Fear is a paralyzing thing. I don’t mean that necessarily in the literal sense, but in the sense that fear can paralyze you from moving forward in your life, from experiencing meaning in your life.
I know first-hand the paralyzing effects of fear. For years I was afraid. Afraid of failure. Afraid of not being good enough. Afraid of never accomplishing anything meaningful with my life.
I was afraid of getting sick. I traveled to Fiji for my Honeymoon 14 years ago and got food poisoning so severe that I couldn’t get out of bed for 6 days. That was the last time I traveled overseas.
Despite these fears, I had a great life. I was selling advertising for a living and I was blessed throughout my career. I made a great living, sent my son to private school, had enough to give to others. But something was missing. I always felt like I was destined to contribute something more but I didn’t know what and I definitely didn’t see how. The career that I had strived my whole life to attain and had been such a vehicle of blessing in my life ultimately became a prison I could not find a way out of and my biggest fear soon became the fear of losing my job.
These were the limiting thoughts that haunted me and kept me imprisoned.
- What would I do?
- How would I support my family?
- Where else could I go if I were to leave media?
I was stuck. Paralyzed.
Unable to move forward with my life but relatively happy, I settled for happiness and let my happiness dull my inner calling to be more, go more and do more with my life.
Two years passed and something inside me started to feel dissatisfied and I started to wrestle with the question of meaning. Soon my comfort zone became very uncomfortable. I’d pray about it in the mornings, I’d have long discussions with my husband about it in the evenings but it always came down to my fear of leaving my job, so I did nothing.
Then in May of this year, I did something extraordinarily risky for me, I went to Nicaragua. A friend of mine was going on a mission trip to build a preschool in a small town outside the capital city of Managua and when I received her support letter, something in my heart leapt. Before I could think I replied “why don’t I come with you?”. As soon as I hit the send button I immediately began to panic.
This was so completely out of character for me. I am not adventurous. I battle anxiety whenever I fly. I had not flown internationally in a very long time. I didn’t have a valid passport or any of my shots and the trip was happening in 2 weeks. I had never been on a mission trip. All I envisioned were outhouses and the threat of malaria, both of which were completely unappealing to me. Last of all, the biggest reason I had to stay home was that the climate of my workplace at the time had become so utterly unstable. A huge reorganization of the company was looming and we were all fearing for our jobs. It was not a good time to take time off.
I decided that I would just take it one thing at a time. Day 1 apply for my passport renewal. Day 2 get my shots, etc. I figured that if God wanted me to go on this trip, He would arrange for all the pieces to fall in place just as they needed and just in time. And they soon did, which meant I had to push through my fears and GO!
And that’s what I did. Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was that my bags were being picked up and loaded for me onto a truck. I didn’t have to worry about a thing, but boarding the bus. You would not expect to go on a mission trip and feel taken care of, however, as a mom, having someone else do anything for you seems like a luxury and everything was taken care of for me.
These were the little luxuries I noticed and appreciated most as a working mom.
- all meals were planned and cooked for me so that I was the one being called to dinner or breakfast, rather than the other way around.
- a clean room was provided for me and I was not the one making the bed or doing the laundry daily but someone was doing that for me.
- an itinerary for each day was provided for me so I was not having to plan anything.
- my son was at home so I was not needing to worry about him getting lost or hurt.
I was truly free to just experience all that God had for me as I poured my energy into helping others.
In this environment, I was able to relax and truly connect with God as Father. Rarely as a mom do you get to feel taken care of like a child, but I felt like I was being cared for by my Heavenly Father. I realized immediately that this was going to be a very different trip than any I had taken before.
When we arrived at the town where we were to build the preschool, I noticed the name of the town was written on the church building. It was “Dios Provee”, translated, God Provides. God often speaks to us through everyday things that only resonate with us, we just need to be paying attention. For example, it didn’t seem to matter to anyone else that the name of the town was “Dios Provee” but to me, it was like God was reassuring me loud and clear that He knew my fears and that He was my provider.
On our final day in the village, one of the women from the village who I had prayed with the day before came up to me and asked if she could take a picture with me. Then she hugged me with all of her might and said “thank you. I will never forget you”.
I was overcome because here I was so fearful for my life “what I would do” and “how I would live” if I lost my job when I got home, yet here was this woman with nothing comparatively, who had so much peace and so much joy from a simple prayer.
I could not even begin to imagine the challenges she faced each day, from gathering fresh water for her family to finding food, cooking it over a simple wood stove and sharing one room with a dirt floor and tin roof for her entire family. She didn’t have the luxury of worrying about a 401k or a health insurance plan or a new career. Yet, she was living an abundant life. She had everything because her trust was in God that He would provide. Little did she know that it was I who would not forget her.
On our last day in Nicaragua we went to Laguna de Apoyo, a swimmable fresh water lake in a volcanic crater. We had lunch at Posada Ecologica la Abuela.
The restaurant had an amazing view overlooking the lake and a deck that people used for recreational jumping. I did something completely out of character for me that day- I jumped. Not once, not twice, but three times off that deck. Each time my heart pounding through my chest as I faced my fears.
My feet left the safety of the warm wooden planks and felt nothing but the air beneath me for a few seconds until they touched the water. As I let go of my fears that day, I found freedom.
The following month, I lost my job. After 17 years with the company, I was laid off along with 2,300 others as part of a restructuring. But instead of being afraid of the news, I welcomed it. I relished it. I looked forward to it. I knew this was the very reason for the reassurance God had given me in Nicaragua. I was able to face the news with great joy and expectation, convinced that greater things lie ahead.
Now here I am, 4 months later, blogging for a living. Working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life but so happy to be finally using my gifts to help others discover their purpose. To help others find meaning and productivity in the every day. To inspire others to go, take the leap and rediscover adventure. To live abundantly.
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I’m Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
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