“Today I started a scrapbook,” she told me excitedly as we sat talking about God and futures. She had a lot of future ahead. Alex was 19 and a sophomore at University of Texas her blonde ringlets bounced as she talked, I imagined her having a similar expression and posture as a 5 year old asking her mom for a popsicle.
She went on, “I started a scrapbook describing all I hope for… so I can picture it. I just started cutting out the things that I want, a white two story house, a black volvo SUV, even the cute husband and number of cute kids.”
I sat speechless, trying not to laugh. I knew this was a girl that adored God and sincerely knew Him. And while, I had never known anyone to be so bold as to build an actual scrapbook, I thought to myself-
I have one of those. We all have them.
We all have the pictures of our lives in our minds, how they “should” be. How we hope them to be- How we picture them.
The powerful scrapbooks of our lives that exist in our heads.
When we will be married.
How many kids we will have.
Where we will live.
How much money we will make.
What our jobs will be.
What our houses will look like.
How our husband will treat us.
The places we will travel.
Who our friends will be.
How our kids will behave.
How close our grandkids should live.
When we will retire.
What our ministries will be like.
At some point we realize life doesn’t work that way. We can’t control the actual scrapbooks- the ones reflecting the past rather than the future. But we still long to try. We long to try to control our lives and to build the picture of the life we want.
And to let go? The idea that we would actually hand it over to God and say- go. Build it. Whatever you want with mine…. it is terrifying.
What if God has….
A difficult husband
Moving from the town we love
An apartment instead of a house
as part of my story? What if He let me suffer? What if He asked me to sacrifice? What if none of my dreams come true?
The very thought of praying anything…. demands everything. We have to face our fears… if we believe God is real, if we believe He has an eternal heart, we have to face the fact that our temporary comfort and scrapbook may be messed with by a God like that.
Acts 17 says that God determined the times set for each person on earth and the exact places where they should live. Isn’t that absolutely mind blowing? Nothing about our lives is by accident. And in Galatians Paul writes that before time God planned the good works we would do in our lives.
Our stories are already written by God…
are we living them?
I wasn’t. My plans for my life included God and ministry but I was writing my story and when anything too uncomfortable pressed in I got nervous. For years I pushed away nudges about adoption, about writing, teaching. I wasn’t going to do things that threatened the picture of the life I thought I was supposed to have until it occurred to me that perhaps I am missing the very best parts and perhaps I care more about this short life than the one that will last forever.
I know I’m not alone. I know so many of us are living stuck and afraid, instead of remembering there is more.
What are you missing because you are afraid?
If I weren’t afraid I would ____________.
Life is short! We have to live the stories God has written for us.
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If I weren’t afraid I would make friends and spend time with them.
If I were not afraid I would quit my fifth grade teaching position, finish grad school, and then go to work with underprivileged kids somewhere .
Oooh, if I weren’t afraid I would…I would what? I have to say I’m in a good place right now. My life isn’t at all what I thought it would be, it’s better! But as I’m typing this I realize my answer. I’m afraid to pray Anything, because I don’t want all this to go away. I need to continue to have faith and remember that through the good times and bad, God has NEVER forsaken me and he won’t start now. So, if I weren’t afraid, I’d pray Anything.
Jennie Allen says
This is so honest and I bet a lot of people relate- I do. We get comfy and nearly numb and to risk it is scary. Thanks for this.
If I weren’t afraid I would… write. I want to say write more, but when I’m not writing at all it because I am afraid. I think I would also actually start living instead of going through life with its ups and downs in a defensive way – if I can just make it though this whatever is going on, then I can start living.
Lindsey Bell says
If I weren’t afraid, I would take more risks-in relationships and in writing.
If I weren’t afraid, I would lead a Bible Study.
Jennie Allen says
If I weren’t afraid, I would be able to open my home to those around me without fear of judgement.
Without fear of them seeing who I truly am and not loving me anyway.
Oh I hear you there….
Anna Radchenko says
If I weren’t afraid, I would write a book.
If I weren’t afraid, I would find it within myself to write a book. The fear of not being accepted or liked hold me back.
If I weren’t afraid, I would tear down the walls that have built up and let others in.
Becky W. says
I’m with you Kristi! I’ve actually been working on that very thing this year and I am very scared, but it’s an exciting kind of scared. I actually feel like I’m fully alive and living again! I’m praying God gives you the courage to begin the painful process of breaking those walls.
If I weren’t afraid I would pray more.
If I weren’t afraid, I would be more bold and insist that my husband attend church with me instead of just asking if he’d like to go.
If I weren’t afraid, I would live and love unapologetically and let others into my life. I would not fear being hurt, hiding my flaws, feeling guilty or shameful for indiscretions in my life. If I weren’t afraid, I would face each new day, each new adventure and journey with hope and joy!
If I weren’t afraid, I would be truthful with friends and family when I am hurt and dissapointed rather than just brushing it off time and time again. Trusting that they will understand me and love me no matter what.
If I weren’t afraid i would share my music with people. Writing music and hearing GOd speak to me through words and song, being woken up in the middle of the night , etc. . . I have kept it all to myself not wanting anyone to burst my bubble or have opinions of it. Its the place where I hear him so clearly and where I feel aloud to just be Beth. If I weren’t afraid, I would let Him do whatever he wanted me to do with what the music He’s given me.
If I weren’t afraid, I would consider the possibilities…I love my life right now. Welcoming guests in my house is a stretch because I want it “magazine prefect”…which doesn’t exist on my budget… I know I need to get over that to allow God to grow friendships in my life. I feel very safe in my quiet life, which probably looks veer different from the way Jesus lived, and my anything should look more like Jesus.
Nanette Edmonds says
If I weren’t afraid I would let God take back control of my life. Satan has a stronghold over me based in fear and illness to tbe point I find fault with ever fiber of my being, including any word I try to utter to God. When I read my bible or blogs like yours, I feel like need to sneak around to do it. I need healing.
Carol H. says
If I weren’t afraid I would stop thinking that everything had to be perfect in order to be good enough.
If I weren’t afraid I would live a life totally surrendered to the God of Creation, completely trusting Him for everything. I would boldly share my faith at every opportunity and live a fearless life like Paul. If I weren’t afraid I think God could use in ways I can’t even imagine!
LuAnn Poteete says
If I wasn’t afraid….of judgement I would open my hope to all…I would quit trying to get the results I want in my children’s lives and let God work…I would bold proclaim God to the high school students I see at my job!!
If I weren’t afraid I would be serving God in overseas missions. I have felt a calling since my youth, but got married and started a family and didn’t feel like my family would fit into the idea that I had of how this would look. God is renewing this calling and opening doors and my eyes to the possiblities that exist for serving him overseas. I’m now both excited and afraid of those possibilities.
Jennie Allen says
I relate to this too and love that God is faithful to bring us back to the places he wants us- I am excited for whatever is ahead for you!
If I weren’t afraid I would sell everything and become a missionary wherever God would send me.
If I weren’t afraid…..I would stop focusing on the end of our current foster placement and live in the moment joyfully with all 4 of our kids while they are here. I know this is a refininig time. I know we are better for her presence in our lives. But it is hard. I miss my old, easy life. If I weren’t afraid, I would let God lead this moment today.
If I weren’t afraid I would write that book …
If I weren’t afraid I would feel free to be creative in more areas of my life. I really don’t know what I’m “afraid” of~~my own preconceived ideas, or what society thinks “creative” is, but I know that I need to leave that all behind!
If I weren’t afraid, I would quit my job. I would get another one, of course, but my current job is not healthy.
If I weren’t afraid I would go back to school and get a degree.
If I weren’t afraid, I would leave my job as well. I would find one that didn’t just feel familiar, stagnant, stale. I would choose to search and open my mind to the possibilities of another industry, career path, a new way of living.
Christina Burrell says
Start a women’s Bible study in my home.
If I weren’t afraid…
I would follow through on my dream to begin a Christian community that was a self supporting farm for teenagers that have been “thrown away” in an environment that allows them to be healed by the love of God and the hands of Christ.
It scares me to the core but then it’s not supposed to be about “safe.” He watches over us, and we can see that He does, and yet He asks us to risk it all on Him, His love, His purposes. The more you get to know Him, how can you do anything less? I’d love to read the book though it unnerves me to even think about it…that’s why I must!
D Hopkins says
If I weren’t afraid I would do many things. On the top of the list I would get a dual degree to become a midwife. I would also write a book, in all of the spare time I had left over, wink wink. And I would allow myself to open up to a community again and learn to trust people all over.
karen r says
I would reach out to others to try to form friendships. I am too afraid of being hurt again and being rejected and of all the effort it takes.
C.C. @ I'm On My Way - my journey as a Christ follower, wife, mamma, & fibromyalgia fighter says
If I weren’t afraid, I would stop worrying about what others might think and truly be myself.
Kelly S says
Thank you for your thought provoking post today – it spoke to my heart!
If I weren’t afraid, I would embrace letting go of the guilt that I carry and Let God carry me through – FULLY. I nearly lost my toddler daughter to a near fatal drowning when she was just 15 months old and it haunts me still to this day, though with God’s grace and mercy we have moved on to 10 years later. I want to embrace this gift of Life and live it to the fullest without the fear of the unknown, the what ifs, the terror being making the RIGHT decision and just allow myself to let Him be that guide! I would so cherish the opportunity to read this book and help learn how to do that.
*Blessings to all*
If I weren’t afraid I would be MORE….more outgoing, more loving, more giving, more trusting, more open to life.
If I weren’t afraid…I would go to school to be a biblical counselor.
If I weren’t afraid I would chase down the man I am in love with and tell him so, even if it hurt and it didn’t end well. At least I tried. And actually, I’m not too scared to do that. So someday, I will. 😉
Jennie Allen says
Oh I am in! Tell us what happens!
really be living. I want to share this quote that I read on My Utmost to His Highest, Oswald Chambers devotional site. “Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something you have never been.” That sentence has been lurking in my thoughts since I read it last week so I am working on a post in response to it and hope to have it up on my blog tonight. Your post is very powerful!
Sarah Noll says
If I weren’t afraid I would let down my guard and let ALL people into my life and not worry that their “baggage” might drag me down. I know there are so many blessing in store for me when I learn to open up more.
If I weren’t afraid I would pick up my pencils, pens and paintbrushes and make art.
Jennifer Bias says
If I weren’t afraid, I would write. I would teach women. I would laugh and play with my children. I would dance and sing and not care how others may judge me. If I weren’t afraid I would let go of trying to be who I “should” be, and just be who I am. If I weren’t afraid I would stop living in default mode, and start living fully for God.
If I were not afraid I would…write a Bible study for kids, act without wondering what other people would think, and slow down! Great post…thank you for speaking such truth today.
Diane rice says
….I would quit working full time and be a work at home full time mom.
My life looks nothing like my scrapbook. We had two children and were through. Plans of being young with an empty nest. We now have 5. Ages 25, 23, 21, 11 and 2. Our plans were not His!
Jennie Allen says
Wow! God bless you girl!
If I weren’t afraid, I would swim in the ocean. If I weren’t afraid, I would tell my dad I love him.
If I weren’t afraid, I would relax and Let Go and Let God!!! I wouldn’t worry so much about what others think and allow myself to be the person God wants me to be, not what I want to be, and what I think others want me to be.
If I weren’t afraid, I would trust God a whole lot more and read His Word, and look deep into my heart and see what my problem/s is/are.
If I weren’t afraid, I would stop worrying about my health problems and be proactive in doing all I could to keep myself fit in mind, body and spirit.
If I weren’t afraid, I would just be ME!!!
The only part of my scrapbook that has actually come true is my career… and even that doesn’t look, pay, happen or require anything like I thought it would.
If I weren’t afraid I would be open and vulnerable, laying down my expectations of others and simply love them.
amber french says
if i weren’t afraid, i would love freely. i wouldn’t worry about what others think of me or when the right guy will notice me but would just pour into every relationship i have, not expecting anything in return.
Deb Kennedy says
If I weren’t afraid, I would stop worrying about ‘getting a job’ and making money, to save and use to rebuild my damaged life. If I weren’t afraid, I’d be writing constantly and seeing the opportunities God is bringing to me to sell my articles and features to publications. If I weren’t afraid, I’d see that He is my provider, my Source, my ‘boss’…. not someone who owns a magazine.
If I weren’t afraid I would try and build relationships with those around me. People scare me to much. I’ve gotten better, but it’s still super hard and most time I just avoid people.
When Impossible becomes Anything | Deirdre Hopkins says
[…] post was written by Jennie Allen, the author of the book, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and […]
If I weren’t afraid, I would write all day, every day, and not be able to stop. (Doggone that internal censor!) I will say, however, that last year I was forced to throw out my proverbial life scrapbook and I have never been happier…never been more filled with the Spirit…never been so convinced that I am on God’s path. Thank you for illustrating this point in such a visual way.
Laura R. says
If I weren’t afraid I would be a writer and public speaker!
Jennie Allen says
It is scary. 🙂 I agree.
Melody Ann says
If I weren’t afraid, I would take steps to write & share it with others; to speak what I deeply think to those close to me as encouragement.
Thank you for the opportunity to win this book.
If I weren’t afraid I would…
go back to school and finish my degree!
If I wasn’t afraid, I would…
…Stop letting the choices of my past weigh me down and make me feel like a failure
…Give myself permission to embrace the amazing way God has used personal chaos to steer my heart – without going back to feeling like a failure
…Not freak out about being unsure of what my “purpose” is — but simply let Him love me and see where my daily reciprocated love for Him will lead me
…Relax. Be calm. Be still. Breathe. Be at peace.
If I weren’t afraid, I would give myself over to God 100%.
If I weren’t afraid i would simply let go and be me
Melody Joy says
If I weren’t afraid, I would….
Talk to people vibrantly without always being held back and down because I’m wondering if I’m talking too fast, too loud, or too much,
Speak of Christ to the girls in my youth group and open my mouth to share His Word,
Laugh more and cry less, use nail polish more frequently and go on guilt trips because of my failures less often
Nicole @Team Pipkin says
If I weren’t afraid I would get out of my comfort zone (leave the house) and make friends. I tend to see myself as an “acquaintance” to the friends I have since they already have their close knit friends already.
Laura M. says
Wow! I would read this post as I’m sitting here thinking about my scrapbook and throwing myself a pity party because my life has went a different direction. Thank you for sharing. Your words brought loving conviction to my heart.
Beth Williams says
Loved this post! I especially loved the scrapbook analogy. My life has taken so many twists and turns from where I thought I’d be. Parts of my scrapbook are better than imagined & parts, especially the work, are worse.
If I weren’t afraid I would trust God more, worry less & learn to play guitar.
I read this is the perfect moment meant for my heart only. I have been struggling relentlessly recently, and this has brought it to light a little more. If I weren’t afraid I would: Put down my busy work, my art, my crafts and begin to dig deep into the Word of God to see just what it is He has to say to me. Wow. I didn’t realize until just this minute that all I am “trying” to do is my excuse for getting closer to the Lord.
Jennie Allen says
I love this…
I would fly without trembling, wouldn’t second guess, and would just start up that writing endeavor without wondering if I’m doing it the “right way”
Beautiful analogy. As a scrapbooker and recovering control freak, this really spoke to me. If I weren’t afraid I would…simplify my life, focusing more on what God has for me and my family than what I think I want for us.
Melinda McCray says
I would pursue the book idea that keeps circling the drain of my heart. I would make new friends in my new church. I wouldn’t allow rejection and failure to prevent ministering again.
Janis@Open My Ears Lord says
If I weren’t afraid, I would have blossomed so much more~here where God had destined me to live.
If I weren’t afraid, I’d have a better life than I do now.
If I weren’t afraid, I’d put our house on the market and start looking for that farm we want to buy to make ourselves more self-sufficient.
If I weren’t afraid, I would relent and release.
If I weren’t afraid, I’d go ahead and do that first craft show that I keep saying I want to do. If I weren’t afraid, I’d do so much more!
If I was not afraid, I would trust in God’s plan for our foster children.
As the leader in the house while they have been here, I have not been able to enjoy them fully for what God sees.
I have attended to so many burning fires as they occurred and not always felt the freedom to enjoy the small successes.
My self expectations have been too high for this our first placement.
I am afraid to think that I heard Him speaking clearly telling me to say “Yes!” when asked if we would accept this family. What does God see in my abilities that I do not believe for myself?
If I weren’t afraid I would let go of past heartbreaks and allow myself to let people into my life.
I hear you!
If I weren’t afraid I would worry less.
If I weren’t afraid…I would be more ok about praying for my dreams for my life to be the same as God’s…that is a scary concept, isn’t it? Giving God our entire future…hopes, dreams, etc. I know He created us and we can trust Him with our hearts, but my past heartbreaks seem to be winning out lately…
I have to say I’m a little troubled that adoption and overseas missions was listed on the list of things that would cause someone’s heart to be broken, among cancer, financial hardship and a difficult husband. There are some things that would certainly be hard to deal with, when tossed our way, but adoption and missions should be a decision that starts as a tiny seed of hope in the heart and blossoms into something beautiful.
My husband and I have adopted two beautiful children out of the foster care and we have also been missionaries (though not overseas, we moved cross country away from family). I don’t doubt that both of those things can be scary (and still continue to be!) but so can pregnancy – or any change that happens in our life that we aren’t sure we are ready for. Much different than a difficult husband or death… I find it so strange that people are so often thinking of missions and adopted children as second best (to birthing our own children or getting high-paying “respectable” jobs) when I have found them to bring us the greatest joy.
Jennie Allen says
Thank you so much for being uncomfortable with that. We have adopted as well, and by choice- we have three bio kids. I love adoption. I didn’t mean it as a good list/bad list- just a list of expectations… singleness, apartments, missons, adoption… all not bad. 🙂 But thank you for being sensitive to this!!
If I weren’t afraid I would quit my job to start a soup kitchen
If I weren’t afraid, I would not be so nervous to submit job applications for the fall. I have been a SAHM for the past 3 and 1/2 years, and although I know I’m no less smarter than before, that voice of insecurity keeps rearing its ugly head.
Marilyn L says
If I were not afraid, I would rely entirely on Him to meet my needs. I worry sometimes about making ends meet and when I do, I know it is fear not faith. I pray I can let go of the fear and replace it with faith.
Linda Robison says
Oh my, I’m fearFULL of pretty much everything. Mostly afraid to love, or to trust or get close for fear that I’ll lose it, be hurt, betrayed, or they will die. I’m afraid of what God will “let” happen since believing in Him doesn’t mean I won’t suffer.
I’m missing a full life, experiencing all the adventures, and people that are out there waiting – instead I try to control my surroundings in a tight safe little circle. I can’t find my way out.
If I weren’t afraid I’d let people love me and not allow them to steal ny joy by walking away from them when things don’t go as I had anticipated. I would not isolate myself in an effort to protect myself from hurt feelings. I need to work on loving myself before thinking others will love me. I do strongly believe God puts us where we need to be to be in order to accomplish his plan for us.
… I would totally trust in God’s plan for me.
If I weren’t afraid, I might actually begin to believe again.
Mama De Tres says
If I weren’t afraid, I would live to the potential that God has already placed within me by His Holy Spirit.
I would invite people over for play dates so my kids and I could make friends, or a couple over for dinner
Wow! Very thought provoking for me. If I weren’t afraid, I would see a life totally surrendered to God’s will and purpose for my life; I would slow down and enjoy each day fully; I would be the kind of wife my husband needs; I would be the kind of mother my adult children need; and I would be the grandmother my grandkids need me to be.
if i wasn’t afraid i would be more bold in talking about my faith and god to others and allow him to talk through me and not try to find the words myself.
If I weren’t afraid, I’d be more outgoing and put myself out there more….more friendships, probably more opportunities in ministry, a missions trip, etc.
If I weren’t afraid, I would trust and love so much more.
If I weren’t afraid, I would buy a new, 3- or 4- bedroom, two- or three- car garage, ranch-style home. with no maintenance, and an ocean view.
Sara S. says
IF I weren’t afraid… I would study medicine.
If I weren’t afraid….. I would pursue my dreams….
If I weren’t afraid I would . . .
-I would give all my fears 100% over to Jesus
-I would stop worrying about losing our home
-I would find a new church home without my husband because after losing our business his new job demands that he work on Sunday’s now.
-I would start a food pantry because I know what it’s like to know where food will come from when you lose everything.
-I would give God the broken heart from losing James – a boy in my sons band that lived with us 3 days a week.
-I would start the new organization business with confidence knowing that I can do all things through Christ that strengthen me!
Simply Living By Faith,
Southern Gal says
If I weren’t afraid I would let God have complete control and stop trying to take it from Him.
If I weren’t afraid I would admit to myself what God wants me to do, embrace it and do it.
If I weren’t afraid I would…..I couldn’t come up with anything. Maybe if I weren’t afraid I would make a decision. 🙁
If I were not afraid I would allow the Holy Spirit to work through me even when it gets uncomfortable.
Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions says
I wasn’t going to do things that threatened the picture of the life I thought I was supposed to have until it occurred to me that perhaps I am missing the very best parts and perhaps I care more about this short life than the one that will last forever.
= my heart <3
If I weren’t afraid… I wouldn’t have taken so long to post a comment.
I would – Just Live – and not think so much about each and every decision.
If I weren’t afraid, I could trust my husband with our future and live a life of JOY instead of worry.
If I weren’t afraid
I would praise and proclaim Him unabashedly. With my hands held high.
Lindsey van Niekerk says
If I weren\’t afraid, I would not second guess my plans, dreams, and desires.
Helen G. says
If I weren’t afraid, I would accomplish more, dream more, and sleep more 🙂
If I weren’t afraid, I would play with my kids, REALLY PLAY with my kids, and not look at the time. I would get lost in play with them, and not think about schedules and nap times. And not think about the to-do lists, and the laundry and the dishes and the other things that I could be accomplishing. I am embarrassed to write this, but it is honest.
Melinda T says
If I weren’t afraid, I would be bolder and do more of what makes me happy and stress-free. I’d be confident and go after my dreams.
If I were not afraid I would rest in God in a new way. I would really be trusting. I would be free to be who He created me to be.
If I were not afraid I would stop worrying…
Jessica Mumford says
If I weren’t afraid, I would move to Africa.
Diane Bailey says
Write more books, travel to more places, and try our to be on staff at (in)courage
If I were not afraid, I would enjoy this life that God has planned for me and I would quit living with anxiety and worry!
My scrapbook is already “messed up” by God, but I have some pages I’m clinging to. If I weren’t afraid, I’d give him the rest; I’d pray the “anything” prayer…and mean it.
If I were not afraid, I’d talk to God about how I felt let down by Him during some very difficult times a couple years ago. If I weren’t afraid, I’d slow down long enough to really pray and be vulnerable again.
If I weren’t afraid, I would retire from my high stress job and explore something more rewarding.