During her keynote speech at Allume one year, Ann Voskamp shared a story that not only stuck with me, but it also transformed the way I think about my relationships and decision making. She told of a time when her family attended a church event and her children were playing outside. Near the church were woods and a lake. One daughter asked how far away she could go while playing. She expected a concrete answer, but Ann’s husband replied, “If you can no longer hear my voice, you’ve gone too far.”
If you can no longer hear my voice, you’ve gone too far.
I’d been used to clearly defined boundaries, rules: Executing x, y, and z was the way to live life—and also gain approval and a sense of worth. I was the dutiful wife with a home-cooked dinner each evening; the housekeeper with mattress pads and matching bedding on each bed, laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away; the successful parent with well-disciplined children who wore matching socks; the faithful friend who sent birthday cards and scheduled play dates.
In short, I believed I had to do it all and do it well. I also believed that if I didn’t, God would not be pleased with me. Isn’t that the diligent, productive life the one He wanted for me?
Ann’s brief story highlighted for me that there is a different way to relate. Rather than perform to certain perceived standards, I could live in relationship with others.
It’s actually much more challenging in some respects. Rules can be clearly spelled out. You know when you’ve broken them. On the other hand, being in relationship requires engaging in the messiness of your life and those of others. It demands self-reflection and investing in other people.
Functioning in the abstract of real life relationships is risky. It involves making mistakes and learning from them. It requires vulnerability, and vulnerability is scary.
Brené Brown explains it well in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are:
To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.
Brene Brown also talks about values like courage and living with your whole heart being stronger than your fear. You may be fearful to try something new—a project, a job, a relationship—because you may fail. However, even in the event of a perceived failure, you’ve chosen to live your values. You’ve been authentic.
Sounds a little like the life of a God-sized dreamer, doesn’t it? So, what’s a dreamer to do concretely with that fear?
I will ask myself a few questions:
- What am I afraid of specifically?
- What’s the worst that can happen?
- What is the likelihood that the worst will happen?
- If it does, then what?
I find that my worst case scenarios rarely, if ever, play out. I have always survived and even thrived when things don’t go as planned. In other words, fear is just a bully!
So, dreamer, call fear out. Look it straight in the eye and tell it who’s boss. Refuse to let it box you into a small world of perceived safety. Instead, push through with confidence, knowing you’re flourishing in the much more fulfilling world of authenticity.
Shared by: Mandy Mianecki