October 28, 2011

When Faith Meets Fear

Where do you get your security?

Less than a week ago, I babysat for 7 hours and started getting this uncomfortable feeling that I was wasting my time.

I've been babysitting/nannying pretty regularly since moving home in June, and it's been steady work: great kids, predictable income, and a big improvement over minimum wage. I felt like it was a step in the right direction of becoming self-supporting.

Then, early this week, the Holy Spirit's sharp elbows started to get in the way.

I made a chart, documenting where my time went each week. When I first started working, babysitting seemed like a small time investment with a big payoff. But when I finished the chart, I realized how little time I've actually spent writing this month. Those babysitting hours were coming directly out of my writing time.

That led to a series of small spiritual crises. In my neat, tidy little life plan, working as a babysitter/nanny would smoothly give way to a paying job as an editor, freelance writer, or ideally, Great American Novelist. However, I'm realizing that you don't become Paid Writer until you actually write. You can't write without time. And if your time is going to changing diapers and channel surfing through episodes of Dora the Explorer, you're not even moving in the direction of Paid Writer.

However, beginning writers are not on anyone's payroll. This week I was confronted with a crossroads between keeping my steady, predictable paycheck and moving in God's direction for my life. In essence, it came down to the question, "Where do you get your security?"

File:Crossroad in winter 2.jpg

Funny enough, I found that God has a word or two to say about security this week. Isaiah 31:1:

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, 
who rely on horses, 
who trust in the multitudes of their chariots 
and in the great strength of their horsemen, 
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel 
or seek help from the Lord." 


Choosing to ignore the uncomfortable feeling and continue babysitting would be relying on chariots and horses. "If I have an income," goes the thinking, "I have independence, I have control over my future, and I'm secure." Funny thinking, because anyone who's lived through this recession would laugh at that line. Like a pipe dreamer, however, I was living by it.

Choosing to quit babysitting would mean going out on a limb for God, to follow the purpose for which He's uniquely designed me. I don't know how long it will take me to earn money by writing; I don't even know if I'll make it (financially) as a writer. I do know that I certainly won't if I don't take time to write. I also know that a part of me suffocates if I ignore the thing I was made to do.

I was scared. Scared to give up the known, however mediocre, for the unknown, however glorious. Even the illusion of control dies hard.

A Longfellow line I read this week helped give me clarity:

"Our faith triumphant o'er our fears."

The breakthrough was realizing that you're not a failure at faith if fear still gives you stomachaches. It's good news, because the two were wrestling fiercely in me, like the famous Gollum and Smeagol in The Lord of the Rings. Paralyzed at this crossroads, I begged God to give me courage to overcome my slimy, wheedling, comfort-loving but surprisingly strong inner coward and do the right thing.

He did.

Today I gave my employer one month's notice. As of the end of November, I will be working only at pursuits that relate to writing: revising my novel, submitting articles to magazines, freelance editing, and tutoring English. I came home grinning and feeling like the Incredible Hulk.

Faith is the hard choice. But it brings a rushing sense of purpose. Today, my security comes from the One who called me to write, and He is faithful.

So how about you? Where do you get your security? I'd love to hear your story!


  1. I'm glad to hear that you were able to make that tough decision. From an outside perspective, you have chosen to pursue a big dream (and potential larger paycheck) rather than rely on a paycheck that would never change. Leaving the job is like acknowledging that you are a writer, not a nanny.
    I'd just like to caution you that now that you will have more time to write, it is ok to still have days off. A day off to do nothing can sometimes give you a weeks worth of energy and inspiration rather than spending a week doing a day's worth of work. (And in my case, I take a week off for every three week's worth of work) Once you find your rhythm, you'll be a force to reckon with.

  2. Your pictures are remarkably symbolic--metaphors without words!!! Thank you for the reminder to consider and REconsider this essential question: "Where do you get your security?" I'm sure it is not the first time you have faced this question, and, God willing, you will face it again, each time from a bit of a different perspective. It is good to be reminded of what is most important, so that we never, never forget...

  3. Audry: Thank you for your encouragement and sage advice. I realized this week that at every crossroads you have two choices: obey God and grow closer to Him, or ignore the call and grow farther apart from Him. Still, it's a struggle every time. I know that you've been there before, and it's good to hear your words from someone a few steps ahead on the road.

    Paty/Mom: It is definitely not the first time I have wrestled with this question, and I can almost certainly say it will not be the last. I was realizing the "security" and "trust" labels on this blog include most of my posts! I'm glad you like the pictures, too--I have to admit, the Gollum one is my favorite...