When You’re Scared to Admit Your Fear
Making your heart public is a very curious and very scary thing. It’s like unzipping your torso and then setting your delicate heart on a stainless-steel table, under the glare of a single bare bulb.
You imagine people standing in the shadows with puzzled looks, scowls and smirks, as they examine your vulnerable heart.
Maybe that’s why I used the word “terrified” the other day when I emailed a writer-friend, begging for prayers. It seemed like the most accurate word for that panicky feeling I was having, as I continue to press forward on this book-writing journey.
I’ve been pecking and tapping at keys, and most days, I sense joyous communion with God. I dig deep into His Word, into my redeemed past, and into my ever-reforming heart toward Christ. Those moments are precious, and I have felt utterly cherished by my Savior. I have felt held.
But occasionally, the enemy whispers in my ears, “What will people think of you?” In those terrifying moments, icy fear courses through my vessels.
On those days, there’s a part of me that wants to keep my fear secret. Maybe you’ve been there–
Maybe you’re a pastor, suffering with depression, and you’re wondering what your flock would think if they knew. So you keep quiet.
Maybe you’re a respected schoolteacher, but your kid is flunking college, and you don’t ask for prayers from anyone because you don’t want to look like a failure as a mother or a teacher.
Or perhaps you’re a counselor, but your very own marriage is on the rocks, but you don’t tell a soul. Because what would people think of you if they knew?
We’ve all felt it, this sense that someone might discover what a wreck we really are. So we keep our mouths shut and paste on a smile.
I’ve been there. I’m a new author, writing a book about people-pleasing and approval seeking, and I’m finding myself smack dab in the middle of that.very.battle, even as I write. I may well fight this battle until I take my last ragged breath. But I tell you, I will fight it. There’s too much at stake. I will not capitulate to the enemy.
Sure. It would be easier to keep it quiet, to tuck that delicate heart back in my chest, add another brick to the wall, and not let anyone know. But that would be a lie.
So I set my heart out there for you, right here at this computer — in my book and in this blog as often as I can. I did the same thing last week on my Facebook page with this:
“We’re friends, right? You and I? So can I get real with you for a sec? I’m terrified. I really need your prayers for this book I’m writing. I have been overwhelmed with a wave of great insecurity and uncertainty these last weeks, despite the fact that the manuscript is nearly finished. I NEED your prayers. I need God to guide, to calm me, to affirm me where things are going well, and to correct where I need corrected. I hate to get so dramatic like this on this Facebook page. I want to be an encouragement to YOU here in this space, not a drain on you, but I also need to be honest. I need prayer. I need Jesus. Thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable like this…”
And when I did that — when I really set my heart out like that on the table — there were no smirkers and mockers in the shadows.
I saw friends, standing in the Light.
I saw friends, shining light on my delicate heart.
I saw you.
Friend, Thank you for being a God-incidence in my life.
Maybe you are experiencing discouragement and fear? Here are some thoughts shared by friends who helped me during my week of worry. I pray these thoughts will minister to your heart as well:
“When I get discouraged and scared, I force my thoughts to focus on God’s love and away from my performance and worries. Rejoice in His overwhelming and unconditional love for you.” ~ Darcy
“Bread must be broken before it can be shared, friend.” ~ Holly
“Vulnerability is where we connect soul deep in this world, where hearts expand and Love seeps in infusing us with His perfect peace…and exquisite hope!” ~ Cindee
“Sing really loud and dance around, declaring His power, goodness and favor towards you as you endeavor to proclaim Him to the world.” ~ Daune
“On my office window it reads: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7) Someone shared this with me when I was feeling uncertainty.” ~ Lynda, my sister
“God’s got it.” ~ Scott Lee, the love of my life
And, also, I was encouraged by these words, which were placed before me in the most timely fashion this week —
From Jennie Allen, in her five-star-worthy book Anything: “My life is not my own, and I write to give away what I have been given. I write with no shame fully disclosing my inadequate humanity and God’s upheaval of my wreck of a heart and head, knowing full well it is the plight of every believer. … So, if I make mine public, I sincerely need your grace.” (A highly recommended read for all of my friends.)
“It isn’t in the shallow end where we learn what it feels like to be rescued.” ~ Mick Silva
And this post for new writers from Beth Moore … A worthy read.
We write in community every Wednesday about the God-Things that make you go, “Hmmm…”
Some call them coincidences. We call them God-incidences. And those goosebumps you get sometimes when you know the Holy Spirit is at work? Yep. They’re God-Bumps.
Want to join the chorus of words for our God? Pick either button above, attach it to your post, tell your story. Then, link up here.
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How about the counselor that suffers from depression? Oh, Jennifer, I know just what you mean here. I appreciate your authenticity and willingness to invite us into your heart. I stand here cheering you on!
Hi Christina, So glad you’re here. You make me feel brave. xo
“But I tell you, I will fight it.”
A battle cry rising. And here’s to cheering you on . . . to cheering me on . . . to cheering for all of us who are choosing the deep and tasting the sweet rescue.
Love your heart, Jennifer.
Sometimes, Kelli, I have to write it down, to really believe it in my heart. It’s like an oath. I’m guessing that as a writer, you understand this.
oh, I do. yes. you are not alone.
I can’t imagine a book…blogging is a stretch for me…coming out of hiding…blogging and FB…it takes great courage to write a book…until I came to the blog world…and bumped into so many writers…I did not think much about the breaking open of a person hearts to bleed on those pages…now I stand amazed at you brave ones…willing to let yourself go…go into the hands of God..letting Him take your life for His purpose…for His glory. lifting you weary arms in prayer…cheering you on to the finish line…blessings and courage to you my friend~
Part of the reason that I feel reluctant to share is because I know that many people would willingly trade places. There are so many great writers out there who want to write a book, and are trying to catch the attention of a publisher. Here I am, a contracted author, and I’m sending out the SOS! I feared I would just sound whiny, quite frankly. It’s good to have friends like you — like all of you — who let me share my deep-down fears. We become Aaron and Hur to one another when we say, “It’s OK. I hear you. Be vulnerable.”
Thanks, Ro. Love you.
Jennifer, I so know this place, I’ve wandered there too often lately when I try to write. Thank you for pushing through, for persevering and believing that God has this. He really does.
I can’t wait to read your book. Praying you through….
Thank you, Kris. Your friendship means a lot.
We all feel this way, Jennifer. I try not to compare my inside to other people’s outsides. It’s really hard though!
It was good to see you in person and talk about this. I know God is going to do good things with you, through you, for you, and in you.
Hey Marcus … You’re such a good friend and listener. This weekend was so good. Talking with other writers, like you, about these feelings made me feel a little less crazy. 🙂 The weekend at Laity was such a gift for my soul.
Insecurity, that’s IS what the enemy throws in when we are on the right path. He won’t get you down because there is a cloud of witnesses cheering you on!
Thanks for the link up!
Blessings to you on your journey.
Thank you, EvieJo. Thank you for reminding about the cloud of witnesses. I needed that.
Spiritual warfare is so real. The enemy knows our fears and insecurities. He knows our weaknesses. He knows where it hurts. Oddly, in terms of my walk with the Lord, the enemy might have his greatest hold over me in the blogosphere. I’m not a compulsive stats checker by any means, but I can’t help but notice how many people read my “about me” page but don’t follow. So I’m like: what is it about me that makes you think I’m not worthy? Usually, I decide it’s because I’ve been divorced. Sometimes, I think about taking out that part of my story. But I don’t because…you know what? It’s part of my story. Also because, ultimately, I prefer people who are openly broken. We’re all broken. I’m not so much drawn to people who pretend like they aren’t…or who pretend like they have it more together than. I like people who have been there and done that and aren’t afraid to say so. And I tell myself: I’d rather have 5 followers who like me as I really am than 1,000 who have no idea who I really am. Be who you are. It’s the one thing that can’t be duplicated. No one else can be you. And God’s continued blessings as you write.
You are so wise, Brandee. So very wise. And I’m glad that you’ve decided to keep the divorced part of your story in your bio. That’s important. It makes you totally relatable and real. I love you…
I feel this, all of it. And I often feel like a vascillating fan. One day I’m blown to confidence, the next day insecurity. And perhaps it’s God’s way of keeping me on my knees, my heart in the right place. Thank you for being transparent, for letting me know I’m not alone. I almost didn’t post today because the fan was pointing in the wrong direction, so glad I did after reading this.
Let us break bread together on our knees. Sitting with you, friend, in that grace pool, drowning.
it’s the number one tool of the Enemy. It’s crippling and it’s a lie. Great post that can help many people (me) who suffer from insecurity
Praying for you, and thankful that you’ve spoken what so many of us also feel. Hold fast to the fact that God has given you a wonderful gift, which you in turn are are using to His glory. It takes great courage to open up, to speak truth, and to be honest and bare your heart to the world. But it’s that very thing that the world needs most: People to love God and His people enough to take the risk and speak honestly into the darkness, holding out the light He put in you. You can do this; you *are* doing this, and it’s going to make a difference.
This reminds me of what our pastor has been preaching about lately – community. And that community really happens when we become vulnerable with one another. Thank you for doing that here. Your example inspires, because we’ve all been there!
God Bumps indeed – the novel I am writing is about silencing inner voices — just like those you expose here!
Push on dear Jennifer — He’s got you!
Oh, Jennifer, thanks for sharing…praying God will silence the enemy of lies and give you faith and peace that He will equip you for what He has called you, too…keep fighting, my friend 🙂
What a sweet privilege it has been to pray for you throughout this process. Oh, friend. He sees your heart. Is there anything more beautiful? Your friendship and grace humble me. What a blessing your book is already…conforming us to the shape of the cross even in process.
You are precious, and I can’t wait to read your words in book form.
So sorry to hear you were overwhelmed last week, Jennifer, but am glad you found comfort from friends. Press ON. Your message is a timely one, and I’m praying for your focus and determination. He Who began this good work in you…
I haven’t written a book (yet), but I have noticed that when I am writing something really God directed, like speaking His heart of love to someone who needs to know Him, it’s always when I am about to mail such a letter that the enemy pipes up to scare me. Those same exact thoughts… what will they think of you? What if they just think you are a kook? What if this is the wrong move right now? And above the fear, I realize fears and put downs are not coming from Him. So if that’s true…then it’s obvious who they ARE coming from. And it always comes to “step out in faith, send the writing out on my wings, child.” So many times I’ve been overcome with “what have I done” right after mailing such a letter… only to receive such heartfelt thanks from the recipient that confirms it was God’s leading. I think the same applies to a book – you are sending out His words. When you pray over it, lift it to His anointing, to His angels carrying it where it is supposed to go… only blessings will come forth. I know God is in your writing, Jen. I encourage you to stand firm against the lies coming at you… Blessings on your new book and trusting your heart (and book) in His hands. If you weren’t having those thoughts coming at you, that might be the time to wonder, because they are always a sign of God’s moving mightily.
Thank you for refusing to paste on, what my friend Melissa calls, “Plastic Fantastic” face.
I’m learning to take mine off more and more in safe community. Learning that it’s safe to be vulnerable is hard. Practicing it in safe community is harder.
Being vulnerable in a world full people both loving and unsafe?
It makes me tremble.
And as I tell God one more time why I cannot strip down to my heart and share it with others, He reminds me…
Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [[a]possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not [b]think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped [c]or retained,
But stripped Himself [of all privileges and [d]rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
Amplified Bible (AMP)
This post is such an encouragement to me. Right now I’m at the stage of speaking my God-sized dreams out loud…you know, where people can actually hear them, give opinions (wanted or not), and hold me accountable. It would be so easy to let fear keep me from going after these dreams, but that would be giving in to the enemy. So, if God is leading, I’m following…wherever He leads.
I’ll be praying.
Oh Jennifer, I have never published a nonfiction book, but I have had THE MOST personal essay I could ever write about my 20s published and boy was that scary. But out of that came comments from strangers thanking me for talking about the subjects I did and thanking me for being as vulnerable as I was. I think God loves when we make ourselves vulnerable because it shows we trust in Him more than we care about others’ opinions. I certainly know that He has been working on my heart concerning that – others’ opinions of me. I hear your heart on this and I am so glad for the encouragement you have received. May it never end and may you always cling to God for direction. I am so proud of you and I can’t wait to read your book! xoxxoo
Your gift of words so perfectly describes the battle within all of us when stepping out to minister for Christ… because in order to really do that with a genuine heart, we have to be vulnerable. It’s scary to say the least, but you said it beautifully when you wrote,”I have felt utterly cherished by my Savior. I have felt held.” May His strength and amazing love bless you in new and deeper ways in this exciting season of your life… AND I can’t wait for your book to be released, I will be one of the firsts to buy a pre-order copy! 🙂
Oh, dear friend, I AM praying- asking Jesus to silence the words of the enemy and to lavish His joy all over you, to spill it on the page and ooze it into your soul-marrow. He is PLEASED with your offering. It is beautiful. YOU are beautiful. Keep writing! I can’t WAIT to read what He pens through your willing hand.
THIS is what will make this book a treasure, Jennifer. The ability to speak the truth, to ask for help, to admit it ain’t always easy and to surround yourself with a community of friends. I am so sorry I missed that FB post, cuz I would have tried to encourage you in the moment of panic. You are right, that is the voice of our enemy, who wants to cut us off at the pass before we get our words of truth and grace and love out there where people might find God in them. God in you – that’s a winning combo, Jennifer Lee. BELIEVE IT.
I experienced the very same thing when I wrote the Legacy Bible study. It contains so much of my own story….my own very messed up story. Yet, those are the parts that have brought forth the most responses over the past 2 years. Authenticity. Transparency. It’s what helps people know you are real. It’s what the Lord uses to minister to others.
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for being real!
What an honest, transparent reveal of emotions we all experience, even though we have no reason to fear, for He will never leave us nor forsake us! Thanks for the great post and for hosting this supportive community, & God bless!
I’ve been following your blog for a number of weeks now. What keeps me coming back is: 1) The way you see the world with your heart as well as your eyes. 2) Your delightful writing style–unique phrases that creatively capture the essence of an idea. (The second sentence of this post is a perfect example.) 3) Your vulnerability. Your willingness to admit that under that beautiful, confident smile is a woman with difficulties and doubts. Those same elements that bring us to your blog will bring people to your book. Especially the vulnerability, which fosters trust. Truth can only be accepted from those we trust.
Oh, God has so got you, girl!….I like that!
Please hurry up with that book….I am in desperate need of it….a people pleaser…such a stronghold- still!
Prayers to you today. You can beat the fear. You are so brave! Thank you for writing this post. You are not alone. Sharing our vulnerability is scary, scary, scary, but that is also what makes this so powerful.
I love your heart, Jennifer–your deep, genuine love for the Lord and for others. Let that, along with supernatural sustenance, keep you moving forward through the fear. Your message is desperately needed in this world filled with much-afraids, people pleasers, and quiet perfectionists who want so badly to get everything just right.
We need your words, your stories, your encouragement. We need the Lord, working through You, to send His truth to our hearts.
Just what I needed to hear today! So very timely. Thank you for being faithful!
Approval addiction. Ahhhh, I know that country…built a summer cottage there.
I’m sorry that struggle has been rearing its painful head…I know that place and it causes me to constantly wrestle with pushing the PUBLISH button.
I just read Ann Voskamp’s October 23rd post about writing…it was the shot of courage and humility and perspective I needed.
Praying for your amazing gift to be illuminated by His strength in you, beautiful friend.