An Open Letter to the Woman Struggling Against Fear and Doubt

Friday, May 18, 2018

Photo by Quentin Dr on Unsplash

Dear friend,

I see you, scrolling relentlessly through your social media feed, witnessing all of the incredible things others are doing with their lives and wondering if God has forgotten to give you a life as grand and glorious and beautiful.

I see you, living your ordinary life, hearing people talk about how they’ve surrendered their dreams to the Father and been given a reality surpassing their wildest imaginings, wondering if perhaps you’re dreaming too small, believing you might be destined for a life of insignificance.

And it terrifies you. It terrifies you because, in spite of how everyone always seemed to say, when you were in school, that you would go on to do amazing things, the most amazing thing you feel you’ve done recently is remember to get your oil changed on time (#adulting). And that’s hardly something that will tilt the world off its axis.

Honestly, what terrifies me infinitely more than that, though, is knowing that you and I have something only we can give, but we’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the right moment to give it. You hear this -- that you have something unique to give -- and it sends you into a tailspin of anxiety because, well, how do you know what that is? Self-discovery is a jungle, and you’ve been going at it this long at night without a flashlight. Finding your passion is a path fraught with tangled weeds of indecision and the fear of missing out and second guesses and self-doubt. How do you know you’re headed in the right direction? How do you know you’re doing any of it right?

I get it, friend. I’m scared, too.

But it terrifies me so much more knowing the world needs all that beauty and brilliance and goodness of yours and mine right now… and we keep it carefully sheltered in fear and doubt and shame.

And so I’m here to tell you that finding the thing that only you can give is actually so much simpler than we make it out to be. You don’t have to go searching for it, because that thing you have to give away?

It’s your heart.

Nobody else in this world has a heart just like yours. God fashioned it just for you. 

Give your heart away.

I think what complicates this solution is our wondering how best to do this, but that answer, I think, is actually pretty simple, too: just show up for your life. In Fr. James Martin’s The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, he says that if we want to know what the will of God is, we need only look to this moment. That’s where God wants us to be.

So, show up for your life, my dear friend. Show up wholeheartedly. Show up completely. “Your every act should be done with love” (1 Cor 16:14). Say yes to this moment. Give your heart to the task at hand, and then, listen, listen, listen. Trust that if God is calling you to something else, you will hear that still, small voice in the depths of your heart. And when that happens, take the next right step. Do that in love, too. Let God take care of the details; the Lord of pine cones and pollen, of every grain of sand and every unique flake of snow, is the God of details, and He will not forget about you and me. Try to trust this with all your heart.  

You’ll probably still doubt anyway from time to time, and of course, I’ll be right there with you, worrying, wondering, letting strangers on Instagram and old high school acquaintances on Facebook dictate where I “should” be right now.

But they don’t have my heart. And they don’t have yours.

And so, who’s to say, really? Who’s to say that we’re doing any of it “right”?

Just give your heart away, whatever that looks like to you. Give your heart away. To the life you lead. To the people you serve. And most importantly, to your God.

With so much love,

Sarah (Your Friend in the Trenches)