By Brendan Slovacek
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, or something like that. Right?
You’re literally wasting your time and energy by letting fear control your life. I’m not going to hold back the punches here; you’ve got to let your fear know who’s boss. The sad reality is that there are times in all of our lives where we let fear control our actions, when in fact fear should be nothing more than an emotion.
Five years ago, I was facing down the reality that I was now a college-aged student. I was accepted in several major universities and then my dream school (Franciscan University of Steubenville), and 18 year old me had a pretty set life and career in front of me. But sitting in the back of my mind was the idea of mission work; I wanted to preach the Gospel for a living, but I also wanted to be successful in life, and becoming a lawyer and politician was a safe route.
However, as I volunteered at my old youth group for one last year before I was supposed to go to school, I found myself sitting in a retreat with an organization called NET Ministries. NET Ministries recruits 180 young adults every year to be missionaries and travel the country proclaiming the Gospel through retreats and discipleship work. I never would have seen stepping away from life for a year as a sign of a successful person.
“Seriously,” I thought to myself, “What a bunch of losers.”
Had I known then what God had in store for me, I think I probably would’ve taken off running when the NET team walked through the door. Slowly, throughout the retreat, I got to know each person on the team and hear about their lives, how Christ changed each of them, and how most of them originally never wanted to do NET. In fact, these “losers” who had taken a year off college or their career to be Christ’s face to the young people in America had actually gained so much more than if they had stayed in their daily lives. A lot of them certainly were afraid to give so much of themselves and step into the unknown, but they did it anyway and it changed them (and the people around them) for the better.
In a big shock to everyone around me, I deferred my acceptance to my schools and applied to join NET Ministries. Soon enough, I was traveling around the United States, living and breathing the love of God, and eventually I even found my way to join NET Ministries Australia. The level of transformation God caused in me is immeasurable. I was renewed with life yet again because I said yes to God, and no to fear.
Taking a year off school and traveling the countryside with an organization like NET is a radical example, and it’s not for everyone. But let’s not kid ourselves, you’re all grown up now (cue the Rugrats theme song, my 90’s babies) and there’s a lot of areas in your life where you need to tell fear to shut the hell up.
Fear is a feeling, but bravery is an action, and we’re called to act. It may be a job offer across the country; pursuing a relationship with that person; even joining a new parish and community. The fears you’re facing are NOTHING compared to the glory that God has in store. Isaiah 43:1 hits this pretty clear on the head: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name and you are Mine.” The only thing fear does is makes you turn and run away from God when He’s calling your name, and you’re better than that.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of this when he told us all “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort- you were made for greatness.” It’s time to step out of the comfort zone, ladies and gents. It’s time for you let the only person who is filled with fear be the devil- let Satan be afraid of how much God is going to work through you. It’s not easier, but it’s better than living a life full of regret, wondering what God would’ve done in your life if you took that leap of faith.
If you feel God is calling you somewhere, don’t drive in the opposite direction. We have thousands of years of saints and other figures who all can prove that running away from God is never a good idea. It’s not as complicated as you think; just be courageous, be brave, and (in the words of the Book of Nike) JUST DO IT.
Suck it up, buttercup. Fear not.
You were made for this.