How often do you do things that scare you?
This year, I wanted to stare fear in its face and be the fighting woman of courage I know God has called me to be.
At some point, I realized fear was holding me back from truly living and realizing the potential of a fulfilling life. I live in my head and I rarely take risks when I want to. I didn’t have a picture of what it would look like to risk exactly, but I knew I would feel it when the moments presented themselves. Inside me, those moments feel like an incredible urge to say “yes”, jump, and throw myself in full-force…. However, they are normally coupled with a pit in my stomach and dread that numbs and negates the excitement. I asked the Lord to present more of those moments to me so I could say “yes” and expand my world and relationship with Him.
Those moments have presented themselves. Moments that have led to ending a relationship with a man who checked off all the boxes, but just wasn’t right. Writing for the Newsletter at work. Praying with a friend in public. Accepting an invitation to deeper relationship. Responding to a Facebook message. Taking care of my body. All of those moments have expanded my world and how I’ve experienced God.
I was recently invited to a shooting range with long-time friends of my family. I had a moment. A moment of “Yes! I’ve always wanted to go! Yes!” coupled with “I have no idea what I’d be doing. I’m going to hurt someone. I will get hurt. That sounds incredibly scary.”
This invitation intimidated me. Not only do I feel incredibly ignorant about firearms, I had only a bad memory involving them.
My abusive ex-boyfriend once stormed around his house in anger, grabbed his loaded rifle from its hiding spot, and pointed it directly at my face. His fury had led to pushing boundaries before and there was never any indication if his senses would return before something irreparable had been done. I knew I had only a spilt second to decide how I would respond. Cry, tremble, and hide, or remain calm, mask my terror, and talk him down. I chose the latter. I stood outside with him, face to face until he lowered the weapon, grabbed a rock, and beat and kicked the nearby wooden fence until it snapped. I don’t remember what I said exactly, I just remember panicking in my mind and being surprised by the steady sound of my own voice. I remember thinking, “how is this my life?!?” (That’s a story for another day.) Seconds felt like minutes. I could feel the thickness of my own fear in the air, and I know Jesus must have been standing there with me, whispering my words, controlling my phrasing, and moving my body out of harm’s way in the exact right moment. I was terrified and ashamed of myself. I had no idea how that weapon worked, or how best to defend myself. I just knew I was scared for my life.
I didn’t realize how much that incident impacted me until I pulled up to the shooting range. I deal with trauma by forgetting it, literally, pushing it into black so I don’t have to live in shame and regret. I almost turned around. I didn’t know I was trembling until it was pointed out to me. The family I was with had no idea of my past experience. Maybe I should have mentioned it, but I was determined to feel the fear and learn how to shoot anyway. Ignorance had only fueled my fear before; knowing how to defend myself, how to handle a weapon, and feeling confident in my own abilities in general could have helped me more than once in my life.
The afternoon at the range was filled with more goodness than I ever expected. I was treated with kindness, patience, and given the wonderful opportunity to grow at my own pace. My environment was safe and controlled. I learned that true, healthy respect for firearms involves knowing how to use them. I remembered I am brave. I recognized I need practice and support to do the things I’m not good at! I left believing I can move past fear and anxiety and do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I smiled on my way home. I saw clearly that Evil will oppose and try to destroy the things most worth committing to… but Good will always win if we say yes and join in the fight. It was redeeming. And yes, I know you’re thinking it’s crazy God met me at the shooting range, but He did and it was EPIC.
I wrote last month about saying “no,” and I find it ironic that the Lord showed me this month the blessing in knowing when to say “yes.” Most of my life I have struggled between “healthy fear” and “bad fear.” You know what? That is incredibly hard to discern as a child, and I find even blurrier as an adult sometimes. I am learning to navigate the lines between what is Holy Spirit caution and just my own insecurity. As I walk away from this month, I’m clinging to Jesus. My world is expanding and there is more Truth and goodness waiting for me as I yes to more Jesus.
Where would you like to see a bigger God? Where is fear keeping Him small? I love that Jesus shows up in my story where I never thought I could see Him before. HE sees it all, and He is waiting to redeem and grow your wildest thoughts about Him when you least expect it. Will you say “yes” to His invitations to know Him more?
Anna Hull lives in San Antonio, TX. A graduate of Schreiner University with a B.A. in Religion & Political Science, Anna is passionate about finding Jesus in every day life. She enjoys unexpected adventure, making genuine connections with others, and finding beauty in chaos.