Peeling Off the Fear of Man

FullSizeRender (2)So it happened again this morning. Another piece of the fear of man peeled right off of me. It’s like a lifetime sunburn that takes forever to go away. You have to peel it off piece by piece.

I was having a grand morning with friends, doing something I enjoy, and I reached out my hand to high-five someone…but it fell down unmet. It was through no fault of the person I had reached out to—she just happened to turn away RIGHT at that moment. And it wouldn’t have been so awkward, except that I was standing in front of a room full of 12 women. So yah. A teeny bit awkward.

But as I was laughing at myself inside, I felt the familiar Ping! of an upcoming blog post. I just knew. Awkward moments: they are all about the fear of man. God has been healing me from this particular issue for quite some time.

I had a goofy one of those moments the other day too. I was dropping off my kids at VBS. It was one of those days where I had over-optimistically scheduled a million things, thinking that it wouldn’t make me a total nutcase by the end. I was wrong.

So I was dropping off my four kids plus one extra. I had to take the middle schooler to the volunteer room; sign up the new kid at the kiosk and then wait in line to pay for her; wait in the t-shirt line; and then wait in the regular line to check in the pre-registered kids. Four different places and lines. And I was already maxed out from the previous 8,000 things I’d crammed into the day. So I’m waiting patiently—sort of, and I see a girl I recently met. I happen to make eye contact with her as she’s waving. At me. Or not. But by the time I’ve realized, “She’s not waving at me”, it was too late. Awkward wave. And I still had to wait another 5 minutes in that line before I could skirt away to my car to drive home. It actually wasn’t that bad. But I was just so tired and needed to be away from people. All people.

The fear of man is an annoying cling-on. Like the sunburn that won’t completely peel off. It has to be peeled off section by section. We get free of it little by little. Healing from it is a process.

The real root of the fear of man is actually the fear of rejection. Nobody likes rejection. We all crave connection. And if there has been rejection, then there is a severed connection. Or no possibility of connection at all.

For me, healing from the fear of man meant healing from the fear of failure. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I had been a perfectionist my whole life. And if I couldn’t do something perfectly, or at least pretty awesomely, then I didn’t want to do it. Or if it was something I had to learn in front of people, where I would make mistakes and be seen, I wasn’t interested either. I would try new things at least once. I liked trying new things, especially if I was good at them.

But my life recently changed in this area. It all started with Zumba. God decided to peel off huge chunks of the fear of man from me in a very sneaky way. He can be super covert when it comes to getting us to where He wants us to be, in order to do a healing, restoring or building work in our lives. He is the Master Strategist.

So I went to a Zumba class one morning with a friend. (Zumba is an aerobic fitness program that uses a lot of Latin American dance music.) But I felt SO spastic and uncoordinated that I actually left after the class, planning to NEVER return. Just like I had done with Jazzercise a few years back. Or soccer when I was 5 years old and kicked the ball into my own team’s net. After I got berated by the coach, I quit. I don’t do well with failure or harsh feedback.

But something was different this time with Zumba. I was different this time. I was in a season of my life when I was spending a lot of time with God. So I was hearing Him more. He was counseling me in my day-to-day life and I could hear Him more clearly. And He said, “I want you to go back.” To Zumba? I was shocked. “Yes, I have something there for you.”

I wasn’t expecting that. But I knew that He had been SO faithful to me, in every area of my life—to heal me, counsel me, lead me, provide for me. Always. And I trusted Him completely. I trusted His judgment calls. I trusted that He knew the details I didn’t. I trusted Him enough to start onto a path, even when I didn’t know where it led.

So I did. I went back to Zumba. Again and again and again. I still felt spastic. But little by little—it lessened. It progressed from, “Did anybody just see that?” to actually laughing at myself instead when I’d miss a move, and to not really caring who happened to notice.

But I discovered a treasure in this process that I never would have known if I hadn’t kept going; if I hadn’t kept pushing through my fear of what people would think. And that was this: I LOVED dancing. I’m not kidding. I seriously, flat-out, fell fully in love with dancing. Multiple dancing styles too: Line dancing, Irish dancing, Latin dancing. Didn’t matter. My body just liked to move.

But you can’t learn to dance unless you agree to part ways with the fear of man—“You go your way. I’ll go mine. I can’t handle your condemnation anymore.”

Peeling it off…

So I’m emerging out of this nasty lifetime sunburn. I’ve made some serious progress. But I still have a long way to go.

Peeling off the fear of man wasn’t the only treasure that God gave me through my Zumba classes. He’s used dancing in general to teach me a lot about life—the cadence of life, how to sync and be flexible with multiple types of people, how to follow different styles of leadership, how to anticipate the next move, how to get back in the game when you make a mistake. Rich learning right there. I wouldn’t trade it.

But I could have missed all of this learning, this training, this love of dancing, if I hadn’t kept pushing myself, stretching myself—determining within myself to not let the fear of man, or fear of anything, stop me.

I’m a different person now. I’m still me. But my spiritual skin tone is evening out. As God continues to peel this remnant sunburn off of me—I emerge, transformed, more balanced, more confident.

Our life is meant to be a process of transformation. To move past the awkwardness of life and learn to fly. Learn to soar. Learn to become all that we were created to be. We each have a purpose and a destiny to fulfill here on earth.

So allow Him to start peeling off your sunburn. Allow Him to start removing the strangleholds of fear that hold you back. You were meant to be transformed.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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