My luggage was packed, and my fiancee stood with his family at the bottom of the stairs. We were newly engaged, and our families had spent the weekend getting to know one another at my parent’s home near Chicago. They were supposed to be my ride back to Kentucky that day, but a flood of tears kept me from going back with them to my college.
I had just finished my first semester of pharmacy school with flying colors, but it just wasn’t going to work out. My fiancee Benjamin and I were doing great! (In fact, we will be married 10 YEARS later this month!) But my career plans needed to shift.
Benjamin and I had been talking a lot – which is good, you know, when you’re about to spend forever together. It was important to both of us to make it possible, if at all possible, for me to stay home with our children once we were married. That is to say, if we were blessed with children.
So far we have been blessed with four wonderful children in the past 6 years, and no kind sir at the grocery store today, there are no twins in there (though I’m all for fewer pregnancies & more kids!).
So I burst out crying right before the drive back to Kentucky for my second semester of pharmacy school, and long story short, I didn’t go back with them that day. Instead, I took some time to process my life, and switched back into an undergraduate program to finish my biology degree.
I went on to become a teacher, which meant significantly lower school loans that could be paid off quickly, and a career with an easy transition in and out of becoming a stay-at-home mother.
But guys, I was terrified of walking away from that career as a pharmacist. Mostly because I had set my mind on it for so long. And if you don’t know me well yet, I’m pretty determined and stubborn about doing what I feel called to do. But in times of transition in life, fear can creep in and complicate things. (Anyone else agree??)
In walking away from one dream to pursue another – in my case – greater dream, I found peace. And I’ve learned that when we listen to our fears, we can learn so much about ourselves.
Here are three valuable insights you can learn from your fears:
1.What’s most important to you right now?
We should pay attention to what we fear, because our fears can indicate what we truly desire. For example, if we fear illness or death, we may be desiring health & longevity. If we fear long term infertility, our hearts may truly be desiring the gift of children. If we fear failure about something in particular, this may indicate an area where we long to succeed.
We fear rejection because we long to be accepted. We fear being forgotten because we long to be known. We fear being disliked and excluded because we long to be loved.
By allowing ourselves to feel afraid and experience a certain fear, we may be able to articulate and pinpoint the source of that fear. In my situation, I was afraid of giving up a dream and being seen as a failure. I wanted to be successful, and I learned that being successful doesn’t only come in a career-sized package. So, our fears can indicate what’s most important to us right now – what we’re hoping to receive and experience in life. The reverse of our fear is often one of our deepest desires.
2. Where might you need to take action?
If you’re severely afraid of something, or if you have a recurring fear, it may indicate an area where you need to take action. Are you doing everything you can in a certain area to ensure your success? Are you focusing your attention in the right areas and in appropriate proportion to your desires & your mission in life?
I felt restless during my entire first semester of pharmacy school because I slowly realized it was not the right career for my future family. I feared becoming a pharmacist (I wanted to eventually be at home with children), and I feared making a change (I wanted to be “successful”). All of this fear was an indication that I needed to take action. Something had to give. Something was not aligning here.
Where might things not be aligning properly in your own life? Where might you need to take action and make adjustments and course corrections to find peace and to fulfill your personal calling? What is it exactly that’s tugging on your heart strings and causing you to fear?
3. Where might you need to increase your trust?
There’s a lot of comfort that comes from having a cushy 6-figure salary and benefit package, and it’s wise to be prudent and cautious when making decisions about how we live and how we act. But if we find that we are excessively fearful about losing something in particular, this may indicate an area where we can grow in trust.
God is the one in control. We receive all of our blessings through Him and because of Him – no matter how much we think we’re just earning things based on our own merit. His providence and grace is what gives me the ability to type these words out for you, and it’s what gives you the ability to read them. Without Him, we are nothing. So, if we turn our fears over to Him, and ask Him to increase our trust in these areas where we are afraid, He will.
As Jesus told Saint Faustina, “Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity.” (Diary, 1602) So we really can’t go wrong when we turn our fears over to God and increase our trust in Him.
If this article has been helpful to you, click here to join my email list and you’ll get instant access to your free copy of 5 Keys to Moving From Fear to Freedom, based on my journey overcoming anxiety. Peace!