Fearless

kalyanvarma_lion_walking_africaCan you recall a memory when you were fearless? A moment in time without hesitation; an experience or endeavor commanded through audacity but advanced through ambition? Consider a time where you made a choice to be truly fearless. Not because life forced you into a corner, but because you made the choice to not let an emotion dictate the outcome of a given situation or season.

Often when we hear the word fearless we equate its meaning to an individual, aspiration, or experience. When presented with distress we often riddle through our mind and find the perfect explanation as to why our fear is logical. We have all observed someone that appears fearless on the surface correct? In my life a few individuals immediately come to mind.

1.) My parents – They have been taking risks long before I was able to acknowledge them as risk takers. Not only have they taken on opportunities with endless financial uncertainty, they have also taken countless risks on people society may not wish to “deal with” otherwise. As their daughter I have often been on the receiving end of advice I did not ask for, you know, because they are my parents. A younger Anna would roll her eyes and discard about 50% of what was offered up. However, after a heavy dose of humility and hard experiences I am constantly tuned in to receive their advice at every occassion. In this example I encourage you to find fearlessness through humility. Be present, observe those who go after life instead of responding to life as it comes to them, and never discard advice from a wise person.

2.)  My Brother- The truth is, both of my brothers are fearless. For the purpose of this discussion, however, I want to point to my eldest brother. On the surface it is a simple response when I’m prompted as to his whereabouts. He is a Captain in the Army, and working through residential training to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. He is waste deep in research and has achieved opportonuites to be published in various medical  articles thus advancing his career. Though I am very proud of his accomplishments I am more proud of the hurdles he has faced with fearlessness. When he was rejected by the Air Force for a medical school scholarship he turned around the next day and applied with the Army. Less than a month later he was the only one of hundreds of applicants to be given full tuition through medical school. I have watched him go after life with a  fearlessness that is rooted deep in the person he has chosen to become. He is confident enough to be the guy you want operating on you, but humble  enough that there is a reverence for the preciousness of life that leaves him vulnerable to fail at any moment. His fearlessness comes in valuing human life enough to sacrifice his own for 12 plus years, only to tend to the most life threatening   and fragile of circumstances. He has instilled in me an understanding that  countless individuals have faced their fears as a means of giving hope to those of us who need their gifts. Be fearless because what you have to offer others depends on it.

3.) Memo and Renay– Memo and Renay operate an orphanage out of Mexico that services the physical, mental, and emotional needs of children. I have great respect for these individuals as I have witnessed the sacrifice of leaving behind what is comfortable and submitting to a life surrendered. More importantly they have created an environment where children can leave their fear, pain, and rejections at the door. Through their willingness to move boldly and fearlessly they continue to plant seeds of hope in the hearts of children that have experienced unimaginable hurt. In many ways I see this couple as far more fearless than anyone I have had the privilege of knowing. Often it is nice to think about sacrifice, to romanticize what it could produce, to wonder what you “might,” offer someone who needs your gift; but to act on sacrifice, and to do so with a heart of service, takes true courage. Memo and Renay didn’t wake up fearless. In fact I’m sure they know better than most what true fear of failure feels like, but, somewhere along the way (maybe many times along the way) they have chosen not to give into fear. In this way they have set a new standard for what it means to live fearlessly. Had they not moved forward because of a feeling, countless needs that they are gifted and equipped to handle would remain unmet.

17990686_1284762784944386_8977629366772103283_n

To learn more about Our Surrendered Lives Ministry visit the link below:

Our Surrendered Lives

In the wake of an increasing need for me to push my own fears aside and go forth in pursuit of utilizing my gifts these examples (and many others) inspire me to push fears of failure aside. They have taught me that fearlessness isn’t a characteristic or personality trait. It isn’t as though some of us are immune to fear while others whither behind the barriers of our mind. They have taught me that yearning to see the fruition of purpose does not eliminate fear but it does change how much fear is allowed to control us. You don’t have to be business owners, surgeons, or head off an orphanage to live fearlessly. Start small; build yourself in the direction of your dreams with diligence and humility. Give your ability to make decisions more power than you give your emotions the right to leave you wavering. My greatest fear is that I will settle as unused potential, limited by fear. For this reason I will continue to break apart fear in every season, moving toward life with intention.

Ridicule of Faith

5770042200_fc5f671eb1_o

No one forced me to be a Christian. No one brainwashed me or shoved me into a confessional. No one took away my ability to think freely. No one forced me to go to church. There were no mandatory Jesus meetings in my home, no memorizing bible verses, and there certainly were no “religious fronts” where I (or my brothers) were expected to behave like perfect God fearing angels.

My home was filled to the brim with a bit of everything. From the alcoholic who had no family at Thanksgiving, to the 6 musicians of a heavy metal band passing through, the Bishop of Bulgaria, foreign exchange students from 4 different countries, individuals of wealth and individuals of poverty, heterosexuals, homosexuals, felons, mentally handicapped, and the homeless. This is not to say, look at what wonderful “christians” you all were. No. This is about humanity. It’s about respect. It’s about the assumptions, the many assumptions, that have been made about me and I’m sure, my family. I will not speak for them because the truth is we all vary to some degree in our beliefs and relationship to God. Nonetheless, our commonality is the diversity that we were purposefully surrounded by.

I would hope that my life reflects my morals, values and faith all of which are interconnected. I would hope that if you have spent any amount of time with me, I impressed upon you a sincerity through my words and actions. I would hope that even if the aforementioned qualities were not translated, that you at least felt respected by me.

Here is where things become a bit blurry to me. I have friends of all walks of life, status, beliefs, and ethnicities. I can confidently say that any one of my friends, and many of my acquaintances would agree that never once did I hit them upside the head with a bible or slander their lives by using scripture as a weapon. I believe they would say I am typically defenseless, a solid listener, and an active advocate for enriching their lives however I can. What I don’t think some of my friends would accept is that the core of who I aspire to be is a direct product of my faith. Not in the form of “because I have to” but “because I get to”. You may think I’m full of it, that’s fine. I’m far from perfect. I’m human, and I’m flawed, and sometimes I’m down right living in ways I’m not proud of. Yet, here I am.

But why is it that the most “tolerant” individuals mock and ridicule my beliefs so harshly?

Why do I as an individual of Faith have to be directly tied to everything you hate about religion?

Why is it that I automatically get bundled into this view of bigotry, judgement, and hatred?

And how many people of faith, any faith, have you had real discussion with?

Opposing beliefs in no way shake me, but I do at times become weary of this very generalized perception of what it means to be a Christian. I know many of you are pissed and you believe that the God I worship is responsible for the suffering in our world. I know you would like to sit down and hack at me all the tough questions, and to be honest, I would love to talk about them as well. But, we will never get there. Because you have already made conclusions about me and about my beliefs. That divide, the divide that breads on assumptions, rests on a lack of respectable conversation, and capitalizes on the seemingly unexplainable heartaches we face perpetuates estranging misconceptions on both sides of the discussion.

I think you would find that I too have had heartache, questioned my faith, lived dishonestly at times, and lacked hope. I think you would find that we are far more alike than we are different, and, I would even venture to say that we could have a respectable conversation about both my story and yours. I don’t want to have these conversations because by God it’s time you get saved, I want to have these conversations because you’re a person and I like people.

Maybe next time you make a slanderous post about my faith, spread messages of hatred by religiousness (man made not God made) you’ll consider the ones who respect your beliefs or lack thereof. Perhaps you’ll think of the ones who don’t demean your beliefs or lack thereof. Even saying that I know I’m gunning for ridicule, because, that is the way the internet works. Nonetheless I think it’s worth mentioning, and I also think it’s worth  remembering we only know as much about each other as we are willing to discuss. Much love and many blessings.