I have a countdown app on my phone because I love a good countdown. Recently I added a really fun one: a European cruise! I leave in 22 days, and I added it to the app about four weeks ago. It’s been a whirlwind four weeks and it still doesn’t feel like I am actually going. I feel like I will wake up the day we’re supposed to leave and it will all be some crazy dream.
I have this thing where I call my grandma from the airport. I do it almost every time because it’s a place where I am free from all distractions and can have a good catch up session with her. I called her recently from my house to wish her a happy birthday and to tell her about the cruise. She told me, “Oh Krista! You are such a go-getter!” I chuckled and agreed with her and didn’t think much of it until later.
It’s been a week since we had that conversation and I’m still thinking about it. I feel like I lead a pretty boring life, but I have spent the last week thinking about the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen and I am only starting to begin to understand that for someone who grew up the way I did, I have done a lot of amazing things. Well, honestly compared to most people I’ve done a lot of amazing things.
I’ve been to Africa. I’ve been to Central America. I’m going to Europe and Israel. I’ve flown to Missouri, Texas, Idaho, Alabama, Colorado, and Hawaii. I’ve driven to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I’ve driven to Idaho through Nevada and Utah. I have seen so little of this world, yet so much compared to so many.
I didn’t fly for the first time until I was 18 years old. I had graduated high school and was going to El Salvador on a mission trip. That’s right, my first travel by air was to a different country. I’d been to the airport dozens of times, nearly every summer as a teenager to pick my cousins up from the airport when they flew in to stay with their dad and his wife, my aunt. But I had never gotten on that plane myself until an early morning in August 2001.
I felt exactly one time before 9/11 happened. And I didn’t fly again until many years after that, when I went to visit people in South Africa. So my second flight? Also to a different country. A few years later I felt alone for the first time to Missouri to visit a friend. And every year since then, I’ve flow a few times a year, mostly to visit my friends, sometimes for work.
I don’t love flying. But I love the experiences I’ve had, so it’s worth a six-hour flight to Hawaii or a 24-hour series of flights to South Africa. What good is that fear if I cannot push beyond it?
That’s really what I want to write about — not flying but fighting fear.
So much of my life I lived in fear — fear of what others would or could do to me (physically or mentally or emotionally), fear of getting hurt, fear of being just like the people who hurt me. For a long time, that fear is what kept me down, and then, not long after I graduated high school, the fear became what drove me.
Something shifted. I wanted to do big things and be an amazing person and I realized that everything I was afraid of was what was going to hold me back. But I didn’t fully know how to fight through those emotions and it wasn’t until after I got put on academic probation for the second time while in college that the old fears fell away and the new fear told hold.
I was suddenly passionately afraid of failure.
I didn’t want to live like my birth mother did.
I didn’t want to struggle in a dead-end, minimum wage job.
I didn’t want to always long for adventure but never have the means to go.
I wanted to see people and places. I wanted to live a life that I was proud to look back on. I wanted to say, “I’m so scared right now but I am going to push through this.” And that is exactly what I did.
You guys. That is HARD. It still is hard! It is so much easier to let the fear dictate my life and plans. Fear makes it easy to say no. Fear makes me rationalize settling for less than my dreams and the things I want to chase. It is easier to be afraid than it is to be brave, but the thing about bravery is that it’s like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger and bigger it gets.
These days, I don’t live free from fear, but I have learned to see my fearful attitudes when they first begin to take root and I have learned how to crush them.
I think about how when my book first came out and people began reading it. I was terrified that it was in people’s hands and people’s brains because it was every sad and awful secret I could carry. I was afraid of what it would like for someone like me to work at a church. I was afraid people would look at me and think of me as less. They knew me as a young woman in the church. There would going to know we as a little girl and a teenager consumed by sin. How would, I feared, people reconcile the Krista now and the Krista then?
But I pushed through because God told me to be obedient. And the rewards of that obedience have been so rich. I have had countless women share their own stories of abuse and sexual assault with me. I have cried alongside of and walked through painful pasts with friends. And if I had let that fear win, none of that would have happened.
So when I’m walking on the streets of Israel in just a few weeks, standing where Jesus stood, I will remember that He called me to live a life beyond the fear. Whether that’s flying or writing a book, I am so glad He’s made me up for the adventure.