When fear and rightness dance together

by Kristin on February 22, 2013

in Love, family & community

Photo by Dino ahmad ali

Certain moments and opportunities just seem right. No doubt about it.

If I take a closer look, often those feelings of rightness go hand-in-hand with feelings of ease and safety and certainty. The more doable something is, the more right it often feels.

Not surprisingly, the opposite is true, too. When we get that feeling that something isn’t right, that thing is often accompanied by a slew of unknowns and uncertainty. The decision or situation usually involves steps that feel scary, which can make moving in that direction feel wrong. Fear is an important protector from danger, both known and unknown.

But every so often, something feels right and scary all at once. Somehow, the rightness isn’t apart from the fear, or in spite of it. Instead, it seems to be more right because of the fear—because, by its very nature, it’s intertwined with unknowns and risk.

And when rightness and fear become one entity like that, the feeling of right intensifies—it feels even more right.

That’s how buying a house has felt to me, both when I bought our current home in 2005 and when Jason and I took a leap of faith on Wednesday, putting an offer on a bigger house that’s better suited for our family of five. (If you’ve been wondering why I was MIA all week, now you know! I’ll probably be somewhat scarce around here for the next month or two, as well…)

Taking out a massive loan is, in itself, scary. But to be honest, the financial part has also always been a bit abstract for me. I think the real fear I feel at these moments has more to do with meaning than money. What does this leap, this move, represent? What does it mean to our life? How will it shape how I see myself, my family and community, our future?

Those questions—and the answers—were huge when I was deciding to buy our current house, as a single mom. Between 2003 (when my first marriage ended) and 2005 (when I bought the house), I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to pull UP roots—how to get out of Central Illinois and the town I never wanted to move my family to in the first place. I was wounded and on the defensive, fighting everything that would symbolically or actually keep me rooted here. Buying a house was at the top of that list.

But all that struggling and fighting against things? It was exhausting. Everything in my life felt like a struggle. Eventually, I decided to stop fighting the state of my life—where I was not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. That decision to unclench my fists was at a turning point, and, as I wrote in one of my first-ever blog posts, that turning point hinged on the big, scary act of buying a house. As soon as I took that leap, all kinds of good things started happening.

The house we will be closing on in April, if all goes according to plan, carries with it different fears and different dreams. It marks a different kind of turning point in our lives, too, but it’s still very much a moment when what’s scary and what’s right seem to be doing this beautiful, frightening, yet irresistible dance before us. We’re ready to join in.


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  • http://twitter.com/stephdavidson stephdavidson

    YES. Though I think sometimes it’s only the big things that catch our attention in this way, as far as right & safe vs. right & risky (and their opposites) — buying/selling a house, taking a new job, moving, making big commitments — but these sorts of choices are all around us. I’m sure I’m a broken record, but there’s nothing like playing a contact sport to bring this home on a daily basis. You have to risk, and really put all your effort into your actions, or you’ll be clobbered. But you can’t risk foolishly, or you’ll clobber yourself. So you have to keep reading that line, not getting comfortable with the safety or with recklessness. You put it really well in terms of big decisions like this, but it really got me thinking about how we deal with this sort of differentiation in small moments.

    On a related note, a friend of a friend is doing a out-of-the-comfort-zone project for Lent and reflecting on it on her blog, that you might find interesting: http://raeganrinchiuso.wordpress.com/.

    • http://twitter.com/kt_writes Kristin T.

      I love the contact sport analogy, Steph! Thanks for sharing your perspective, and for keeping me thinking. (And for the link, as well!)

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    I’m so excited for you. While I’ve yet to buy a house, I’ve had a few of those scary-but-right experiences and moving forward on those has resulted in some of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

  • rayhollenbach

    The word “Home” is asked to bear many meanings–as varied as each of us who find the word on our lips. It can smell of fresh bread and bring to mind a thousand warm moments. For others, it’s a place of betrayal and stark separation. A “New Home” is fraught with beginnings and hope. My wish for you, Jason, and all three children is that Home will become a place of feasting and security, where husband and wife can create their piece of heaven on earth, and children can return again and again, bringing more with them each time they come. May fear give way to exhilaration!

    • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

      ^^^^ That is perfect. Amen.

    • http://twitter.com/kt_writes Kristin T.

      What a beautiful blessing, Ray. Thank you! We will look forward to sharing our new home with you on your next visit our way.

  • http://twitter.com/katiengibson Katie Noah Gibson

    Wise and lovely words, Kristin. Congratulations on the house – I can’t wait to see what it holds for your family. (And this goes with your One Word, no?)

  • themoderngal

    Congratulations! I know that mix of fear and rightness well — and buying a house definitely qualifies. I know it will be an exciting and stressful time for you and your family. I can’t wait to hear more about the change.

  • http://jenniferluitwieler.com/ Jennifer Luitwieler

    I second the fab Mr. Ray H. You’ve seen many sides of HOME. I for one love that you have gone from wanting to leave to being a real part of that community. (That is, in fact, my story of falling in love with Tulsa.) also, I can’t wait to visit!

    • http://twitter.com/kt_writes Kristin T.

      I can’t wait for you to visit, either!

  • http://twitter.com/LisaColonDelay Lisa Colón DeLay

    Buying a house and moving have been said to be as stressful as a death in the family. I can see why. Everything changes and moves. Lots of ends to tie up and the whole process is exhausting. I’ve wanted to move to a different house but now that I’ve lived in the same one since 2001 the thought is pretty scary the longer time goes by.

    With letting go this new chapter will hold many things the current chapter could not. With the new space you’ll be able to stretch out on a few levels…and some you probably don’t even know about yet. :)

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  • Margaret Feinberg

    Kristin, praying that God takes away your fears and surrounds you with comfort!

    • http://twitter.com/kt_writes Kristin T.

      Thank you! I have been feeling that comfort settle in, pushing out the fear.