Finding Courage

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taken March 6, 2013I can’t remember a period of my life during which I wouldn’t have an anxiety dream about driving every once in a while. Isn’t that so weird? What child has anxiety dreams of driving a car without brakes?! But I did. And up until I was eighteen I didn’t even have my permit; not because of the fear, just because I didn’t need it, but I won’t say I wasn’t relieved. I tested for my permit last summer, and the fear wasn’t gone; after a few difficult experiences practicing, it had actually grown. I almost had a panic attack driving in a straight line on an empty street.  No longer was I simply afraid, but I was bitter and resistant. Still, behind all of this… I knew that I needed to drive. I knew that my family would benefit if I could drive myself places, but there was something else:

I knew that the enemy was trying to hurt me.

Why else would I be having those dreams since childhood? Something about my driving made him want to attack me; something good was hidden in the midst of my fear. Realizing that, I became determined to find courage. I’ve always kind of known about my need for courage, but not until a few weeks before my license test did I begin to believe maybe I could find it. I asked Jesus to take my fears and replace them with His strength.

It took action. It took doing what I was afraid to do and trusting Him to get me through it. And every time I drove, a little more of me began to hope that courage was coming. I got my driver’s license this week, a final victory against what the enemy tried to do to me. But more than that:

I found courage. And the craziest part?

I’d always had it.

When I drove despite fear, I was using courage. I thought I was doing it in order to gain courage, but no! It was to use what was already in me. Jesus wanted this for me, and He had already given me what I needed to do it– Him. I have courage because He has courage; I just need to rely on Him for it.

This truth has become louder and louder the past month. As I was slowly learning about courage in driving, it also began to leak into my life in other places. Not only did I recognize my need for social courage… I found it in me to put myself out there. I actually talked to people at school! And yes, I was awkward and talked too much and kind of imposed on a few conversations. But I was brave. And I’m learning that outgoing isn’t the same as brave; you can be outgoing yet invest nothing in others. That’s what takes courage–

Genuine love.

When I talk to someone at school with kindness and interest or when I drive on the freeway (those merges are scary, guys), I am expressing love. I am spending time with Jesus because I cannot do these things without Him, and I am worshiping Him by acting in that knowledge.

And you want to know something crazy? When I was at H&R Block this week, I ended up having a conversation with the woman who was working on my taxes. It came up that I had gotten my driver’s license that morning, and when she began talking about her experiences of learning how to drive, my eyes just kept widening– she’d had the same anxiety dreams I’d had! And now here she was, beautiful and successful and kind! It was just a little piece of hope for me. I can drive without fear now. I can initiate conversation now. I even went on a youth trip as a staff member for the first time! But…

Who knows what else I’ll do with this courage?

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