To LIVE. Right now. What’s holding you back?

For me it has always been a lack of self-confidence and a constant need for approval from everyone around me. However, that need is what stifles us and keeps us from being the extraordinary person God intended us to be. When there is no hope, no faith, we play it safe. The unknown becomes terrifying and we stop ourselves from taking the leap. We listen to what others insist is best for us and hold back from our convictions for fear someone will disapprove or that we will disappoint people. The reality is we are always going to disappoint and there will inevitably be someone who disapproves. But chances are, if we focus on that we will miss out on something amazing. No one has ever changed the world or made a lasting impact by playing it safe. We are called to step out of our comfort zone and make something happen. God did not create us just to “get by” or spend our time here on earth being comfortable. We’d rather it that way of course. There is safety in conformity; we blend in, there is no risk therefore we settle. The fear of judgment chokes us, keeps us safely inside the box, missing out on the adventure that awaits us all.

My kids have embraced stepping out of the box, breaking the mold and taking risks in order to live for something greater than themselves. I admire that. There are other kids who tease them, and adults who disapprove because of their long hair and taste in music — but the boys are able to see the value in using what makes them unique to stand for what they believe in. I’ve seen my 13 year old son stand on stage in front of 3500 people and share his band’s message of acceptance while encouraging people to be who God intends them to be. I’ve watched my 11 year old perform in front of all his peers, anxious about how his message would be received (6th graders can be unforgiving!), ultimately leading them in a chant declaring they will not be bullies. That’s not easy. And it does not mean they are better than anybody else…it just means they trust and have confidence in who they are in God’s eyes.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus. Talk about making waves and being a nonconformist! Imagine if he had given in to all the temptations to just forget who he really is and what he was put here to do. It would have made his life more comfortable, more people would have accepted him and he could have saved himself a lot of anguish. But he knew God had a bigger and ultimately better plan which ended up making it possible for every one of us to be saved.

No one is going to “save the world” by playing it safe. I felt very anxious about writing and sharing my last blog post because typically I would say doing that is “so not me.” However, deep down I felt a nudge and realized sharing myself could be a risk, but I truly believe God used that to show me that I needed to stop being comfortable, stop playing it safe and realize that He is there to lead me, and if I follow those nudges and step out in faith, I will be living out my purpose. And ultimately isn’t that what we all want? Once we start taking risks, even if they seem tiny at first, and learn to open our hearts to what God is telling us to do (and trust me, He is always guiding us–we just have to pay attention) we will make an impact.

While preparing for Breach the Barrier events, somehow I found myself volunteering to be the emcee. I HATE speaking in front of people. I even dropped out of a few college courses once I found out there would be a speech involved. I sit in faculty meetings silently praying I won’t be called on for fear of saying something stupid. It used to keep me up at night. Then all of a sudden I found myself in front of a microphone at a big music event and I had no choice but to speak. I prayed I would make it through and while I was up there, words somehow came out of me. Then my kids performed at my school and once again there I was with a microphone in hand staring at the entire faculty and student body, facing my absolute worst nightmare, having to somehow deliver a message. Talk about sheer panic! But just before it was time to begin I remembered a scripture (which is “so not like me”). “Be still and know that I am God.” I remember thinking, “Wow! Chill out! Take a deep breath, God’s got this. After all, He created the universe so chances are pretty favorable that He can get me through a 2 minute speech.” And He did! I did nothing stupid and did not die in the process. Just this past week I found myself in the same situation at my kids’ school, but I remembered that God was going to get me through. I managed to take one more small step out in faith.

There is risk involved in anything worth doing. As my husband always says, “The right thing to do isn’t always what’s easy or what’s popular, but it’s always right.” I don’t want to stand face to face with God and try to justify why I played it safe. I want to hear Him say “Great job!” Can you imagine how amazing that could be? But it’s not going to happen by doing what’s ordinary. When we realize that, courage is granted. Doors open and we find ourselves on stage speaking into a microphone. We see our children standing up for what they believe in and making choices that aren’t always popular. They’re given confidence to be role models and inspired to step up to the plate and go for the home run, when the sure thing would have been to settle for the bunt.

At Uprise Festival last weekend, Kevin from Disciple said something that resonated with me. “If you think being a Christian is all about the things you don’t do — “I don’t do drugs.” “I don’t swear.” “I don’t cheat on my spouse.” — then you’ve missed the point.” We have to ask ourselves what is it that God is calling us to DO? What are we going to DO for the greater good? What are we going to DO with the gifts God has given us? Our deeds won’t get us into heaven, but I know before I get there I’d like to know I haven’t wasted all my time here. I don’t know about you, but when I consider all of these things I can’t help but get excited about what lies ahead. I do not want to just EXIST. I want to LIVE. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” and I want to live with the peace of knowing God’s got this! He’s got our backs. We need to pay attention to all of the opportunities around us to do something courageous. I hear Him. It’s only a whisper but I’ve opened my ears and eyes and He’s smiling, saying, “Go ahead. I dare you to LIVE.” Close your eyes, listen carefully and accept the challenge. He’s got this. Take His hand and go for it! What are you waiting for?