Guest contributor Dee Dee Westbrook
My pastor recently spoke on being afraid. I had to sing a song right after his message that has been very personal to me since the first moment I experienced it. I made the terribly rookie mistake of listening to his message all the way up until I had to stand in front of the crowd he had just addressed and try to help them respond to the message of “Fear not!”
His question echoed for me as I began, “What are you afraid of?”
As I began singing the words, “You call me out upon the waters…” and then, “You make me brave…,” I asked myself, “What am I afraid of? What is it?”
It is not being liked? Not exactly. Is it not being heard? Maybe. Is it not being known? Bingo. Being Alone!
The word rang in my head and triggered that all too familiar chain reaction of head, heart, nose tickling, eyes watering, throat stuck. As a singer, you can imagine how inconvenient each of those might be when you’re trying to sing. I let it get to my head, my heart, my nose and that was it. I would need my eyes and throat to stay in tact. I spent that day battling the fine line of responding to my own story authentically in worship, while remaining open enough that those in front of me could find space to respond tin that moment as well without feeling burdened by mine.
Allowing myself to unpack that later, I have this to offer.
I have long believed that alone is the worst of all human conditions. To not be known, to not be loved or liked or heard is debilitating and lethal to the soul and, I believe, to the body.
I’ve been alone. Really alone. Not, there’s-a-backup-alone. Not well-there’s-always-so-and-so alone. Alone. Totally un-fought for.
I didn’t like it and it nearly killed me. Spiritually, emotionally, and yes, physically. All I can offer is thanks and praise to God for rescuing me out of the ‘alone’ in such an astounding way.
As women, isn’t that why we are too often silent? We fear if we speak up, if we step up and lead, that we will be alone when we do? I know that I fear that no one will follow me. People will be angry with me. No one will understand my heart as I speak. I will hurt and anger the people around me. I will be in the alone cycle again.
And so we stay silent. And in doing so, we alienate ourselves from each other and from the truth and we, inevitably, still feel alone.
But FEAR NOT! There is truth that God has whispered into our hearts. God has whispered these truths in other women around you too. It is not our job to hide these truths from those around us. It is our job to express these truths in love.
Sometimes that means speaking up. Sometimes it simply means quietly changing our actions.
Women of faith, we can no longer afford to keep each other at arms length! There is far too much hidden “alone” among us and we need to rise up to comfort each other. To empower each other. When we see one woman rising up in truth, it is not an opportunity to poise ourselves to take her spot when she falls. It is an opportunity, rather, to take her hand and make sure she is not alone.
We have to do a better job of working together rather than against each other. Otherwise, ‘alone’ will be our continued chosen condition.
Let’s speak to each other. Be honest with each other about our hurts. Bring our struggles and pain to the light and lift each other up. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LEAD.
It is no longer our place to stay silent, but to shine brightly and stand in confidence with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of God to those around us. BE A LEADER. There is truth in you that He has intimately revealed to you. Take courage in that!
My favorite part of the story of Peter walking on water used to be that Jesus reached out and saved Peter when the waves overtook him. That seemed comforting to me that when the waves got to be too much, Jesus would rescue me. Then I realized something that changed everything. Jesus was rescuing Peter from the second he stepped out of the boat. It didn’t start when Peter got scared. The waves were always too much for him. He chose to fear in that moment and cried out to Jesus. The waves are always going to be too much for us and we always have a choice.
We can choose fear or we can simply walk in the truth that God is good and mighty and has called us to step out. Fear not. Step out. Speak up. Lead well. You are not alone!