So often I put myself in a straitjacket. A provocative word – but I use it to emphasize that I am the one who self-restrains. Nobody else seems to confine or limit me more than me. And it seems that the older I get, the less free I become. Sometimes, there are many movements I want to freely make, postures to take, or places to go, but I resist desire and instead – follow the “shoulds” of life that bind instead of free me. Enslaved by my fear, I fail to recognize that I could choose differently and get unstuck.
Most people would not say the words “Mollie” and “risk-taker” in the same sentence unless a capital and bold “NOT” was thrown in there. And I don’t necessarily just mean cliff diving. I mean risking relationally. My fear of losing trumps my risk for gaining. I too often play it safe and forget the options and freedom I have. I am closed to God and people more than I want to admit. My fear immobilizes me and makes me lose out on incredible adventure, fun, and intimacy as I interact with inhibition and mistrust.
My cycle is like this more often than not:
fear – mistrust – no risk – loneliness – isolation – despair – no hope
But it could be like this:
trust – risk – receive – community – love – gratitude – joy
Should I forfeit love and joy because there’s a chance of hurt and pain?
Being open to risk and trust is the difference in the two cycles above. We can only fill our hands when they are open. We can only taste sweet communion when our mouths are open. We see beauty and light when our eyes are open. Clenched fists and bracing block receiving. Fear leads to hopelessness while trust can lead to love and joy.
We see the maturity of Jesus, as He risked and was open to death because of the joy set before Him. His openness to risk and His trust in His Father was and is evidenced by how He lived. More was gained than lost after He trusted His Father. The cross loosens our chains and shackles and sets us free. We need not have a spirit of fear. We have the Spirit of God.
Mollie Johnston moved to Charlotte from Tennessee to pursue her Masters in Counseling at Gordon-Conwell. Having completed that degree she currently serves as the Client Coordinator and is a Resident Counselor with The Barnabas Center. Mollie is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee and holds a BA in Spanish from University of Tennessee, Knoxville.