When Fear Takes Over, Take Courage

Arms wrap around shoulders and cheeks touch goodbye one last time before I crawl into the passenger seat next to H. “Go ahead and cry now, you know you want to,” he says as we back out of the driveway, young arms waving wildly on the front lawn. And I do, I want to cry . . . every time.

An anniversary trip to Europe sings joy until the suitcases of reality load in the trunk and we pull away from secure and predictable. Anxiety reminds of what I hold on to, that needs letting go.

Because I can sink into the couch of a well-planned schedule – the way they like their eggs cooked,  sandwiches made, the laundry folded – and miss His pulling back the welcome curtain to the world that doesn’t look like us.

Finding security in control of the small in the everyday, it tricks me into thinking I have any control at all.

Until we touch down on English soil, walk through customs into a world of taking seats on the opposite side of experience. It’s then that fear, the invisible third person in the car, joins me as a passenger to driving on the other side of the road. We clench together stiff along the narrow, winding journey of beautiful change.

Fear whispers questions in my ear, about what might happen if we have an accident, if he inadvertently pulls into the right lane when it should be the left. Or if we lose control driving at high speed. What then? 

And if fear sits beside me, freedom smiles next to H looking at me puzzled. Because freedom rooted in generations of walking faith, it doesn’t speak the language of fear.

Fear is my unwelcome relative, part of the family tree for generations that shows up unexpectedly to parties I host for risk and adventure. He weezles his way into crowded thoughts, plants doubt when no one is looking, then spreads out safe and secure like a picnic with a basket full of excuses.

And the only way to release him from lurking around in the kitchen of cooked up dreams is to send courage in to tell him to go home.

Courage is the humble guest that sees clear through crowded rooms of fear. He understands the purpose in risk and adventure, sacrifices Himself to get there for love.

I choose to follow Courage careening narrow along stone walls flanking green quilt dotted woolly white.  Walk over fear to the other side of predictable along cobblestone streets and underground stares.  He knows where He is going, the way to get there. And the path looks a lot like love.

The act of courage calls forth infallibly that deeper part of ourselves that supports and sustains us. ~Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Does fear keep you from fulfilling dreams? From experiencing adventure?

Counting gifts with Multitudes on Monday, giving thanks to change the way we see:

  • For my husband that was born with a GPS in his mind. The way he navigates, gets us around a country on the opposite side of experience with joy.
  • Harrison’s recovery from a mysterious virus that knocked him down for a month.
  • Geri, my mother-in-law, the way she takes care of things at home so we can travel free of mental lists and worry.
  • Sunny and dry weather in England, after a record month of rain.
  • Fresh croissants and scones with tea.
  • No cooking or dishes for ten days.
  • Staying at a castle the night of my 22nd wedding anniversary.
  • Geri brining my forgotten computer bag from home to the airport before our flight boarded.
  • That yummy English breakfast every.single.morning.
  • Seeing dear friends, hugging long, even if only for one hour.
  • Harrods displaying an ad on seven floors of escalators to the place where I live – irony.

Also linking with Playdates with God, Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday, Miscellany Monday, Just Write, On Your Heart Tuesday, Soli Deo Gloria, Better Mom Monday.

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103 Responses to When Fear Takes Over, Take Courage

  1. Sandra says:

    Hi – just come across your blog I’m English but living in Belgium. Strange to think of someone being afraid of England. Hope everyone made you welcome!

    • Oh Sandra, so nice to meet you. I was only afraid of the driving part, not the people. We have lots of dear friends there and met many more on our journey. England feels like home for me, I’m longing to go back almost every day.

  2. pastordt says:

    It’s the traveling away from children at home that is truly scary, I think. It was always worse for me when that was my life. Now it happens most often when I must travel alone – something I began to do as I entered ministry. I.was.terrified. Prayed my way through annual pastoral gatherings, committee & board meetings, etc. And I always carried pieces of home with me – pictures of my kids and grandkids, a tiny CD player (way before iPods!) with favorite music, a shawl to throw over the end of the bed. Those small things helped me find my way to courage when I most needed it. Glad you moved right on thru it, that you had a wonderful trip and that now you’re back, refreshed and inspired for new adventures!

    • Oh Diana, it gives me so much comfort knowing that a seasoned veteran in the faith like you still gets nervous and fearful when it comes to those things. I think my husband is my security blanket most of the time and when he isn’t with me, I feel vulnerable. But I am learning to be a grown up, all on my own. Kicking fear to the curb, seeing it for what it is, just something in the way of destiny.

  3. Funny how control has a way of tricking us huh? Love your photos! I would love to get back there for an anniversary trip!

  4. Julia says:

    How beautiful and poignant. I love your writing voice.

  5. Love! I believe we teach our kids invaluable un-spoken lessons when they see us go forth in spite of our fear (to include letting go of their little hands when we must). What a beautiful anniversary trip!

    • I think you are so right. If I didn’t go away once in awhile we might all just stay curled up on the couch indefinitely! It gives all of us perspective when we expereience new places, for the ones that go and stay behind.

  6. dberonilla says:

    You have a real way with words! What a beautifully told tale. Your descriptions really struck a chord with me, especially when you describe fear as being an invisible third passenger.
    Great work!

  7. I’ve often let fear stop me in my tracks. Thank you for this beautiful reminder that Courage is the answer…always.

    And I always have those moments of anxiety upon leaving for a trip. I’ll look forward and plan and anticipate, and then when the day comes to finally leave, those anxieties creep in and take over.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely post.

  8. Your pics are amazing and your trip sounds fantastic. Glad you kicked fear to the curb! Erin

  9. Susan says:

    yes, courage. i fear leaving that tiny baby so much that i can barely breathe thinking about it. so good for you to conquer yours.

    • Oh, I remember those years when they are new and we feel like they are pieces of china . . .and then they grow up like my teenagers and we have to set them free. So glad you stopped by.

  10. Having the courage to battle fear is such an ongoing process. I think you really nailed it here!

  11. “He weezles his way into crowded thoughts, plants doubt when no one is looking, then spreads out safe and secure like a picnic with a basket full of excuses.” I love this visual. That is exactly what He does. I wish I could find a way to kick him out of my parties too.

  12. jdaniel4smom says:

    Letting go of fear is such a freeing experience. I am so glad that you were able to do it.

  13. Vanessa says:

    Your pictures are so lovely. If I am ever able to travel, I would love to see Ireland, England and Scotland.

  14. I know about those fears all too well.. I love how you combine your writing and photo’s.
    Beautiful.

  15. Beautiful photos and wonderful philosophy – courage, always courage.

  16. What an important reminder to embrace courage!

  17. Mayor Gia says:

    Very apt descriptions of courage and fear!

  18. I love Europe! I knew from the fist photo that was Europe! Pray tell, where is this taken?

    • Yay, so glad you knew it! Most of these photos were taken in the North of England in Chester and the Lakes District as well as Edinburgh, Scotland. So glad you visited, hope you will come again.

  19. Joan says:

    Shelly – I believe fear can keep us from stepping out. I’ve been guilty many times of letting those “what if”s take over. I like the analogy you used of fear being the unwelcomed family member and courage being the humble guest. I could say the same thing about myself.

    I’m glad you had a wonderful vacation and welcome home!

    • I can relate to the “what ifs” ruling my life. It’s like having to unlearn the way you think naturally every.single.time. Thankfully I am married to a man who embodies the gift of faith and he is a great role model. Look forward to visiting you later Joan.

  20. Been feeling the grip of fear during this job transition, Shelly, so yes, I get this.

    Beautiful writing, beautiful photos, beautiful trip.

  21. Delilah says:

    Gorgeous pictures! My mom is from England and we lived over there during the summers when I was a child. I miss it so much!

  22. Shelly,

    How fun to stumble onto your blog from Ann Voskamp’s, and to be drawn into your post so quickly. Have a wonderful time in England with your initials-only and GPS-prowess man. May Fear be booted and may Joy reign.

    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jenniferdougan.com

  23. mckenzie21 says:

    Oh wow, your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I would love to visit any place in Europe, one day!
    Stopping by from Miscellany Monday :D

  24. tereasamansfield says:

    I’m so glad you’re back. I enjoyed seeing your facebook posts while you were away. This post is beautiful. Driving away fear with courage is big. You are so blessed to have a husband with such a strong legacy to share with you!

  25. ljbmom says:

    So glad that you didn’t let fear crowd out corkage, Shelly. Your pictures are breathtaking. Welcome home, friend.

  26. Ado says:

    This was BEAUTIFUL and so were your photos! My husband is from Europe, I lived there for 5 years, this makes me pine for it. Did I tell you your photos are gorgeous? Did I?? (-:

    • Thanks for your kind words about the photos. I think I took over 1,000. I wanted to capture everything I was seeing except they still don’t quite do the view justice. I already can’t wait to go back. Don’t know when that will be, but I am sure to go back. So glad you visited.

  27. Seamless says:

    Oh, you have no idea how this resonated with me. Fear is my greatest struggle. Sometimes it feels as if I’m the only one. Thank you so much for sharing so candidly.

    • Oh, I am so glad this resonated, what a gift you have given me. It’s one of the things I love about blogging the most, the way it assures us that we are not alone in our plight. I actually posted that on FB today before I saw your comment.

  28. “Send courage in and tell him to go home” Love that. Your post reminded me of trip my husband and I took to Ireland several years ago. We drove from Dublin to Galway and were terrified! Every time we got in the car we would each say out loud “left side, left side, left side” :)

  29. Shanda says:

    OH, traveling in far away places is such a joyous and peaceful experience: far away from the day to day grind. I find much less fear in ministering in unknown areas than in my own neighbourhood.

  30. Denise says:

    Looks like a great trip.

  31. tara pohlkotte says:

    oh, i was so hoping your trip was everything you wanted. and knowing you and i are alike, that you would just let go. and enjoy all that is out there to offer. it sounds as if you have grown. i hope your trip was as wonderful as your pictures are! xoxo

    • I think I have grown, feeling settled and unsure all at once. It was a wonderful time away. So much so that we weren’t ready to come home to real life. Thanks for thinking of me friend.

      • tara pohlkotte says:

        “feeling settled and unsure all at once” – ha. sounds like growth to me! it feels right and scary as all get out, all at once :) and if you aren’t ready to come that means it was the best kind of trip!!

  32. You bless me… I love your true honest heart. Going into the unknown for us, is never unknown to God — I rest in that. All things uncertain for us, are certain with God. These opportunities that can evoke fear, are opportunities for God to show off, show up strong on our behalf as we rest on our Abba…

    I love this, “He knows where He is going, the way to get there. And the path looks a lot like love.”

    Always, love.

    Blessings to you, friend :)

  33. kellizaniel says:

    Wow this is beautiful! Choosing faith over fear isn’t easy, but God releases it all when we go and sit at his feet. Gorgeous photos!

  34. socksformum says:

    We are heading there next year, Lord willing. What a wonderful way to celebrate your anniversary – in a castle! What hits me when I am on the other side of the vast Atlantic in a foreign place is how the Lord is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e and we Americans are just little crickets in comparison to the Old World. It sounds like He put a hedge around you so you could have a very special vacation and how wonderful that He is always with us on all of our travels!

  35. Dea says:

    I don’t know which of them wrote this in their letters but Ann and/or Holley (Gerth) wrote: “Fear is nothing to be afraid of—it is just the door we push through to get to the other side.” And your words they resonate with me as well. I am so thankful you grabbed courage and took her with you.

    Six times I have traveled abroad without my man to minister in countries far from comfort, two of them communist countries—one of them particularly daunting as I entered the jetway with a armed soldier by the plane’s door! But what miracles I would have missed had I not had courage to go and go again. God is so good!

    So glad your home. Don’t get too comfortable :) Tell us more…

    • Dea, love that quote. I read something similar in the War of Art on the plane. And I have taken of few of those trips you mention, way back when to the Iron Curtain when things were not secure. But the fact that you did those trips without your man makes you even more courageous in my mind. I can have courage with my man navigating. :) So glad you stopped by and thanks for praying for me. I plan to share lots more . . .and not stay comfortable.

  36. Alicia says:

    Oh, the pictures here make me homesick for the days when my husband and I traipsed around England as college students in love! Blessings as you adventure and learn and relish your gifts.

  37. kelly says:

    love it, Shelly, keep adventuring!

  38. Beth says:

    I completely get this, Shelly. My husband and I are going to England and Wales in October for our 25th and I am a bit fearful of all that comes with traveling–especially to a foreign country. But your pictures and your words give me courage to go on a beautiful adventure with my hubby as well! So glad to hear that your son is doing better! I’ve been praying! God is good! :)

    • Beth, you will have such a great time and how fun that you are doing the same thing to celebrate an anniversary. Excited for you. And thank you so much for praying for Harrison. You just don’t know how much that means to me. Really.

  39. elizabethfstewart says:

    Our recent trip to Ghana stretched me in the area of courage too. Europe! I’d love to see it. But, yes, it does stretch my homebody ways.

  40. r.elliott says:

    The title alone says so much…I will take that with me…so glad for your sweet gift of celebration. Blessings and may we take courage with us today:)

  41. Pamela says:

    A good description of facing an unknown. I’m taking a few steps of my own and find in each fear a beautiful destination.

  42. So glad you’re back! Shelly, I know that unwelcome guest all. too. well. Maybe the way we write about him will help us both learn how better to kick him to the curb. Sounds like a lovely anniversary celebration. How I would love to sit and enjoy scones and croissants with you and hear all about it!

    • Thank you Nancy, its good to be missed. Yep, I think your right about writing leading to freedom from fear. As long as the fear stays inside our head and heart, its trapped there. And my would I love to sit with you over scones and tea, chat about life. Hope to one day. I’ve asked God for that.

  43. Great post – so timely for me. These last couple of weeks, the invisible fear character has shown up, and he keeps talking louder because I keep letting him…
    I love the poetic way you write btw.
    I’ll spill that basket of excuses too, and walk away from my comfortable picnic,
    across the room with courage.

    -Kim

    • I know what you mean about letting fear dominate. Sometimes, for me, just saying things our loud diminshes the power of fear, puts what I am thinking in its proper place so truth can do its work to freedom. So thankful you dropped by and left a comment.

  44. Beautiful, beautiful post, Shelly. We have the same relatives – those generations of fear. Just this past week, my hubby and I planted ourselves in Joshua 1:1-9. Be strong and courageous, God told Joshua, because “the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” xox

    • It seems to be common, this history of fear that keeps us away from fulfilling risk and adventure. Glad to know I am in good company with you Patricia. And thanks for that verse, its a good one.

  45. Laura says:

    Welcome back. Fear is deeply rooted in my family history and how I envy those with a family history of faith. But I know, that blogging takes courage and it is so apparent that you are sending courage in more often. But we have to I think, us moms, because we beg God to give our girls more courage.

    And yum…tea and croissants.

  46. Oh yes, I’ve had the same companion on my journey through life. It comes to me through my grandmother and goes way back. It can steal joy and rob us of new experiences. So glad you had a great time! Beautiful pictures! When we were in Scotland many years ago, we only drove a block before my husband hit something:) They wouldn’t allow us to rent another car:) The joys of visiting other countries!

    • Oh my goodness Christina, I can’t believe that happened to you. I guess you were stuck with public transportation – which is in good supply at least. Yes, we had a lovely time and I’m still thinking about it. Took so many photos I am having a hard time choosing which ones to post.

  47. Fear rises both from her expected and unexpected places, it seems. Glad courage sent her home so you could enjoy a wonderful adventure.

    Beautiful, Shelly. Welcome back. :)

    • Thanks Lyla, its good to be back. Although I am finding myself dreaming about walking those cobblestones this morning as I unpack and think about what I need to get done. And I agree with you, fear is no respector of circumstance.

  48. kd sullivan says:

    How much we miss when we give in to worry, and say no to courage…I so understand this.

    • My family of origin functions much from fear. My grandparents stopped travelling early in their lives because of it. I am grateful that H doesn’t even have a hint of it in him. He pulls me past it often.

  49. joepote01 says:

    Fear can be truly paralyzing at times, can’t it? Fear’s cousin, Discouragement, can be equally stifling…it took me a few years to realize that Discouraged is the absence of courage.

    Godly Courage is wonderfully freeing!

    Beautiful post!

    • Joe, I like your thoughts on discouragement as well. I’m wondering if discouragement and fear come from an absence of faith or thinking I somehow have control. I agree it can be equally stifling if we let it. It is courage that helps us move forward in both situations.

      • joepote01 says:

        Yes, I think so!

        I like how Joshua 1:9 (NIV) expresses it: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

        We overcome fear and discouragement by being strong and courageous, based on faith that the Lord our God will be with us wherever we go.

        Also, I was struck a while back in realizing this is given as a command, not just encouraging advice. God commands us not to be discouraged or afraid! That little truth was a bit startling to me the first time it smacked me over the head!

        It also change the tone of my prayers in regard to discouragement…less whining…more asking God for strength and courage…

  50. Anne Harvey says:

    Oh Shelly how you capture the mixed emotions of fear and adventure. It is like you stepped into my heart and wrote the words for me. Your words caused me to ride down the roads in England with my husband driving. Took one of the many round abouts more than once as I read. Thank you for sharing your gift. Glad you had such a great trip you could take us along with your blog. Look forward to more writing about the trip.

    • So glad to know you can relate, that you are encouraged Anne. We had a GPS that told us which exit to take at each roundabout. I think it saved us from many wrong turns!

      • joepote01 says:

        Roundabouts are a blast, aren’t they? Traveling in France a few years ago, I learned to really like the ability to simply take another lap around when unsure of the correct turn.

  51. Fran Rashbrook says:

    Shelly, your blogs are inspirational and addictive … thank you so much for sharing so honestly in ways that we your readers can identify but couldn’t express ourselves so beautifully. What a gift! I can particularly identify with the fear issue when driving on roads … even in my own country! It’s a constant battle of the mind! So glad you had such a great time in the UK … only wish we had been here to see you x

    • Fran, it makes me smile knowing you and reading and that you are encouraged. I can’t tell you how disappointed we were to miss you. Hope you had a nice time in France despite the cloudy weather. Its always good to get away and renew perspective. And the fact that you have fear on the roads you travel every day gives me solace actually. I thought I was being a bit ridiculous. I read your comment out loud to H. Thanks so much for leaving one.

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