I have many fears. Some are more defined (such as the fear of getting a migraine) but most are the Great Fear of the Unknown.
This big giant fear is something that most people struggle with... It includes general things such as: fear the future, fear of going to a foreign country, fear of trying new foods, etc. I think that as people, we fear the unknown because we're afraid of getting hurt somehow.
These past two days, I was forced to face some of these Unknown Fears.
Yesterday, I took the train all by myself down to visit my friend at her Bible college.
This was my first time going on a trip all by myself without parents, church people, or friends with me. Not only that, I took the train, which is something I've only done once before (and that was probably six or seven years ago - and I had my mom and a bunch of other homeschoolers with me). Not only that, I had to socialize with people I didn't know. Not only that, they were college people I didn't know.
Recently, I discovered that I really don't like talking to people because I have this weird thing in my head that either they'll judge whatever I say, or they just won't care about what I'm talking about. This is increased tenfold when I have to talk to someone of the opposite gender. I also don't like talking to people because they most likely won't ask me anything interesting... they'll ask me either a) what grade are you in? (someone I'm incapable of answering because we have never defined my grade) or b) where are you thinking of going to college/what colleges have you looked into? (something I'd really really really like to NOT talk about right now because all the stress and SATs and grades and requirements and the threat of dorm life and having to interact with people makes me want to cry - which goes back to the weird thing where I think people will either judge me or not care about what I'm talking about/interested in. Plus I'm still a highschooled teenager, and all highschoolers are basically empty-headed-care-only-about-drama-and-can't-have-deep-thoughts, right?).
Anyway, the impending threat of having to talk to people and somehow fit in with my friend's crowd (which is very, very different than people I would normally be drawn to) was very, very terrifying for me. Even more terrifying than the train ride and going somewhere by myself.
I'd like to share how I got through these fears.
First of all, with a lot of prayer, and some Bible reading (the Matthew verses about 'do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.' I don't know the reference right off the top of my head. Also the end of Philippians 3 and all of Phil. 4. It has some really good verses about who we, as Christians, are working for, and the goal we are working towards. Also two of my favorite verses... Phil. 4:8 - think on whatever is pure, right, holy, etc. and Phil. 4:6-7 which is another 'do not worry' verse [but by prayer and petition and thanksgiving present your request to the Lord]).
The above verses are really, really encouraging and help me to remember that God is in control. He's got this. I don't need to worry. (Which reminds me of another verse that our guitarist shared at worship practice tonight - 1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you).
The other thing that helps me face my fears is just doing it. If I sit and think about the scary things, they get more scary. But if I don't think about them/focus on them, and just do whatever it is, I can get through relatively unscathed.
Like talking to people. I went to bed last night thinking "Oh no, tomorrow I have to meet/interact with more of the people here!" But I didn't let myself focus on that. Talking to people and interacting with them is inevitable. I would love to hole up in my room and never have to worry about talking to people again... never have to worry about good impressions... never have to worry that people think I'm weird/not good enough/an idiot/empty-headed/cares only about trivial things... But I can't become a hermit. God created us to be in relationship with one another, and the best way to do that is to be out interacting with people - building strong relationships, not holed up somewhere online.
So no matter how awful talking with people makes me feel, I know it's good for me. So I just do it. I talk to people. I introduce myself to people. I'm friendly. I shake people's hands. I ask them about things (because people love to talk about themselves). Who cares what they think of me? Their opinion doesn't matter! The only opinion that matters is God's. He sees my heart and my mind. He knows my good intentions and my selfish ones. He knows that I'm not weird(er than other people). He knows that I'm not an idiot. He knows I don't care only for trivial things. So what does other people's opinions mean to me? Well, they're a nice affirmation of things that I already know. But if people have the wrong idea about me, that's their problem because they didn't get to know me and jumped to conclusions. (I struggle with that; jumping to conclusions too quickly. It's partly 'cause of my imagination - I imagine the woman in the boots walking down the street is actually a mastermind criminal from outerspace masquerading as a human. [Okay, maybe not that farfetched]. It's something I'm working on).
The train is something that I really just had to do without thinking much about it, because if I started thinking too much about it, I'd probably have freaked myself out. Not so much the train part... but the going without my parents part (what would happen if I got a migraine? Thank the Lord that I didn't!).
Actually, the train ride (and the trip to the bookstore and my friend's theology class) was the best part of the trip. I LOVE trains and was super excited about getting to travel on one. I'd travel by train always if I could (has anyone seen the commercial where the guy wins the lottery and builds himself a train? If I ever come into a substantial amount of money... look out!).
Anyway, I'm not exactly sure how to end this post... it's become sort of a culmination of all the feelings that have been keeping me awake at night for the past few forevers... (mostly the past few weeks. My friend calls the thoughts that keep you up at night "the committee." It fits). Sometimes you just have to blah all the feelings out.
I'll leave you with two things:
1- If you see me, please refrain from asking about colleges. Instead, ask me how life is going. Ask me about my writing, my music, books, Star Trek, what I will study at college (not what college I'll attend. Why is so much emphasis put on the where and not what we'll be doing once we get there?).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.