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Overcoming fear and taking risks; how making inspired mistakes move us forward

By Vernon A. Williams

When we were children, imagination was the portal through which our minds and spirits leapt to infinite possibilities. As we grew older, our thoughts began more and more to imprison us from even conceiving the notion of the unforeseeable.

While our knowledge of faith increases as our spiritual walk matures, the practice or absolute acceptance this notion of “the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things unseen” becomes increasingly challenged by intellect and logical thinking.

One of the most dangerous things that a Christian can do is try to outsmart God. But whether you are religious or not, it is self-defeating to constantly question whether or not you can or will do better than you are doing – or if you will be able to sustain whatever success you enjoy.

As consuming as intimidation and dread can be, the truth is that 95 percent of those things that we fear most never actually come to fruition in our lives. One of the most horrifying prospects of all is to contemplate what you refused to pursue out of fear of failure. As the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

So many people would rather play it safe in order to avoid risks. They choose to settle for sustained mediocrity rather than chance erring. The truth is, inspired mistakes – that is, those made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration – often actually move us forward and closer to the ultimate realization of dreams.

One of the most daunting life obstacles is confronting deep-seated apprehensions.

To help navigate this introspection, consider the wisdom of famed painter Vincent Van Gogh who contrasted life to a canvas and the manner in which you choose to live it as the artwork you apply to that blank space. On October 2, 1884, Van Gogh wrote:

If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie… That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.

You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.

Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares — and who has once broken the spell of “you can’t.”

Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.

But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that, in short, breaks, “violates”…

The sports world is familiar with Michael Jordan failing to make his high school basketball team during his sophomore year. He could have relinquished at that youthful point and decided that hoops was not his sport. Instead, he decided to use his shortcoming for inspiration to regroup and come back stronger. The rest is history.

To remain on sports for a moment, in the game of baseball, a player who can get three hits for every 10 at bats is among the elite. If he sustains that rate for a lifetime, odds are he will wind up in the hall of fame. Ponder that truth. He fails seven out of ten times but stands among the best ever in the end.

Two takeaways. The first is, everything is relative. Before a man or woman beats themselves into spiritual submission because of what they are not always on the winning end, they should compare the success rate of those in similar ventures. Secondly, the driving force psychologically should not be how many misses you have but, with persistence and necessary adjustments, how many hits.

Most billionaires confess that they loss count of how many failures they experience on the way to their crowning achievements. Was it necessary to reconsider goals and objectives and undergo a total redirect? Yes.

Were there times when more knowledge, experience or access to expertise helped turn the corner? Absolutely.

Were there moments of achievement that came without the requisite knowledge of how to sustain them? Of course. Bottom line, if that road was easy, everyone would take it.

Why is this message so relevant during a time in which the world is going through an unprecedented health crisis, when there is so much uncertainty in the air, when people are filled with doubt and apprehension? Because it is the aftermath of this ordeal on which we should focus. When the Lord brings us through this pandemic – and I did not say “if” but “when” – we should all be prepared to take all that we do to the next level.

You cannot possibly survive this ordeal and not be influenced to raise the level of your praise, raise the level of your worship, raise the level of your gratitude, raise the level of your servant life and finally, raise the level of expectation when it comes to maximizing the gifts God has given you.

Remain faithful throughout, then go to work realizing your dreams when it is all over. Never settle for the same level of acquiescence or mediocrity or submission. From this point out forge ahead without head to stand up, speak up and step up. God has purpose for your life to fulfill. You were made for such a time as this.

CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected]

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