In one of The Chronicles of Narnia (I think it’s in Prince Caspian), the allegorical God-figure Aslan tells Lucy, “Courage, dear heart.” His words pierce her soul and introduce some sense of bravery to steady her fearful heart.
Those words have been ringing in my heart too. For the past few weeks, my question to God has been (a less eloquent version of), “How?” How can I follow God’s calling for me without being ruled by fear?
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a doctor, based solely on how much fun it was to play “doctor” and to “experiment” on my younger brothers and sister. But when I was in fifth grade, I realized that being a doctor meant giving shots and scalpel-ing people, and all of a sudden I didn’t want to be a doctor. But I loved reading and writing, and my next big idea was to become a journalist.
Since then, the urge to write has never let go of me. I don’t write because I love it (though most of the time I really enjoy it); I write because I have to. I have ideas deep in my gut (is “heart” the more Christian-y word?) that I can’t wrestle with or let out until I start writing.
I’ve never stopped writing. I’ve started and stopped blogging countless times. But the Lord is graciously blessing my writing in a way that I wonder if maybe he’s leading me to start writing more frequently.
Saying that, I struggle with the desire to succeed. I want to win, and I tend to define a win with lots of glorious ideas and grandeur. But God isn’t calling me to success–he’s calling me to try. God is not Yoda: trying is not failure in his eyes. Fear of failure and foolishness mark a lot of places in my life, and these twin fears impact my writing (or lack of writing). I’m afraid that I’ll write something dumb and be unhelpful to people. I’m afraid that I’ll write for an audience that doesn’t exist. And I’m afraid that even a year or two from now I’ll be embarrassed about what I write today. I tend to think in the binary of success and failure, when life isn’t limited to those two choices. What could be both excites and frightens me, but I’m comforted to know that God knows both what could be and what actually will be.
A few hours passed between writing the preceding paragraphs and what I write now. In the time that elapsed, I had a long conversation with my best friend. She told me what I needed to hear: that when we follow God’s calling, we cannot fail. I don’t write to satisfy my own desires, but to glorify God by using the gifts he has given me. I have to let go of my understanding of failure in order to believe that whatever God asks of me will succeed on his terms, not mine.
So if I knew that God would not allow me to fail, what would I do? I would write.
My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
— Psalm 45:1