The trip is three days away! I keep repeating to myself, "I'm going. I'm getting on a plane and actually going." It still hasn't sunk in yet. I'm leaving on Monday, but it feels like there's so much more time. My mind thinks I have a lot to do. When big things are coming up, I like to count the number of runs -- how many times will I go running before the Big Thing happens? Right now there are two four-mile runs in between me and the plane. Besides that, there's church on Sunday and errands to run, so right now I'm still living in In-Between Land. I don't think it will hit me that I'm leaving until the plane is taking off. Speaking of takeoffs. Guys. I have a massive fear of takeoffs. Landings are fine, and the actual flying is fine, but the initial liftoff from the ground nearly reduces me to a groveling shell of a woman. My stomach feels like it's about to drop out, which makes me feel like I'm plummeting to the earth to die in a ball of flame (Classical singers are dramatic people. Don't say I didn't warn you).
I had the funniest thought about takeoffs the other day. It had just hit me that I would have to endure another one, and a verse came to my mind: "In God, Whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" I can't remember at the moment where it's from, but my mind changed it: "What can planes do to me?" It's a lighthearted way for me to 1) not sob uncontrollably like a three-year-old, and 2) pass through the fear.
That's been something that's on my mind quite a bit lately. Over time I have come to acquire a fear of rejection and of failure; sometimes they are so strong that they cripple me. The darkest time was a two to three week period last fall, in which I experienced the worst performance anxiety I think I've ever faced. I've never been truly afraid before performances, but for this terrifying time, I was petrified. I wasn't confident in my singing or anything I brought to the table as a performer. I was positive that no one was impressed with how I sounded (it didn't occur to me that the opinion of others wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it was). Thanks to God and the wonderful encouragement of many dear people, this dark time passed, and I came to see performing in a much healthier manner: not so much as trying to impress other people, but singing for the story that the composer wanted to tell.
However, these fears still tend to plague me, and they have been the subject of my prayers lately, as I seek to live in a way that is perilous and dangerous, yet full of beauty -- because I personally believe that a life is not truly beautiful without some danger. I was discussing these fears with my incredibly wise, incredibly hilarious mother a few days ago, and she told me "Sara, sometimes you just have to risk. Just take the risk!"
At the time the words were small, but over the last few days they've been tumbling in my mind. Sometimes I'm going to be scared. I'm going to be petrified. Do you ever have those situations in which you're sure that you'd rather die than do whatever you feel like you should do? That's going to happen over and over again. There are going to be times that you wish the earth would swallow you whole so that you don't have to do the hard thing, the thing that you're afraid of.
But sometimes you have to jump. You have to risk.
You read quotes about this all the time on Pinterest and such. They all say that courage isn't the absence of fear, but being afraid and doing the thing anyway -- all that jazz. It all sounds very cliché to me, but I think a little bit of it is true. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and be afraid, and take the risk anyway.
What am I risking? If I put myself out there, I am risking rejection. I am risking failure. But in the end, what does it matter? "In God, Whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?"
So on this journey, I am determined. In lots of little ways, and possibly in big ways, I will be nervous -- maybe even terrified. But with the help of Christ, I will risk. And risk is dangerous.
But it's also beautiful.