This week I did something. It wasn’t well thought out. It wasn’t anguished over. It was just done. Impulsively, spontaneously, quickly.
And yet, for all of my non-thinking beforehand, it has led to a wealth of overthinking since. “Typical,” you would think if you knew me at all. I’m a ‘Type A’, a ‘Monica’, and an extrovert with an uncontrollable urge to write, so humour me as I turn my ‘did I do the right thing?’ internal debate into a ‘for anyone who will listen’ anti-internal blogpost.
So I do the thing. It’s happened. And then come the ‘what ifs?’
What if it leaves a scar?
Now, had I given the thing I did any thought at all, this ‘what if?’ would have been obvious. Of course there was a risk it would leave a scar. Risks can scar. It is a chance we always take in stepping out, changing our status quo.
For a moment I wished I hadn’t. I wouldn’t have been having this internal-turned-external dialogue with myself (and you!) if I had never stepped foot into that place. But then I felt God remind me afresh: ‘risks can scar.’ That job you applied for that you didn’t get. That relationship you invested in and didn’t work. That time you shared your faith and got pushed back. Risks can scar. I realised then that I am petrified of making the wrong choices, of regretting, of looking back and wishing I’d done differently. But is that any reason for me not to step out? “To love is to be vulnerable,” says C.S. Lewis, “the only way to avoid it is to give your heart to no one, wrap it carefully … lock it up safe.” Perhaps the same can be said for risk? To avoid scars we should wrap ourselves up, never step out, never shake the status quo. But this is not the life Jesus called us to. Now, I’m not saying that I think Jesus would mind either way about the thing I did this week. But I know he doesn’t want me to live in fear of wrong choices. He doesn’t want my anxiety over regret to stop me stepping out, having fun, taking risks. But…
What if no one notices?
So I did this thing. And I (clearly!) felt this was significant. That I looked different, that people would see me differently. But no one noticed. They thought it was always there, they thought that’s how I’d always been. No one. Noticed.
Now, despite my super wise sister’s demands to ‘not speak labels over myself’ (amen!) I fit the typical ‘middle child’ mould; fun, vivacious, all singing, all dancing and not adverse to a bit of spotlight (just a little bit brighter, please). So I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done things for the praise of others before. There was that time I painted a picture just to put it on Instagram. The time I turned ’emo’ shockingly quickly for a shockingly quick relationship. The time I played down my faith because I just ‘wanted to fit in.’ In fact, wanting to fit in is a big theme in my little life. But that’s not the life Jesus called us to. He called us to live our lives for an audience of One. And that One is an audience who is clapping and cheering with every step we take towards Him. God is a good good father; that’s who He is. But…
What if my parents don’t like it?
My father in heaven may not mind the thing I did but what if my earthly parents did? Over and above being a people-pleaser, I am a parent-pleaser. I love to make them proud. I am beyond bias but for me, they are heroes. My dad is a rocker, home music producer, fixer, doctor, reliable, passionate man. My mum is beauty personified (inside and out): so clever, tenacious and kind. Needless to say, I take after both. 😉
But when I did the thing I did this week, I realised – it’s the first decision I’ve made without externally processing it with them first. Suddenly terror filled me. What if they thought my decision was reckless? What if they thought I’d regret it? Worse, what if they were sad I’d done it? Perhaps not normal emotions for a 27 year old to feel. Then I felt God say, this anxiety does not give them credit. They have always brought me up knowing unconditional love, knowing my inherent value and encouraging me to think for myself.
So this thing I did – impulsively, spontaneously, quickly – will remain (for now) as evidence that I’m not scared of scars, that I’m not scared of doing things that go unnoticed and that I’m not scared of making decisions for myself.
And finally, of evidence that God speaks in the big and the small, in this case, a teeny tiny nose stud…