“You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.”
What terrifies you?
It can seem a simple question. But have you tried to answer it?
Disaster, death, so many ways it all could be ruined and the people I love could be hurt or taken from me. Big spiders, embarrassing myself, talking to strangers, these are all lesser fears, but they seem related.
What’s beneath them? When I stop to feel it, I think it’s a terror of missing out on the best in life, whatever that is. I fear never experiencing the greatest things life has to offer. They could be stolen by circumstances, so simply because I didn’t have the awareness to go after them, or the plain courage.
My biggest, deepest fear seems to center around navigating risk.
Everyone has deep fears, even the most confident people. Find someone who doesn’t trust easily and I’ll show you someone who fears people. We always have good reason. Hard experience has taught us well.
What most of us know beyond conscious knowledge is that until there’s an invitation and opportunity to face the deepest fear, we’ll remain fear-controlled. Everyone in the world. We need encouragement and opportunities. Otherwise, our inner children wait, silent, waiting to be asked, noticed, inspired by love.
If you want to know what’s wrong with most people, think of them as children ignored. It happened, and now they do it to themselves. A child ignored eventually shuts down. Adults forget and flee themselves.
So what we all need most is permission to stop and remember, to listen to the child and let it speak, to be encouraged out. And what I can tell you from my own experience is that what that requires most is trust.
Trust is the absence of fear. Trust is:
|confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction.|
You will finally speak when you trust it will be received. To know it’s okay, we let go and breathe easy. That freedom is essential to all you’ll become, all you’ll live, all you want to offer readers. So what you must do before anything else is receive permission to speak your unfiltered, vulnerable, risky truth.
Unjudged and unrestrained.
Remember, much experience has also taught you that when you do, you’ll feel again what’s most important to you. You’ve known it before. It’s just that when you did know that, you also found what scared you most. So to go back, you have to take the risk.
Behind this deepest fear is the storehouse of everything you will write that matters most.
This is what life is all about, what writing is about: surrendering your fight, to receive mercy for your own self.
Endless mercy, endless grace. That’s permission. It’s okay if you don’t believe you have that or can’t receive it yet. All you need right now is that hope that this is true. The willingness to believe is as good as believing. You can trust this.
How it happened for me was that when I took my faint hope and went ahead and risked asking myself why I feared missing out on what really matters in life, it sounded silly, like not much of a risk.
Who even cares? You’re wasting time. Quit navel-gazing and think about others for a change.
The voice tried to keep me silent. Those voices take many forms–a teacher, a parent, a friend, a sibling, a grandparent, a spouse. We give them authority and take them inside and let them rule us. We feed them and protect them as they tell us what we think we need to hear. They’re the voices of reason, of maturity, of logic, of truth.
Except they aren’t.
The voices aren’t wrong; they’re trying to keep us safe. We’ve had good reason to be afraid. The scars on our hearts prove it. My scars always embarrassed me, proved weakness, unmanliness, impotence. Looking at them revealed how sensitive I was, how “feminized.” The scars were deep, but the denial they even existed went deeper.
And this was my fight.
Only the mercy of God through Sheri, my girls, my family, friends, has released me. Beneath the fear and fight lived the scary adventure I’d longed for.
My fear of failure, of losing those I love, they’re universal fears. Strongest of all, the one more like terror, is of missing out on the life that truly matters, truly contributes, truly rewards.
There is no way to do enough, be enough, the voice says, proving itself with endless evidence, memories of the many times we’ve failed, missed out, been disappointing. So many examples, too many to count. They’d overwhelm and drag us under, so we turn away and ignore them.
And instead of fully living from the heart of the child, we live not to think of them.
What truly matters? What’s a life’s true contribution? What’s most rewarding? We all know the answer in our hearts: Connection. Relationship. Love. Compassion. Kindness. We know this. It changes everything. And we want to live this. But can we surrender the fear of missing out on whatever it is we think we need?
Where else would we find more meaningful connections than in this life we’re living? Who else could offer more than those we’re with? The question is either a foregone conclusion, or the ignorance of a fool.
The fool will control us until the wiser one takes its place. The fool will wonder what all this has to do with writing. The fool will be pulled by the nose toward every unconsidered new thought. The fool will try to ban the insignificant and end up straining out all meaning and substance.
Who but a fool thinks he can judge where or who is most significant? Who but a fool can say “this life is ruined” or “this life is not?” Everywhere and everyone and everything is creation–it is worthwhile, you fool! Be all there and you may just experience exactly what you’ve always wanted. Ignore it and wish for something else, something better or safer for you and you’ll only let fear continue keeping you from the incredible life you could be living right now.
“Give up, and the answer appears. Give up, and you are released. Give up, give up–let the bells toll it throughout your land. Struggle, and clarity of mind disperses. Surrender, and somehow it’s yours.”
– Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark
For the higher purpose,