Wonder + Light

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Wonder + Light writes about her art and imagery, explaining both her creative process and how it is defined by her life experience both past, present, and future.

Fear is a Liar: Unlocking the Box Fear Put Me In

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Six years ago, I took a running leap off a cliff with my whole life screaming across the feeble promise of a wire.  Little did I know at the time, that a very uncharacteristic head-first dive would create a seismic wave that would ripple through the pages of my first journal. Gliding through that liminal space, my fear gave way to a child-like curiosity and wonder that has cascaded through so many facets of my life to the present day.  How could one simple choice to let go become such a pivotal moment? Allow me to explain…


Last month I took a leap of a different kind and it’s ripples have been no less significant.  I hopped on a plane to North Carolina, flying solo to an unfamiliar location ( a first for me), to drive to an unfamiliar lodge, to meet a bunch of strangers on top of a mountain, with only one common thread to bind us...visual artistry.  Okay, it was that and our mutual appreciation for the vision of The Breath and The Clay. 


I could hardly find my breath as I reluctantly traversed the threshold of the unknown to enter the house I’d call home for the weekend.


As I stepped inside, I was greeted with a name card corresponding with a seat at the table. 


Did you get that?  Let me repeat.  


I had a seat at the table


I hope that significance isn’t lost on you. 


After briefly signing in, I was quickly escorted upstairs to the room I would share with a complete stranger (Hey Sarah!!!) and a personalized gift waiting for me.  It was akin to the excitement and terror I felt the day I moved into my first college dorm room. As I was left to settle in, I sat on the bed and proceeded to hyperventilate not just a little.  Fear came knocking on my door like an old friend. I tried to ignore him as I quickly thumbed-off a few brief texts to The Weatherman, letting him know I’d arrived safely to a house of non axe murderers. But now I had a choice to make.  That same worn out choice I’ve made a million times before... but this time is different. I came all this way on a whim, but very expectantly.  So without hesitation, I turned to fear, grabbed him by the balls and reminded him who wears the pants here.  It was no small choice to be sure, but I didn’t come all this way to let fear eat my lunch...again.  



If we’ve bumped shoulders recently, you’ve likely heard me reference fear in some way. I’m sorry not sorry if that gets old to you.  The truth is, fear was an old friend of mine. We spent many years together. And ever since we broke up, he just keeps showing up random places, and he’s always trying to steal my damn food!  But on this particular day in June, I was really hungry! You see, a little over a year ago, God whispered some things, really amazing things...the sort of things that make you say “Here! take all my money”.  But God’s promises come at a cost and no small cost to be sure. But there’s one thing you can be absolutely sure of...it will be worth it!


Whatever he’s suggesting you to give up, albeit substance abuse, various inappropriate coping mechanisms, the secure job, or perhaps just your comfort...you can be sure that He intends to replace it with something better.  


Not buying it? No worries.

  

What if I told you God required the deconstruction of my “perfect” marriage to give me a better version of the same one?  


What if I told you that walking through sudden and debilitating mental illness is the thing that allowed me to find out who Jesus really is--not the guy they told me He was? --As tangible of an experience as I could ever have on this side of death. 


Believe it or not.  It’s true. 


I would tell you one thousand times over that life is certainly messier than it has ever been, but it is also better than it has ever been.  At great cost, yes, but I wouldn’t trade where I am and who God is in the midst of the mess for all the riches of the world. No, I would not.


So when the invitation to take part in your dreams, comes at the cost of facing a mountain of fears I’ve spent a lifetime piling up, well…you bet your ass I’m saying YES.  


Reluctantly, sure. 


But then it’s not the how that matters in the end, is it?


So here’s the deal..


Fear has been keeping me in a box with promises of comfort and safety.   Too long I stayed in that box. A prisoner of my own accord. Comfortably deprived.  That is until the promise didn’t hold. Because fear doesn’t keep his promises. Do you know that?  He doesn’t. Fear is a liar. And it took me far too long to realize that what I thought was comfort…was in fact prison. 


I was missing out on life.  


I was missing out on adventure. 


I was missing out.   


If there is one thing this Ennegram 7 doesn’t like it’s totes being left out!--hence the seat at the table, yo!  So when Love whispered and invitation to unlock the box, the cost no longer mattered. Which in this story means, I had to collect myself and walk down the stairs to experience the Visual Artist Retreat put on by The Breath and The Clay. And strangers quickly became friends. 


At this point we’re going to fast forward through all the best parts, like the fog-filled mountain sunrises, 2am hangouts, and mysterious green army men being secretly dispersed by some unknown attendee  (we’d later find out was a genius-play by my new friend Kellee), to hurriedly get to the point. 


And that is….


Fear is worth overcoming.  I made a choice to search out my freedom at the beginning of the year.  Turns out, at least for me, that freedom only comes by overcoming fear...and there’s a whole lot more of it that I ever dreamed there would be.  I fight with him daily. But I’ve taken more ground than I knew existed for me. So much so, that I am actually making a daily practice of seeking out areas of fear, both big and small, and overcoming them.  Things like agreeing to interviews, putting my face on video camera, showing up for live video conversation in the Makers and Mystics Book Club ( you totally need to be a part of), creating images that feel super vulnerable, and even writing this blog.  These might seem insignificant to you, but to me they are mountains I’ve moved. And I fully intend to move bigger and badder mountains tomorrow.  


Will Smith once said, “God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror.”


Terror be damned, because I have a lifetime of dreams dreamt!  God sized dreams. I dream of speaking engagements though I hardly feel qualified.  I dream of training and releasing people into their own creativity, though I’m not sure yet how.  I want to have hard conversations and explore that which makes me uncomfortable. I want to explore a diverse community that challenges and allows me to grow in the best way.  I seek to ignite a rebirth of wonder in the hearts of men, women, and children in a way that empowers their own expression of worship in whatever form it takes. I want to experience all these things and so much more, but it won’t happen if I don’t cross the threshold of terror or if I don’t choose to get out of my way. Let’s unlock this God-forsaken box together and climb out toward the unsafe...toward adventure. 


In the profound words of a familiar childhood book…

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so...get on your way!
— Dr. Seuss, Oh! The Places You'll Go!


~Lauren


P.S. If you enjoy super awkward Youtube videos or would like to see a behind the scenes video of the featured image on today’s post, you can view it below.  Please note, this video would not be possible without the incredible developing creativity of my magical daughter! I am so proud of this area of creativity she’s exploring.   And since she’s home for summer and keeps complaining about being bored, I put her tiny butt to work for me! We hope you can stomach my palpable awkwardness to enjoy and we look forward to producing better vids to come.