Why Making Decisions Based on Faith NOT Fear is Important

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I’ve talked about my fellowship year, in two previous posts, already. I will probably, at least, reference that year a lot. It is not an exaggeration to say that year changed my life. It also changed me in countless ways. The day of the flight to DC for the first conference: I got, maybe, two hours sleep. One of my professors, had given us a surprise, group project the day before in class, and he told me to e-mail my part to him and my other group members before I left. I did as he instructed; then fell into bed to catch a little sleep. I was cranky and tired when I got the way too early wake-up call from my alarm to go to the airport. I was also a bundle of nerves. I felt the weight of representing my entire university, my family, and my friends. Add on top of all mentioned: it was my first plane ride, and I was an epic emotional mess.

Dad drove mama and I to the airport: he knew I was struggling. Before I got out of the van: he said, “You can do this, Stace.” I couldn’t meet his eyes. I would lose it, sobbing, if I did. He asked me to look at him. I slowly raised my eyes, to meet his, in the rear view mirror. He repeated his belief. He told me he loved me, and to call when we got to our hotel. I told him: thanks, I loved him, and would. As is usually the case at Hartsfield-Jackson: things weren’t running so smoothly. After breakfast and a last minute gate change: we boarded our plane. After the guys, who helped me into my seat, left, and took my chair with them, I looked at mama. I don’t know what she saw in my eyes and on my face, but she smiled and said:

“Breathe, Stace. Remember to stay back in your seat during take-off, and that this will be LOUD. The calmer you stay and more you breathe: it will help. Grab my hand if you need to, but don’t hold your breath. You ready for this?” I looked at her incredulously. Is that a real question? If I say no: can we get off the plane, call dad, and go home?” We both cracked up. Then I said, okay, mama. Take off was a lot more smooth than most roller coasters I’ve ridden. It was LOUD, however.

After we were told we could use our electronics: I got my MP3 player out of our carry on, and tried to calm myself down with music. I also started to pray. I told God all my fears. I told everything I was feeling. Music and prayer were the only two things with a shot at calming me down. I kept breathing, deeply, too, like mama said. I couldn’t look at her. I knew if I did: I’d cry and she’d worry as she does. Something remarkable happened as we soared through the clouds, in the early morning light that day. The longer I sat there, with two of the best coping mechanisms I know; my spirit began to settle. I could hear the faint whisper of: “Trust me. Just do what I’ve asked, and take the opportunity. Be open. Go.” When I opened my eyes from finishing praying: I was overwhelmed for a different, happier, reason and much calmer. That’s not to say the day, or the trip, was without bumps. It had plenty of bumps. However, when I opened my eyes, from praying on that plane: I knew this year, and this fellowship experience, was going to expand me in numerous ways and make me better.

Those statements, now, seem incredibly small and nowhere near enough of a description…even if they are/were accurate. Making the decision to say yes, in the first place ,and to go despite all of my fear and doubts in my head was the scariest, bravest, decision I had made up to that point in my life. That’s the beauty of faith and making decisions based on faith…NOT fear. I had no idea how deciding to keep saying yes was going to change my life. I did it anyway remembering a quote one of my favorite professors had written on the board a few days before I left. “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” That is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That quote has served me well, since it was on the board that day, and will continue to do so as I continue to set out to be the best version of myself I can be.

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