I cry watching the U.S Olympic gymnastics team.
I don’t just mean a few tears either. I mean full on sobbing. I just sit there and cry.
Then one of the gymnast’s parents are interviewed. They feature the young hopeful’s story, her road to the gold, how her parents sacrificed it all to get her there, and I cry some more.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be one of two people: Nadia Comaneci or Mary Lou Retton.
When my class took its weekly visit to the school library, I bypassed the card catalog and went straight to the 900′s. I knew their books would be waiting for me there.
I read the same two books again and again.
I wanted to be just like them.
One of my favorable attributes was my short frame. Now I stand at a grand total of 4’11” tall (or 5’0”) depending on who’s doing the measuring. I don’t remember how tall I was then.
I am also built like a gymnast – with a few less muscles mind you, but I could have gotten there. Muscles stick on well when there’s not much room for them stretch out.
I even took gymnastics classes for a while.
There was only one problem.
I was afraid of the uneven bars. And probably the balance beam if I’m honest with myself.
When the tumbling practice was exhausted and it was time to move on to something requiring more fortitude, more risk, I bowed out gracefully.
I blamed it on my fear of heights.
Maybe that was true. Except that I never even got up onto the uneven bars. Not even once.
In that moment, fear won.
Maybe it was the fear of falling and getting hurt or falling and being embarrassed. Maybe it was the fear of not being good enough. Maybe it was the fear of others laughing at me or thinking, “What does she think she’s doing up there?” Maybe it was the fear of succeeding.
I don’t know the source of my fear.
All I know is that I quit gymnastics because of fear, and twenty-six years later I still remember it.
But it didn’t stop there.
Today I quit because of fear too.
Back in the summer of last year my church began planning a mission trip to Burkina Faso, West Africa. I sat there the Sunday it was announced, and my heart started beating fast. You know who’s speaking when your heart starts beating fast, right? Of course, the One I want so often to ignore. But He has a tendency to keep knocking, and he did.
Years earlier, as a teenager, I prayed a very specific prayer for God to not make me a missionary and send me to Africa. I was at a crossroads in my relationship with Jesus – at a place where I knew that I had to be all in or all out. If I was all in then He might just ask me to do scary things. I didn’t want to do scary things.
It took Him twenty years, but on that Sunday He asked me to go to Africa for a week on a short-term mission trip.
I cried. I bawled. I begged not to go. I came up with every excuse in the book – I’m married now. I have to take care of my husband. What if I get pregnant right before we go. What if I don’t raise all the money. What if something happens when I’m there. What if I’m changed. What if I come back changed. What if my life changes.
Through all of the tears and fretting and excuse-making, one truth continued to whisper in my mind:
Fear can’t be your reason.
There may be other valid reasons to not go to Africa on a mission trip, but fear can’t be one of them.
We are all afraid of something – quitting a job we hate, starting a new job we might just love, sacrificing money to be with our children more, moving to a new place, mending a broken relationship, speaking truth into someone’s life, pursuing a passion, a dream, a calling.
But fear cannot be the reason you stop. There may be other reasons worth quitting for, but it can’t be fear.
Why Can’t Fear Be Your Reason?
Because God does not give us a spirit of fear.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).
So if you have a spirit of fear, then that spirit is not from God. God is not in your decision. God is not the One leading you stop moving forward.
Today ask yourself, is my decision based on fear? If it is, then either get a new reason or don’t stop doing what God is calling you to do. Because fear can’t be your reason. If it is, then He’s not there.
What decisions have you made out of fear?