Learning Through Terror; Posing Real Questions


Over the last few months, I’ve had many moments of being afraid, even more of trying  something completely new, and a few of terror. I found myself on a plane for the first time, without my close family, and going to a new country for the first time. I’m afraid that if the person next to me had wanted any sort of conversation they would have been wholly disappointed. I had lots to write about and lots of paper and ink to write with. When I journal, I often just write whatever is flowing in my head, which seems quite natural, and that’s what I did. It’s almost embarrassing to look back on the beginning of my journal compared to the end. So much has changed in so short a time.

It’s fun to have little things in your life to learn from, people unraveling a scrap of knowledge to you or coming in contact with an experience that you gain thoughts about. Then something big and terrifying glares you in the face, and it isn’t easy to say, “Well, what can I learn from this?” and if we do, we don’t usually mean it. When our greatest fears look us in the eyes, it’s not easy to look them back. When pain is real, and the desire to run from it is overwhelming, how do you refuse to obey your legs? We can talk about hard things and how to deal with them, but what happens when it’s not just talk anymore?

I have a part of me that likes excitement. Doing hard things is wonderful.  But there is something still undeniably attractive about a quiet home. Home wouldn’t be home if it wasn’t a safe, wonderful place, always waiting for me to return to. We can’t fix things by running away from them. By running, we bury our pain and break ourselves by telling ourselves lies. While facing pain is a hard thing, one that hurts, it is such a better option than hiding it. Facing hard things takes humility and honesty; sometimes it’s admitting our faults and we think this will injure our confidence; in the long run, it will only nurture it.

I have discovered that deep relationships with other people are hard to be found by what each person can do-it’s what we can’t do, what we struggle with, what we fear, that creates closeness. Experiencing pain with someone is sure to build relationships. It’s difficult to find comfort in someone who is always more talented, and easier to find it in someone who just is. We do have fears. We do have pain. Only if we address them with humility will we not continue to re-open our own wounds.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela

It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers.
Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness…because as He is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  We love Him because He first loved us.

1 John 4:17-19

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