I Could Have – But I Was Afraid!

11 Dec

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. ~Louis E. Boone

One of our greatest fears is the fear of failure. Exactly when and at what age we took on this mantle of fear I’m not really sure. I think it comes when we join other little children in pre-school or kindergarten classes. Up until that time we were the centers of our own universe. Now, we had to comply with a set of rules and regulations given to us by these giant authority figures. Don’t hit or push other children. Learn to share your toys with others. Don’t speak unless spoken to. Wait your turn. Don’t bud in line. Just the beginning of following a lifetime of rules.

With rules comes compliance, or in some cases non-compliance. And with non-compliance comes judgment. Good little boys and girls follow the rules and bad little boys and girls who don’t, get punished. The age of judgment has befallen us. From this point on everything that we do and say will be judged and evaluated by someone other than ourselves.

Do you remember what else came with a teacher’s reprimand? The laughter and snickering of our classmates. This often hurt more than the teacher’s words. The response from our peers embarrassed us, and we swore at that point to not put ourselves in that position ever again. But of course that was far easier said than done, considering the fact that as human beings we take a perverse joy in judging and laughing at others. As long as we aren’t the target.

As we grow older and experience more and more of these embarrassingly judgmental circumstances, our fear of failure grows, and we develop ways to avoid these situations. The number one avoidance method is to not do anything until we are sure we won’t fail. And since we cannot know beforehand what we do will succeed or not, we often choose to do nothing. We begin avoiding new things, and thus have limited ourselves to only what we know and are comfortable with.

And then we grow older, and naturally begin looking back over our lives. This is when it hits you. Along with all your triumphs and successes comes a list of all the things you did not do, because you were afraid. For some, those that faced their fears and took risks, there may not be too many of these. But for many others this list of could have done, might have done and should have done, tells a story of a life of littleness.

Now a life of littleness may be what you desired. And although, I believe that each of us was created by God to live a life of Greatness, he did give us free choice and promised never to judge us for the choices we made. So, if you are looking back over your life with regrets of what you did not do, remember, you don’t live in the past (it’s gone), nor the future (it’s not here yet), but only in the present. Don’t be afraid to experience new things NOW, and live the life you’ve always wanted.

My love to you,

Michael

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