Sunday, August 14, 2011

Overcoming Fear

It's a sneaky thing, Fear is.  I talk a big game about not being afraid.  Letting your hope be bigger than your fearReveling in the peace of Christ.  And sometimes I can actually manage to do those things.  But only because I'm not afraid of the things people are usually afraid of.  I'm not afraid of natural disasters or disease or poverty.  I'm not afraid that my family will go hungry even during our times of greatest need.  Most of that is completely out of my control.  And somehow things have always worked out.

The generosity of my friends, and of men and women I've not even met, has been mind boggling.  At the very moment when I teeter on the brink of despair, a light of hope shines into our home, the Holy Spirit working through the lives and actions of so many wonderful people.  No.  I am not at all afraid of going without.

What I am afraid of is pity.  I'm afraid of not being that effervescent person I was told I should always be.  I'm afraid of failure.  To fail at what I've set out to do seems infinitely worse than not allowing myself to try at all.  I'm afraid that someday, when you're finished with my miniscule corner of the blogosphere, you'll feel less happy instead of more joyful.  That you will leave thinking of me instead of my message, our story.  And suddenly I am living in fear instead of hope.  See what I mean?  Sneaky, sneaky Fear.

Now I don't know if you've ever heard of this book, but it's called The Bible.  Sometimes just "Bible" for short.  If you ever have a chance to take a gander at it or google it and search for the word "fear", you'll note that the subject comes up a lot.  I mean, all the time.  And even though it's talked about by all sorts of different people in all sorts of different time periods during  all sorts of different events, the basic gist is that afraid is something a truly faithful person must strive not to be.  In my case, therefore, it indicates a big, fat lack of faith.  I have faith sometimes about some things, sure.  That's why I'm not afraid of change or newness or loneliness or risk.  But I am afraid to be weak.  To be pitied.  To fail.

Naturally the very fact that I'm afraid of pity probably fills the softer hearts reading this with the very emotion I try so hard to circumvent, which is precisely why this is so difficult to write.  But last Sunday I prayed to St. Joseph and on Saturday I finally heard his answer.  That's why I have to be here, telling you all this.

I don't believe in coincidences.  I do, however, believe wholeheartedly in Godincidences.  Last Sunday morning we got up late.  We had beloved house guests.  We didn't make it out the door in time for mass at our parish.  So I got online to find an evening mass in our area and there was only one at a reasonable hour of the evening for small children.  And it was in Spanish.  "Well, we're not going to not go to mass" one of us said (yes, that eloquently).  So it was decided and we went.  To St. Joseph's parish.

St. Joseph: patron saint of carpenters and craftsmen.

My husband: handcrafting wooden classical guitars.

Of fathers and families.

My husband, a father to our family.

St. Joseph: patron saint of people in doubt.

Me: in doubt

Could there have been a more beautiful inconvenience?

So we went and we prayed.  All of us a special prayer for St. Joseph's intercession and guidance.  His experience to guide my husband's hands.  His fortitude to guide his heart.

Then the week rolled in with new ideas and new inspiration, a renewed sense of determination to make something work.  To "make it happen."  Ignited, of course, by our dwindling bank account, but fanned by our focus on the legacy of St. Joseph.  There were real moments of excitement- as we discovered antique wooden doors in our barn that Tommy plans to transform into furniture; as he developed an idea to build a more affordable entry-level guitar with fewer bells and whistles so that more students can afford to buy from him; as we felt the surge of enthusiasm that had recently dwindled.

But there was nothing miraculous.  It still felt like there should be something.... more.  Something I was overlooking.

"Glorious St. Joseph, model of all who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work in the spirit of penance in expiation of my many sins; to work conscientiously by placing love of duty above my inclinations; to gratefully and joyously deem it an honor to employ and to develop by labor the gifts I have received from God, to work methodically, peacefully, and in moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from it through weariness or difficulty to work; above all, with purity of intention and unselfishness, having unceasingly before my eyes death and the account I have to render of time lost, talents unused, good not done, and vain complacency in success, so baneful to the work of God. All for Jesus, all for Mary, all to imitate thee, O patriarch St. Joseph! This shall be my motto for life and eternity." - Pope Pius IX

That emphasis is mine because those words were St. Joseph's answer to me.  To my prayers and uncertainty.  In the face of my fears, the Church, in her timeless wisdom, in all her beautiful knowing, throws this fact: I am called, obligated, to use MY talents, too.  No matter how nervous I am to share them with all of you or how ashamed I'm sure I'll feel the first time I'm turned down, I realize now that I have to do it anyway.

St. Joseph's intercession is not just about my husband succeeding in his efforts.  It's not about me sitting back and throwing out advice about pricing and where to put the receipt for the new band-saw blade.  It's about me banishing my fear of being weak, and being pitied, and failing.  Because it is my responsibility to God to use the time He's so graciously granted me.  To hone and glorify the talents that so readily reflect Him.  To find the good not yet done and do it.

Because in the end it's not about me at all.  It's about doing His will.  So far, in pushing my talent to the side, I have been making it about me.  In a sad, twisted way, it's been all about me not wanting to be let down.  It's been all about me not wanting to put in effort for fear that I'll ultimately fail.  In NOT doing it, I have been making it about me.  In moving forward, I can make it about Him.  His plans for my life.  His plans for our family.

So here I am announcing to you that I have to write.  I will write.  Yes, still here on the blog, but also for others.  Fall-leaf crafts or How-to-not electrocute yourself.  Fending off a Pushy Labor & Delivery Nurse 101.  Or: What is so Lovely about These Dry Erase Markers.  I will write them and I will send them and someday, after much rejection and copious tears (on their part. When they realize in retrospect how fun I am.  Well, usually I'm fun.  Not today so much.  Sorry about that...), somebody will pay me and I will be able to say "Look, St. Joseph, I stopped wasting my time !" and "Look Pope Pius IX, my talents are being used!".

And I am showing my weakness by saying we need your prayers.  Not just because all I can think of are cliches to explain to you what our situation is like right now (e.g. "scraping the bottom of the barrel."  An awful predicament for a would-be writer) but also because we could be in a pretty bad way soon financially.  Things are not close to bleak or hopeless yet, but they are on the road that leads to those scary places and we can't turn it all around alone.  We have our health, we have each other, we have our faith and we have our community.  There is so much to be thankful for and I am SO. THANKFUL.  All we pray for is a little more work sprinkled in among all the lovely play.

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me.

post signature


  1. Dweej, my faith is different to yours.

    But my faith in you to succeed as a writer is unshakeable. You have a way with words, that draw in your reader, allowing them to be part of what you write. To feel what you feel, to see what you see.

    I believe in you. If you say you want to write for a living, I believe you can do it.

  2. I am praying for you...fear is a fearsome thing! You're a wonderful writer and I'm looking forward to reading your columns in a magazine someday, just like I look forward to reading this blog every day!

  3. Dwija:

    What a terrific post. It is something I NEEDED to read, too! I feel like framing it.

    And I will be praying with you and for you.


  4. I almost always leave your posts giggling or joyful, but that's not a requirement. You are a wonderful writer and an interesting person, and I love reading what you have to say. Keep going!

    And many prayers for you and your family. We've been there too, and it amazes me to think of how it worked out. :-)

  5. If it helps at all, remember that even Our Lady was afraid.
    "'The angel went to her and said, 'Hail, Full of Grace! The Lord is with you.'

    Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

    But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.'" (Luke 1:28-30)

    Obviously, Our Lady moved past her fear, and followed God's will perfectly, but just like we can look to her as our example of perfect discipleship, we can also look at her as a friend who knows fear. I don't think anyone would accuse Our Lady of having less than perfect faith, even during times she was afraid, so I think those of us struggling with a much weaker faith don't have to beat ourselves up so much when it rears its head in our lives.

    It how we respond to that fear, I think, that is the real display of faith.

  6. I'm holding you and your family close in my prayers. I received this yesterday and want to send it to you:
    A friend posted this today and I love it, so I am re-posting -- words to live by: If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway

  7. Dweej: I have the same fears as you. EXACTLY the same ones. I know whereof you speak! Moreover, after years as a freelance writer, I stopped freelancing to be home with my kids and to work at our family business. We hit the wall with stretching a dollar (at which, to be immodest, I am a master) and need to make more money to pay for two Catholic high school tuitions. I trust that God will provide but I also know that part of what He's going to provide is more opportunity for me to work. I have been writing a lot in the intervening years, but all for free. I've given up some of my free gigs but I am going to have to figure out how to get more paying ones. I have a talent and I have been using it, but now I have to use it for my family and not for myself. It's hard!

    Writing from home is not easy. Writing from home while you have a toddler is not easy. Writing from home while you have a toddler and are homeschooling is NOT EASY. I'm not saying you can't do it -- anything is possible with the right kind of planning and work. But don't think you can do it in your free time and don't think it's another thing you can fit in -- you will have to give up other things to do it. Trust the voice of experience here.

    You are a fantastic writer. Many not-so-fantastic writers make it financially because they are willing to put in the hard work to make deadlines, make calls, apply for things, and otherwise keep it up. When I first started freelancing I was amazed that another writer I know had many more assignments than I did. She had just gotten a divorce and had to make money steadily and quickly -- whereas I didn't. She wasn't a very good writer but guess who worked steadily and made more money? The one with the drive.

    Thanks for this post -- it helped me! I hope this comment helps you.

  8. I'm not terribly religious, Dweej but I recall this prayer. Saying it, sharing it...for what it's worth, for you and your family and anyone else dealing with fear.

    St. Jude, you are with me in all that is new. May your path of hope be mine in the days ahead. I promise in faith to share your hope with others, to forgive as I am forgiven by my Father in heaven, and to show sympathy and kindness at every opportunity. Guide me, St. Jude, so that I will begin each new day with gratitude on my lips, with truth on my mind, and with hope in my heart. Challenge me, St. Jude, so that I will end each day reflecting on my actions and motivations so that I will grow in faith, love, and hope.


  9. Thank you so much for your kind words, the beautiful reflections and, most of all, your prayers. What an uplifting way to start my Sunday!

  10. I saw something, a facebook badge for you, yesterday I think, on which you said you were a writer. And I thought, "How bold!" "How confident!" No pity here, sister.

  11. You can do it, Dwija! Excellent post. We're praying for you guys over here.

  12. I am terrible at comments. Really, I am. But I'm leaving one here to acknowledge that you wrote these words- to say "I was here." And I have been here, too, in that place of fear and motivation all mixed up. I believe in you, that you are one of the rare people who can make anything happen. Love you, but you already know that.

  13. I'll pray for you and your family, Dweej. We've been there too "scraping the bottom of the barrel". It's a very humbling experience, one I'll never forget. And you ARE a writer! An amazing one at that :)

  14. Oh, I love this, dearie! You are a wonderful, TALENTED writer, and you absolutely should be writing.

    All last week, when I was struggling with how terrified I was at the thought of writing, I kept remembering something a friend said to me years ago, something about how God gave us each our talents for a reason and it isn't okay to ignore them. I barely listened to her at the time, alas, but now I think she was right.

  15. I told you in one of my first comments that you should write a book! You are an amazing writer and I truly believe you will do anything to set your mind to!!

  16. It is awesome to see and feel God moving with you and through you, reaching your own heart and the minds of so many. I, like you had made a decision years ago (eons ago write) and about a decade ago wrote a series of childrens book but unlike you, I was too scared of rejection to do anything about it. But something stirred inside me after the birth of Annabelle and I just sent them out to about 2 dozen publishers in January to a loud and clear "hell no" from many a many publishing house. But like you, I refuse to waste the gifts God gave me and instead of feeling like a failure, I have now started hunting down possible agents, or self publication possibilities. I tell you this, not to toot my own horn, but because I was in your shoes, I am still in your shoes and if you ever need an ear, support, or a reminder of how amazing you are and why you need to keep fighting the good fight I will be that for you if you need it. If I can do it you can and we will both exceed our expectation and will one day do book tours together. Amen. You and yours area always in our prayers. You will be great at this. GREAT!

  17. You're writing abilities are very good - go for it! Find a way to write for somebody, a business, etc -- you have a GIFT!! Prayers to you and your family and thank the Lord that service was such a blessing!!

  18. I am praying, my friend. To St. Joseph and to my little St. Fiona (feel free to ask her intercession, as well, as she's a stubborn lil' intercessor!). Dealing with a bit (OK, a LOT) of my own kind of fear right now, so it's nice to know you're in the same boat... kinda. Wish we had nice, sturdy boats that floated a lot better. :-) Hugs.

  19. Love and prayers coming across the big water to Michigan,by way of St. Joseph, straight up to God and by His grace, blessings poured back to you and yours.

    Of course you should write. And get paid.

    Be Not Afraid.

  20. I pity that you will always have to wonder if you have so many friends because you are witty and talented, or if it because you are unique, creative and interesting, or maybe because you instill hope in others. :) Writing is a tough career path, but you are plucky, and I think it would be much harder for you to not write than to fear rejection. Imagine the fear you would feel if you were told you could no longer share your story.

  21. Aggghh I love this so much I can barely stand it! Michigan mom, Catholic, starting as a freelancer--me, me, and me! Oh, and I'm starting a job as a labor and delivery nurse in two weeks--do I see an article in the making? ;)

    Seriously, this is such a good post on so many levels, praying for you!!

  22. That's why God brought us together!

    He is SO. SMART.


  23. Beautiful, beautiful post. So much of it resonated with me and I am going to go back and read it again just to soak it all in again. Love you!!!!

  24. Oooooooooh, it just makes my heart swell when holy women I admire appreciate the things I've said! Today has been a fabulous day for that :)

  25. Sometimes I forget what it is like to just have faith. Thank you for this.

  26. God' got a plan, Dweej. He's got a plan and He's so much bigger than us and if He's moving you in this direction, then we know He can work it out. Prayers and hugs to you!

  27. oh Dwija! I love you and the way you can understand what I need to hear even before I imagine it as a need. You're the best!

    This is an amazing post!

  28. It's not me, Amy! You can just give a big shout out to the Holy Spirit for this one :)

  29. He has a plan for you. Sending you lots of love, luck, support, hugs, and prayers!

  30. D, the kids and I sent a shout out to you at Mass yesterday. I've thought much about your post since I read it and am thinking about you and your beautiful family. Voicing fear is an act of courage.

  31. Thank you so much, Heather! Our family has been graced and lifed up by all these prayers. Beautiful things have already started to happen that I will share with all of you soon.

    God is so good!


  32. I think God left a pair of your shoes at my house Lady! I just found your blog last week and already love it! I had a bit of envy visit me yesterday as I read your tweets, your pinterestst and posts! It was a good kinda of envy, the envy of joy for others talents. Then I read this post and looked at my shoes! I didn't have to look at my bank account, I knew by the shoes!

    St. Joseph is a favorite among my constant begging for help! The common thread of talent meets saw but barely enough beyond the bread on the table! I am grateful for the talent, but of late battle folding to discouragement while I try to see the reasoning of God's will In this craziness.

  33. Overcoming fear is right, girl! You rock! Absolutely. Your bravery never ceases to amaze me, and I'm so excited at the prospect of you using your wonderful talents as a writer to make your life and the life of your family only that much better.

  34. Keep working it, sister! I love your posts and each one makes me laugh out loud (to the shock and horror of my children).
    There are no coincidences, God guides us and puts certain people and paths in our life. It is just up to us to choose them. (no pressure).
    Remember God is good... all the time.
    You are in my prayers!


    Don't let any rejection get you down...and when it does...think of the Help.

  36. I don't know how I missed this lovely post. Fear not. He is with you.
    Anyone who buys a house unseen and moves across the country and...and...all the things that you and your family have done is obviously huge in the faith department and a shining example to others. My prayer to you and your family.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...