Chasing Inspiration

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fear and Joy

I had a bit of a meltdown this week. Last week I learned that I wasn't going to move forward in interviews toward a position I was really excited about. Last week I had a few hours of "But why, God? Why?" and then I pushed back into job search mode. However, it seemed that every open door closed on me. Ever. Single. One. And the determination I forced myself into started to crack and crumble beneath me.

I entered into fear. Fear is not all bad. Fear of something that is truly dangerous can preserve our lives instead of allowing us to rush headlong into something foolishly. However, fear can be that thing that keeps you paralyzed in a life you don't want to be living. It can cause you to be inactive, to become a victim. To never experience life. Fear can keep you from risking, from trying, from failing.

And that's just wrong. Failure is not a bad thing. Failure allows you to learn. How many inventors out there failed and failed and failed over and over again until they got it right? They learned something from each failure that moved them forward to success. They may have been fearful that they would never find the answer, but they didn't let fear defeat them.

And yesterday, that's where I was. Letting fear defeat me. Before I had even tried. I made up stories in my head that fed the fear and when my husband came home from work I was a weepy mess of a woman. He talked me off the ledge, as did a dear friend who is constantly reminding me to turn to God when I am afraid. And once I was off that ledge, I started to think about my fears. Where did they come from and how could I defeat them. I know where some of them come from. Others elude me. But I do know that one cure for fear is joy. There is no room for fear when you fill your heart and soul and life with joy.

These are hard times for people to choose joy. Yes, choose. A deliberate action that allows joy to come into our lives. I was reminded this morning as I looked around my home office for a book to motivate me, that joy is a choice. Tim Hansel, author and speaker and one who lives in chronic pain, wrote in his book You Gotta Keep Dancin', that
Joy is something which defies circumstances and occurs in spite of difficult situations. Whereas happiness is a feeling, joy is an attitude. A posture. A position. A place.
When I have joy, there isn't room for the fear to suck the life out of me. That doesn't mean that joy is foolish or simplistic or denial of one's situation. I've been laidoff. When unemployment runs out, if I don't have a job, there won't be income coming in to even partially cover what I was making before. This is fact. But, I can be anxious or fearful about it, as I have been. Or I can choose joy and find the opportunities in the situation and listen to life and learn the lessons I'm being directed to learn.

Joy doesn't abdicate me from my responsibilities to work to find a job. Joy gives me the strength to do so with an attitude that is light instead of an attitude that is doomed.

I wonder how Mallory, the character in my current work-in-progress, would say if I gave her this little pep talk. Mallory is living in a world of fear. And she's stalled. Stuck. Perhaps it's time for her to take a look around and start to replace some of that fear with joy so she can start dancing again. Perhaps I should, as well.


  1. Keep on keeping on. You must do the thing you fear the most...

    Thank you for the birthday wishes!

  2. Hey sweetie! Yes, sometimes we must do the thing we fear the most. And I fear starting my own business.

    Happy birthday, again! And let's get together soon. Evening/weekend. I'll email you!