The crickets are in full chorus, and, for me, that’s always a sure sign of the approach of fall.
In all its breathtaking beauty, pristine skies, and warm color, fall overtakes summertime, yet I struggle to say goodbye to our Canadian summer. With fading flowers, shorter days, and cooler nights, September will bring with it the new school year and the added challenges due to COVID.
We’ve already seen so much change and made so many adjustments. I’m amazed at our resiliency to face unknowns and navigate countless uncharted routes. How we’ve persevered and continued to try new things is remarkable. How we’ve kept going and reaching for our dreams despite uncertainty or loss is inspiring.
Stepping into new and unknown territory, or continuing forward on the current climb, can be unnerving. We want to know the route in advance, to have all the possible unknowns nailed down, to make sure we don’t get derailed. But in truth, we can’t and don’t have to. All the planning in the world can’t ensure a perfect outcome or ideal conditions.
Being courageous or trying new things doesn’t mean a lack of fear. It means treading forward onto new ground despite fear. It means with every step forward we tramp over fear until we have reached our destination. There may be some detours, some tough climbs, some falling rocks, but we stay the course, undaunted by the fallout.
Don’t be fooled. Trying new or hard things swings the door wide on fear, but what if we renegotiate our thought life and say that fear’s proximity signals we are on the right track? Its arrival means we are stretching ourselves and reaching and learning and growing. We are moving forward, conquering the rough bits, and refusing to atrophy.
Mistakes? Bring them on! They too need to be rewired in our thought process. Our brain will expand through missteps, and we will grow more sure-footed. Mistakes—or wilderness wandering—is often preparation for future treks. Through them, we learn to trust God more fully, we grow in wisdom, and gather more grip for the next hard thing. Wrapped in His forgiveness and grace, and increasing in confidence, we will lunge forward, like a cliff climber reaching upward to grasp the smallest rocky outcrop that seems almost out of reach.
Before we know it, we are challenging others to try hard things or to join us in ours. Then one bright day, we pause to check the map and discover how far we’ve come. We smile because at that moment we realize that although it wasn’t easy or perfect, we scaled the unknowns and arrived. It was worth the climb, and more than that, we are no longer the same as when we began. We are stronger and wiser, and our character has grown.
Somewhere along the journey, fear—overshadowed by courage—became a bystander.
My courageous step forward this fall is beginning to write my third book. Fear is lurking and eager to heap on discouragement. But I’m choosing to believe that it’s a signal I’m on the right track. I’m reaching and moving forward despite imperfections and unknowns. Each written word is a step forward in my climb, my journey, and I trust its completion will be worth the effort. After all, my word of the year is Fearless! And while that may not mean a complete lack of fear, I can definitely fear-less.
As you approach this fall, with its many unknowns and invitations to fear, be reminded that with every step forward, you are not only moving ahead, but also growing, learning, and developing. It’s not about the absence of fear, or fully controlling the conditions, it’s about taking one small and courageous step at a time and enjoying the view.
May you be enfolded by the grace and mercy of the Father, trusting that one glorious day all the twists and turns of your journey will make sense.
“The way we deal with uncertainty says a lot about whether Jesus is ahead of us leading or just behind us carrying our stuff.” ~ Bob Goff
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11