Sometimes we are challenged and we like it. We rise to the occasion.
Other times we are challenged and we dread it. We feel defeated before we begin.
Both are conditions of the heart.
Yes, sometimes (even most times) extraneous events and circumstances make challenges harder to confront. But every time, regardless of circumstances, challenges implicate either an increase of nerve or a failure of nerve.
I’ve felt very challenged this year. New job, new beginnings for each of my daughters, and the physical decline and finally the death of my mom.
Also, the appliances in my home are in hospice. Comparatively minor, yes, but real challenges right now.
It would be easy to coast in some areas given these circumstances. Few would blame me, right?
But a failure of nerve would mean-
- Not making painful decisions at work that simply must be made to do my job properly and stay on mission.
- Not reaching out to people in my life who are suffering and might need some of my already limited time and emotional capacity to engage.
- Not giving to my church in light of the CRAZINESS of college tuition, when I believe the local church is the hope of the world.
Fear rules the entire process of displaying a failure of nerve. We can turn that fear into something useful. I’m afraid if I don’t record these potential failures of nerve, they will be realities for me. This means-
- I have to do hard things professionally, including laying off people.
- I have to do hard things personally, including engaging with those who need relationship even though I’m tired myself.
- I have to do hard things financially, even though college is expensive and stoves break and computers die at very inopportune times.
I have a failure of nerve problem. For me, public confession is the best way to engage that human condition of cowardice and keep myself transparent.
- I laid off some really nice, smart people, and I’m feeling sad.
- I am reaching out to a few who are hurting, and I’m feeling tired.
- My husband and I are figuring out a giving plan to our church, and I’m feeling strapped.
Right now, the only step for me is to lean in. You have to lean in to the messes. If you are follower of Jesus, in fact, you are required to run toward the messes—your own and those of others.
So I’m leaning in right now. Stay tuned.
In what area do you have a failure of nerve? And, just as importantly, what are you going to do to confront it?