Pain or Power?
At the age of 24, something happened in my life I was not expecting and could do nothing about. I was pregnant, married five years but never intending to have children. I knew I was not like my mother — she was the best mom ever, playful, fun, kind, giving. I did not have what it took to be a mother. It was so far from my mind that I was three months pregnant before I went to the doctor to find out what was wrong with me. THREE MONTHS! The nurse skipped happily into the examining room gleefully announcing I was pregnant. I didn’t even like children. As a teenager, I did not babysit — that was my sister’s job and she was great at it. The news the nurses brought was not good to me. There was absolutely no way out for me. At the same time I was pregnant, a friend of mine was too. She would talk about how she bonded with the baby and how excited she was. I cried every day for six months and would shake my fist at God. Thankfully, I had a psychology degree. I understood that I needed to start my psychological care of the baby in the womb. I would shake my fist at God, scream at him for what He’d done to me and then I’d turn to my belly and lovingly rub it and tell the baby, “I’m so sorry you had to hear that.”
A full 24 hours after he was born, I finally realized I needed a perspective change. When I surrendered to the fear and confessed to God he would have to do this through me, everything in me shifted. I remember saying to the baby, “I have everything I need to be your mom.” (BTW, those of you who are worried, motherhood has been my absolute favorite role in life.) But for six months fear gripped me, strangled me, paralyzed me and tried to rob me.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
What? Is she saying strength, courage and confidence are just on the other side of fear? DID YOU KNOW THAT!?!
I want strength, courage, and confidence, I just want it to be on this side of fear — not the other side. Most of us see fear as pain. Let me say that again, fear in our minds equals pain. With a perspective shift, we can see it as a place of power — a place to operate in courage, not a place of pain.
Joshua followed the greatest leader of the ancient Israelite world, Moses. You know Moses — he made it to the Hollywood screen. He was a man bigger than life, a man who performed the miraculous, who led under dire circumstances, who brought an entire nation out of slavery. No one can follow in his footsteps and yet that was Joshua’s assignment. When Moses died and Joshua was stepping into the leadership role, God said to him, “Be strong and courageous!” He said it multiple times. Here’s what I’m thinking: when someone is feeling strong and courageous, there is no need to repeatedly tell them to be strong and courageous. If, however, they are feeling weak and fearful, you’re going to need to repeat that mantra many times. The great Joshua who lead the Israelite nation into the Promised Land had to intentionally chose courage.
In the face of fear, courage is a beautiful option and it moves us out of a place of pain and into a place of power.