“Where do you go to church?” I asked as I saw the rosary dangle from my Uber driver’s rearview mirror.
“Uhhh… que?” he responded.
“Are you Catholic?” I replied, a little louder, and stubbornly hoping if I asked in different English words he’d understand.
“Ah, yes, yes,” he said. “My English… it’s not very good.”
“That’s okay,” I said. “Como se dice ‘I am Catholic’ en Espanol?”
“Soy Catolica,” he said with the surest smile I’ve seen.
And that’s how my friendship with Gonzalo began.
In September (Septiembre… see, I’m learning), I’m traveling to Portugal and Spain for the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady at Fatima. It’s a pilgrimage, and I’ve written about it briefly here.
For years, traveling scared me. It scared me because it meant I wouldn’t have my “safe foods,” I wouldn’t be able to work out, and I had a recurring fear I’d gain weight (which is technically a fear within a fear…). It was surely no way to live. When I was traveling, I’d be cranky and self conscious and never fully enjoy myself.
Well, those days are long gone, and since I’ve found running, I can truly work out (i.e. run) anywhere. So, that helps.
But more importantly, I’ve worked through a fear that was persistently active in my life for many, many years. Getting over the fear didn’t come easily, though. In fact, it’s taken those many, many years to realize that the more I put myself out there, the more I push myself, the more I put myself in uncomfortable situations, the more I fail (yes, fail), the easier it’ll become to face fears.
Fear keeps us safe. And having fears keeps us grounded. Fears are also meant to be slashed, beaten, and broken.
I recently started doing Crossfit (and when I say recently, I mean I’ve done two classes). In my first class, I saw someone do a handstand up against the wall. I said to myself, “I want to try that. But no, I’m not on that level yet. This is my first time.” And then I caught myself. “Wait, who says I can’t do it?” And the next thing I knew my feet were in the air and I was doing a handstand against the wall.
We stop ourselves from overcoming fears, because we’re afraid of the unknown. Of the “what ifs” that typically never end up happening. Understandable.
But answer this for me.
We get our hearts broken, people let us down, mock us, bully us, and yet we continue to love one another. Why do we continue to open our hearts to others again and again knowing we could surely get hurt? Why do we continue to be vulnerable and to put ourselves out there? Must be the human condition. But the majority of us do it without fear. Or if there’s initial fear, we push through it.
Whatever it is, I think it’s beautiful.
If you follow me on social media, you know my new fondness for the book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Y’all this book has changed my life.
She tells the story of a young man, who, though brilliant and extremely talented, would not write for fear of failure.
(But first, can we address the fact that she begins her story with “I was once in love with a gifted young man…”. Oh the number of stories I could tell that begin with that line. Maybe I’ll put them all in a book.)
“I would rather be a beautiful failure than a deficient success,” he is quoted saying.
Gilbert so brilliantly responds with, “I don’t see this path as heroic. I think it’s far more honorable to stay in the game — even if you’re objectively failing at the game — than to excuse yourself from participation because of your delicate sensibilities.”
And then she goes on to talk about perfection, and it’s simply wonderful. You have to read the book.
Where are you letting fear run your life? And while I’m at it, why haven’t you done that thing you’ve always wanted to do?
Like learn Spanish and travel to Spain for 12 days.
Or, run a marathon.
Or, go back to school.
What Sets Your Soul On Fire?
What sets your soul on fire? What gets you out of bed in the morning? This world jostles us around and yet we wake up, and we persist day after day. Take that persistence and let it permeate your life. Do a handstand (if you’re physically able) when it scares you. Speak up in that meeting. What have you seriously got to lose?
Here’s another thing I love about facing fears. It’s a choice. We actively make the decision to say, “Uh, no. I’m not going to let this fear run my life.” And we take whatever measures necessary to overcome it.
How Do I Get Over Someone I Have Feelings For?
And Are These Feelings A Sign That It’s Meant To Be?
Let’s apply this to dating – the stage of life I’m currently living in (and is something I don’t really bring up on here). I recently read an article entitled, “How Do I Get Over Someone I Have Feelings For? And Are These Feelings A Sign That It’s Meant To Be?”. Which, I think is the most brilliant title I’ve ever read, because who wouldn’t click on that link?
The author, Stephanie May Wilson, makes the point that God does not force us to love Him. He doesn’t put feelings in our hearts so that we will love Him. He doesn’t do that for our love for others. And he doesn’t shop-vac feelings out of our hearts so that we will get over someone. It’s a choice. It’s not always an easy choice, but it’s a choice nonetheless.
So, if feelings for someone don’t come from God, and we can execute our free will as we continue to be vulnerable and give our hearts to others, fear, which is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat,” is also not given to us from God.
We choose fear. Or, fear chooses us. Whichever way you’d like to look at it.
So that thing you’re scared to do for whatever reason. That person you’re afraid to ask out. That trip you’re afraid to take. That person you’re afraid to let back into your life. That book you’ve always said you’re going to write, but never have. Take a step this week to make it happen. And don’t choose fear.
Me? Well, I’m going to work on not living my life with fear in the front seat. I’m going accept and love myself for who and what I am at this very moment. And I think I’m going to start training for a marathon.
C’est la vie! (Not Spanish, I know).