We seemed worlds apart, they with their beautiful, spacious houses and me with our two-bedroom rental with scratched linoleum and impossibly stained carpet. I wanted to be a generous and gracious play-date host, share a plethora of meals around our table, and build friendships with neighbors that ran deep and true. I almost convinced myself the reason I wasn’t this, not yet, was because of our house. Surely there was nothing wrong with being a little embarrassed of the humble space we called home?! But the moments I was truly honest with myself, I knew the problem didn’t lie with our house . . . it was inside me.
There was a dream bubbling up I hadn’t been able to ignore: to actually get to know my neighbors, to help grow a community of neighbors that does life-on-life stuff together and grows together in looking more like Christ. But as the old adage goes, everywhere I went, there I was.
Insecurity. Doubt. Fear. They wrapped themselves around my dream and kept it on a shelf.
When we buy a bigger house, then . . .
When we have a bigger table, then . . .
These conditional statements provided a sliver of hope, but it wasn’t enough to get me unstuck. The truth was that I believed I didn’t have what it takes to be the kind of friend and neighbor I wished I could be.
I was simply me. The one who struggled her whole life with feeling shy and awkward and out of place. The one who had few soul-deep friends because she had never learned how to be a soul-deep friend.
Between my current reality of rarely opening my door to invite in friends and neighbors and my dream of opening my heart, home, and life to my neighbors was what felt an impossibly wide gap. The gap, I thought, needed to be bridged all in one swift motion: jump in with both feet and don’t look back. Be all in or it’s not worth starting.
Perhaps you’re eying your own impossible gap, feeling too that you need to get from where you are today to where you want to go all in one giant leap. And like me, you feel frozen. Stuck.
Sweet friend, it’s time. Time to let the weight of that belief stop crushing you. Time to let a truer belief give you the courage to begin.
You don’t need an all-or-nothing leap. All you need is one baby step.
Take one baby step in the direction God is pulling your heart, and the fear begins to dissipate. That very first step is so often the very hardest. But as you take one shaky, baby step, then another, and another, you will find that those little steps keep getting easier. They will begin to gain momentum, like a snowball.
There is a mantra I adopted a couple years ago: the direction is more important than the pace. It reminds me of the power of a simple baby step in giving me the courage to begin.
Today I can stand to witness that baby steps truly changed the trajectory of my life. I am still me—I still feel that awkward hesitation before beginning a conversation, still am apt to second-guess myself and the value I can contribute—but I’m learning to stop limiting myself to how I default.
A practice of embracing openness that lets others into my still far-from-perfect house and see the less-than-perfect parts of me began with one tiny, baby step. One choice to linger in the front yard, one choice to offer the first smile to someone walking by, one choice to answer a knock at our door.
Courage doesn’t look so much like the absence of fear as it does like moving forward in spite of our fear. It can look like pushing against our grain (the way we default) and trusting that all the while we are being sanded, we are held in the great hands of the Master Sander who is and was and will forever be good.
That baby step before you, you don’t need to go it alone. The presence of God is wrapped around you. His nearness will fill you with courage as you begin.
When fear rises and tries to keep your dream tucked away on a shelf, may you find solace in this promise as you take just one little, baby step:
“You’re my place of quiet retreat, and your wrap-around presence becomes my shield as I wrap myself in your word!” (Psalm 119:114 TPT)
Have the courage to begin today!
Twyla Franz, Author & Blogger
More about Twyla-
Twyla blogs about her passion, neighborhood missional living, hoping to make it feel less intimidating for others to begin to open their own hearts, lives, and homes to their neighbors. She sees our call to fulfill the Great Commission as an invitation to be disciple-making-disciples, not just in the faraway places, but also right where we live—in our own neighborhoods. Twyla writes weekly at The Uncommon Normal, and an audio version of the posts is now available as a podcast under the same name. You may also connect with Twyla on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter.
If you could use some gentle encouragement to help you develop a lifestyle of missional living, check out her brand-new devotional, Cultivating a Missional Life: A 30-Day Devotional to Gently Help You Open Your Heart, Home, and Life to Your Neighbors.
Are tired of chickening out in life? Do you want to Chicken IN instead? Grab a copy of Chickening IN-from FEAR to Courageous FAITH and let the 8 Pillars of Transformation lead you on a journey to becoming the bravest version of you! And for a deeper study into overcoming fear add the companion workbook!