My Greatest Fear

Okay, okay, I admit it. Christians aren’t suppose to be scared, right? We are supposed to walk around in our perfectly, not scared bodies, shielded by the super-powers of the Holy Spirit.

We are suppose to be like some kind of anti-fear force field–zapping things like phobias and anxieties with a wave of our hand.

But let’s be honest. Most of us aren’t fearless superheroes by any stretch of the imagination. I, for one, have plenty of fears and insecurities.

One fear in particular has always haunted me. It is my dark and looming cloud, my ever-present “what if”, my unavoidable reality.

My greatest fear in life…

…is that I will end up being nothing more than mediocre. My greatest fear is that I will slowly disappear into a life that is both commonplace and insignificant, nothing more and nothing less.

I have long straddled the line between ordinary and exceptional. I am neither an overachiever or an underachiever. Instead, I’m the perfect combination of perfectionist meets procrastinator, go-getter meets getter-later.

I’d like to blame it on the fact that I am an only child. Us, only children, really do suffer when it comes to overall performance. Reason being, we don’t grow up with anyone to regularly compete against. I watch in wonder and irritation, as my 3 and 5 year old race to see who can put on their pajamas faster. The victor usually celebrates with some kind of flaunting-in-your-face-song and dance. Meanwhile, the loser can usually be seen crying in the corner of their bedroom.

I did not experience any of this in my childhood. It was just me and I determined rather quickly that mediocrity was the name of the game. I hung fast to the bumper sticker that reads: If you aim low, you will always hit your target.

And so it went…I aimed low. A lot. And wouldn’t you know, I almost always succeeded. God, though, in true God-fashion would have nothing to do with my embrace of mediocrity. He had other plans.

I was unknowingly propelled forward by the Lord into a new realm, a place I had never been before. It was called achievement and it was to be paired with a nice glass of perseverance and a side of patience. All three were delicacies I had heard of, but never actually tasted.

I know it is not God’s plan for me to spend my life being afraid of a mediocrity. Meanwhile for so much of it, that’s precisely what I had been doing.

Sure, I’m afraid of other things, like my children becoming ill or losing my husband in some kind of freak accident. These, I think, are normal fears and not ones that I obsess over. They come and go without much fanfare.

But my twin mediocrity and I, we go way back. I have had a much harder time shaking her off because instead of surfacing in one quick startling fearful moment, mediocrity has grown into a constant, unspoken presence, tainting all I put my hands on…and all that I don’t.

God, however, does not deal in mediocrity. He deals with us, who are perhaps normal, nothing special, ordinary. Yet, what He has for us, what He has prepared in advance for us, is so far from average. The question is, am I willing to come along…

…and I believe that I am. I believe that for the first time in my life, my fear of settling for good, is greater than my fear of living a mediocre life. I don’t want to miss what God has for me, uncertain or not, fearful at times, or not. Mediocrity can wait. I’ve got other plans.

What is your greatest fear? What holds you back from fulling embracing God’s plan for your life? How has God encouraged you to trust Him in this area?

22 thoughts on “My Greatest Fear”

  1. The future. It scares me so much. I’m a month away from graduating from university. There is so much pressure to find a job, more so because Im the first one in my family to go into higher education. If I don’t find I job, I know my family will view my studies as a waste of time. The future really scares me. Will I be alone forever? Will I never find a group of friends that make me feel good, never find a husband, never have my own home. Never have a job where I feel like I get to contribute to something bigger than me.I feel ashamed of these thoughts, of these fears, because I know I am supposed to trust God. I know, on an intellectual level, that God wants me to have all of these things, that God wants me to be happy. But then on some level I question wether I deserve it or not, wethere I’m good enough. Maybe I’m supposed to be alone, unemployed, living at home, working some place where my education has no importance what so ever. Maybe that is God’s plan for me. That scares me.

    1. Emelie,
      I so get this. I remember feeling similarly when I was about to graduate college. Everything seemed so hard to reach and uncertain. But let me just admonish you too, and tell you that God does have a plan for you. He does care about the details of your life and He longs to bring you desires of your heart. Sure, there will be difficult times in that. It is inevitable, but God will not forsake you in them either.

  2. I’m the same as you. I have this fear of being average and not succeeding greatly at anything. I fear failure and success equally, which puts me off trying really hard at anything. In the past I’ve been a quitter and I’m determined not to be like that anymore. It’s hard changing your ways though! I also have this fear of missing out, especially when it comes to travelling. I guess all-in-all, I want to live a BIG life. A well-travelled, wise, outstanding, faithful life. Everything I do, and don’t do, is driven by that.

    1. Micaela,
      I have to admit, I’m a bit afraid of success too, but I try not to think about that as much. And I can relate to being a quitter too. This blog has been one of the biggest catalysts to break me out of quitter mode, actually.

      I love this: ” I want to live a BIG life.” I think God is all about big lives, it’s just that His big and our big aren’t always the same. You may travel around the world, but it might be to impact His Kingdom, not to vacation. God is not a god of unexceptional or ordinary. He has a big life waiting for you, just be prepared if it looks a little different than expected.

    1. Travis,
      Really? I’m surprised by this to be honest. Are you fearful that you will be drug-addicted, self-obsessed, self-loathing, depressed, and in an extremely unhealthy relationship? ‘Cause Kurt had a whole mess of things going on that led to his suicide. Or is it more that you fear depression taking you down a dark and unwanted path?

    1. Matt,
      Ugh. I’m sorry you heard the “You can do anything” lie. I wrote a post about that in the past. So many kids were hit int he face with the reality that, well, that’s not reality. Funny (and sad) how much weight we place on accomplishing something–as if doing is what makes us something. I think this is even more difficult for men. Thankfully God calls us approved, not because of what we do, but because of what Jesus did.

  3. I’m not a perfectionist like you Nicole, but I him an overachiever. Therefore, my biggest fear is the fear of failure. I fear when I have to take on new projects or tasks that I’m going to fail so I want to do my best to make sure that I don’t.

    1. Peter,
      To clarify, I am so NOT a perfectionist. I’m a perfectionist meets a procrastinator, which means I want to be a perfectionist, but instead I sit on my butt and do nothing. :)

      As to your comment, I think being an overachiever is almost more difficult than being an underachiever. It’s as if you set all these high standards and expectations for yourself–only to struggle to meet those, many of which might be impossible. It must be exhausting. Man, is there a time when God’s grace is necessary and His freedom crucial. Thankfully, both are available to you! Thanks for sharing Peter.

  4. I’m like you…I don’t want to live a life of insignificance. Right now, I know I have done exactly that and I hate it. God’s encouraged me by putting prophetic people in my path that tell me I’m going the right way and that God’s still preparing me but it’s still hard.

    1. Jason,
      Amen to God placing prophetic people in your life to speak words and truth to you! I had a prophetic word spoken over me about 3 1/2 years ago that was life-changing. It rocked me to my core and actually helped serve as a catalyst to me starting this blog. Looking forward to hearing what God continues to do in you and for you Jason. He has a plan for you…just for you. Be encouraged!

  5. Actually, I think fear as an emotion is not a sin and not even a bad thing, in and of itself. It is a learning tool that, like all tools, can construct or destruct. It can teach us to trust God’s promises or not. It is a teacher and revealer and strengther if we let it.
    And you have it exactly right. We have to follow God’s plan and not rely on our own, whether it is procrastinating or beating ourselves up when we are not perfect (I’ve had to deal with both). Who is to judge the result of our life in any case? Can we do so accurately? Each has their own challenges, and those are upon what we will be judged, not compared to any other. The fact that God doesn’t grade on a curve works in both comparable ways. Reminiscent of, He will not ask you why you did not go on 10 mission trips a year and serve the poor if He did not provide the way to make it happen, but He will ask why you did not forgive a wrong done to you.

  6. My greatest fear is that I will fail (am failing) my children. It manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes I cringe over the things I haven’t done to teach them about Christ and model Godliness for them, and then I wring my hands over all the fun worldly things they’ve missed out on. I know it’s because I’ve set them up as idols and if I allowed God His proper place in my heart the fears would be there, but they wouldn’t trouble me to the degree that they do.

  7. I’m scared that I will not follow God on the adventure He has planned for me, because I’m too afraid to fail. My circumstances seem bigger than God a lot of the time and I think I’m destined to become my mother and the other women in my family. no bueno.

  8. I have so many fears, or should say had. Instead of letting them control me I’m actively shining light on them. I think the problem with THIS fear is how you define yourself. We need to define ourselves the way God does. I’m learning how to do this currently.

    I’m a new reader from twitter! Nice to meet you.

  9. My fear is that I let God and other people down. Its that whole perfectionist thing that comes with being a first born and having the weight of everyone’s expectations on you. And no one to compete against. Most of my nightmares, however, involve losing my kids and my husband.

  10. This reminded me of a phrase in my blog topic list. It says “Epitaph: He almost_____.” I think that is what I fear. Like you, the mediocre is a mark I can hit and most times is completely acceptable to the public around me. I keep forgetting who my real audience is.

    If God were capable of being more merciful in one respect than another, I think He would offer more grace to those people who tried and failed than to those who cower or settle. Luckily, I don’t have to worry because He is constant even though I am not.

  11. I think my greatest fear is the fear of being rejected. Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to your blog – you say the things I WANT to say. Only in the past year have I realized how MUCH of what I do is to please others – changing the style of music I like, clothes I wear, what I believe about certain topics. It’s ridic.

    HOWEVER, I have dubbed 2012 “The Year of Facing My Fears” and I am a runnin’ at them – full bore. Each time I do it, I can tell my confidence is boosting.

    Thank you for being Bold.

  12. my greatest fear is not being able to please God the way he would want me. I am a first-born with two siblings and in my culture (Ghana) society and family expect a lot of the first-born so we first-borns (in my culture) carry a lot of responsibility even from childhood which begins as soon as you get a baby sister or brother. Failure to satisfy the expectations of family as a first-born is almost unforgivable and brings much displeasure…in everyone’s eyes you are unworthy of your position. I have had situations in my life when I had received severe criticisms because I failed to please them….and I was only a child. Although I believe God gives grace to people he uses and that he also gives second, third and nth chances, this fear always keeps me from attaining the heights I know God wants me to attain and I want to attain..

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