Friday, January 29, 2016

Giant Baby Steps

We often think of big decisions as giant steps or leaps of faith. In my experience, however, what appears as a big decision is likely made up of countless little choices. Baby steps.

And even baby steps sometimes feel like terrifying, giant leaps.

Three examples come to mind.

I remember laughing once or twice at the cautions people gave us during our adoption process. Something about not rushing in. I laughed because with all of the papers and interviews and fingerprints and processes (and money) involved, I'm pretty sure nobody has ever adopted internationally on a whim. It would be impossible. Every step required effort, from researching agencies to attending trainings to home studies to immigration paperwork. Over and over we made the choice again to pursue adopting our son. It was not one giant leap. There were hundreds of steps involved. (Do I need to say I'm so glad we did it? I'M SO GLAD WE DID IT.)

There may have been less paperwork involved with moving overseas as missionaries, but there were just as many steps and decisions. Like when to... Tell the family. Contact the missions agency. Tell our pastor. Fill out the first application. Tell church leadership team. Don't tell anyone else. Attend the week-long interview. Fill out the rest of the application. Sign up for psychological evaluation. Say yes to the invitation to training. Tell the rest of the church. List the house for rent. Move to Canada for training. Learn to say, "eh?" and drink Tim Horton's. (wink.) Say yes to vulnerability with trainees. Say yes to Peru. Figure out a potential timeline. (I think you get the point.) There were a lot of steps and each one required effort and courage and determination and making a choice. Over and over we had to choose to keep going rather than turn back. It was in that season God taught me this important lesson:
Indecision and doubt are enemies of perseverance.
It is very, very hard to persevere when you haven't made up your mind or aren't sure you can do something.

This is the example I am living right now. Most of you don't know that I have been dreaming for the last several years about writing a book (because I haven't made the choice and taken the step to tell you!) about our journey to Peru and back. I have had this little project tucked away in my heart and our dropbox because I'm scared of showing it to practically anyone. I'm slowly working on it, but have wrestled over and over and over with whether or not I really want to do it. (Remember what I said up there about indecision and doubt?)

Every time I decide (once again), "Yes. I am going to write this book." another choice confronts me. So maybe I'll write it, but will I let anyone read it? Maybe. Maybe I'll get it printed by my friends in Peru and keep the copies in my trunk and whenever I feel led to share my soul on paper with someone I can hand them a copy. (Sounds safe and fair enough.) OR will I sell it online so anyone can buy it? Will I tell The World or just my little world? Will I dare to go to this retreat coming up by some authors I like? Because if I do, I'm pretty sure my safe little boat is going to get rocked and WHAT IF GOD TRIES TO LEAD ME TO ACTUALLY TURN IN A BOOK PROPOSAL TO A REAL PUBLISHER??? (Hold on while I hyperventilate just a little bit, please.)

Even though my email inbox is flooded with the secrets to a great book launch and how to write and market a best-seller, I don't actually want to go there. I've just barely accepted the idea of a quiet, little printing process..... that I can control.

(I typed those last words r e a l l y  s l o w l y . . .)

S i g h . . .

Lord, is that really what this is about? I want to keep control of my story because I don't trust others to be kind and I don't trust You to protect my heart in the process? I'm so sorry.

Friend, maybe you're in the middle of your own Big Decision that is made up of lots of tiny choices. Can we do this together? Even if we aren't quite ready to say "YES" to the next step, can we at least say "NO" to some enemies?

By your power and in your name, Jesus, I say no to fear. I say no to doubt. I say no to my desire to control and protect my story and my heart. I say no to fear of failure. I say no to fear of man. To fear of rejection and to worry and anxiety. And I do say yes to You, Holy Spirit. Yes to your power at work in my weaknesses. Yes to weakness turned into strength. And yes to letting the Family of God encourage me in this journey.

I have held back sharing because I've been afraid people wouldn't understand my dream and I wouldn't feel validated and that might mean I should quit. I've also felt like I needed to be sure all by myself before I shared with anyone else because I needed to not depend on validation from others. This morning, however, I believe God showed me the third way. (There's almost always a third way.)
Share with others in the Body, not for the sake of validation, but for the sake of mutual encouragement.
What would it be like if I invite you to take this journey with me? What if I let you and others encourage me? What if just being in this with me encourages you on your journey and inspires you to take your own scary baby steps?
What if I stop making this about me and instead make it about God and His people?

That's a lot harder to say "no" to.

If nothing else, I'm sure I don't want fear to be my reason for not making a choice. Even if I take no other steps today, I may find saying "no" to fear is a big enough baby step after all. For today, at least.

Walk By Faith...
Walk with me?