I guess I didn't grow up with a lot of "fear". My parents didn't allow us to watch scary movies and as I grew up I pretty much refused to watch anything that could possibly be in that genre. One of the biggest fears that some of my friends had was all to often associated with public speaking and I personally have always enjoyed it. Of course there are the deeper fears - the fear of being truly known, of not being loved, of divorce, of death, and the list could continue...but in our house - fear wasn't given much recognition. I credit that to the grace and mercy of my Savior and the wisdom He imparted to my parents. I don't take it lightly or for granted.
My biggest dream growing up was to be a missionary in Africa. 2 1/2 years ago, that became a reality. Never, as in LITERALLY ever, did it cross my mind that I would face fear upon being where I had always wanted to be...yet, I feel I've faced fear more in the past 2 years than in my first 26 combined.
I mentioned I enjoyed public speaking. I also have a degree in Education and I adore teaching. Funny thing though...you can't do either of the above when you talk like a two year old (and let's be honest that's being very generous on most days). English is not a language that is spoken very often here in Madagascar. French is popular and Malagasy is the official language (yeah, there's not a Rosetta Stone for that!). After studying Malagasy for 6 months and making mistakes like saying "I am going to family" instead of "I am going to church" or "I would like the meat shirt" instead of "I would like the red shirt", and the list could go on...we moved closer to our people group where a Southern Dialect of Malagasy is spoken which is essentially a melting pot of several different groups of dialects...think 40 - 60% differing vocabulary. The word for "believe" is suddenly the word for "drink" and so on and so forth.
Fear was found in opening my mouth (and some days still is). Fear was occasionally disguised by my laughing at myself in front of the people but getting home and crying over it. Ask anyone who has learned another language and they'll say "practice, practice, practice" or "immerse yourself!" which is easier said than done when you have the national people laughing in your face at your pronunciations or confusion over what's going on.
Fear strips you. It bares your soul to anyone who is around you. Fear makes you look like a fool.
And honestly? That's absolutely no fun...
(Part 2 coming your way on Monday)