other words, almost every choice I've made, big or small, has been based on fear.  Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of judgement, fear of caring, of making an effort and failing anyway...  I had a really strong tendency, growing up, to only do that which I was naturally good at, and to quit at the first sign of looming obstacle or of possible failure.  The most poignant example of this is my choice of college major.  From as far back as I can remember, I was interested in psychology.  I loved counselling, and did a lot of it in Jr. High and High School.  But as university approached, I heard rumors that a certain required class - Statistics - was hard.  That, and only that, was the reason I didn't major in psych.  Instead I majored in English, one of the few  "disciplines" that is almost entirely subjective!  I didn't care about it, I didn't have any plans as to what I would do with it, no calling or lofty ambitions...  I chose English because it was easy for me, writing good papers came quite naturally, I liked to read (not that I actually read many of the "required" texts), and there was NO MATH!  As I'm writing this, I'm just shaking my head.  What was I thinking?!  (Just a note: no disrespect meant to the many English majors out there - I admire you tremendously for your passion and creativity!) 

It's the same in relationships - I've almost always surrounded myself with people who are easy to be around, likable, friendly, accepting, emotionally stable (more or less)...  I would run screaming (silently) from any relationship that might pose a threat, ie. that would require effort and/or authenticity. And I wouldn't even consider entering into a friendship with anyone who might be different in any major way from myself.  And that worked just great for awhile.  I had lots of good friends while growing up, in school and college.  I was as close as was comfortable for me (though I realize now that there were some who wanted/needed to go deeper that I deliberately kept a distance - I sincerely apologize; I get it now!)  But where does that leave me now?  With no really close friendships, nobody to hang out with, nobody to call, nobody to pray for/with, nobody to go deeper with...(I exclude my husband and family here; this blog is just about me!)   I'm not writing this to illicit your sympathy or pity, but to tell it like it is, to warn you about the dangers of living by fear and not faith, to encourage you (and me!) to live authentically, to love without fear, to let people know the real you. 

So when I say I've been setting myself up for failure, I guess I mean ultimate failure.  In the short term, only pursuing that at which you naturally excel produces much perceived success.  But it's not the abundant life I'm looking for.  I'm not sure what to do with this new insight into myself, but I want it to be a turning point, a catalyst for change.  But I'm still fearful.  What if people don't like the real me?  What if I pursue what I really care about and end up a dismal failure?  "But God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-discipline!" (2 Tim. 1:7, NIV + KJV)  I don't want to live in fear!  There's a Newsboys song the chorus of which I've kind of taken as my new motto:
"Dance like no one is looking;
Sing like no one will hear;
Love like you've never hurt before
Live like there's nothing to fear!"

If any of this strikes a chord with you, please let me know!  I've appreciated so much all the feedback I've received from so many on similar journeys, and I've been so encouraged!  Let's get real, People!  Let's be the real people of God who live life in community and find hope and courage and healing together, and who reach out to a world that needs exactly that!  May you know real joy today!


  1. Joy, what a beautiful realization you've made... how exciting that you can now move forward and make less "safe" choices. I too tend to choose the safer options, easier options so I can appear at least somewhat together. Making the realization is half the battle. So much of what you write (beautifully I might add) mirrors what I have or am experiencing... I would love to rekindle our friendship and make it real. You were such a kindred spirit growing up :) Love, Lez

  2. I have lived my life in a similar fear-based way. God has been bringing me out of it, but for now He is still working on me. Sometimes I find myself so paralyzed with fear, scared to try in case I fail. I'm not sure why failing would be such a bad thing....I like to try things now that there is little chance I will be great at, it's very cleansing.

    By the way the anonymous here and below is Cathy Cooke. I just don't want to have another web listing to keep track of. I'll try to remember to say it's me if and when I comment.

  3. God has been pushing me...kicking and screaming (sometimes) into different paths that I may not have taken had He not given me a kick in the behind. Working in Children's ministry at church when He closed the door to what I 'normally' would do (worship team), is a good example. And...I LOVE IT!! It is totally where I need to be.

    As an introvert (and married to one) it is hard to sometimes get out and be with other people. Yet, God has pushed us into a small group which we love! It is a good time of growth for us as a couple.

    Then there was me working up North for a year and a half. That, too, was WAY out of my comfort zone!!

    I am with you on the living in fear, but the more I am pushed the more I learn to trust God.

    I am glad you had this breakthrough!! I love this blog, Joy! Keep it up!!

  4. That is me, through and through. It's sad, and please don't take this personally, but besides my husband and family I have no close friends, at least close-by. It's hard. Even close friends I've had in the pasted have seemed to drift away. Though I admit I have as well. I feel really lonely most of the time, even when I'm surrounded by my kids.
    And at ABU I started as an English major, but actually switched to Sociology. But married Jeff after my 2nd year (in 2004) I had no regrets (at the time) of not going back. Because of Statistics. Now I'm not sure I'd be able to go back. At least not while my kids are this young. And also majorly for financial issues. There is no way we could afford it right now. And the thought of taking statistics scares me to now end. All through high school I struggled so much with math. If I passed I was happy. And to be honest I have no idea now what I would actually want to do with a Sociology degree.
    Anyway, there you have it. You are I are a lot alike. Definitely struggling with loving myself. Have for a very long time...


  5. Hurray for breakthroughs!! It's only human to want to take the easy way--don't beat yourself up!--but it's great that you've had some clarity and are aiming high!

  6. Thanks for sharing your faults - it's a commonality here among the commenters and I just want to tell you I struggle with many of the same things. I usually chalk it up to being just plan lazy. Self-judgement aside, the point is to jump in and live the life of abundance as you said. Thanks for inspiring me to take more chances and put in a bit more effort.

  7. Success barriers are real and people don't talk about them in our culture. Excuses we make are all success barriers. What we feel entitled in life is usually what we get.

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