In my new book, Live Fearless, the chapter titled “Connect the Dots” was the hardest for me to write. However, as the chapter states, if I want to be free, strong, and happy, I can’t draw my way around any of the dots life throws at me. I have to put my life-pencil firmly on the paper and drag it through each and every dot.
Connect the Dots
Let me explain. Remember the game Connect the Dots? Some kids love that game, but, to me, it was the most boring, dreaded game of my childhood. It was not fun. It was confusing. My paper got messy. Many times I would just cheat and go around a few of the dots thinking they weren’t necessary. And every single time my picture looked like a whole bunch of nothing, no matter what angle I turned it. Praise the Lord, I grew up and that game became a thing of my past. I’m no longer forced to play it for fun or to keep me busy.
As I started writing my new book, Live Fearless, and thinking of my life-story, it hit me … my life is a giant game of Connect the Dots. (Just when I thought that game was out of my life.) I realized that God has laid out a picture with a purpose and a path to my destiny and He is allowing me to choose to step into it or walk away from it. Just like the game, some of my life-dots are easy to get to and fun to connect, but some seasons and places—the dreadful dots—have been tough to walk through. They have not been fun and have left me confused and my life a little messy. The easy way out would have been to cheat and go around those dreadful dots. But, I couldn’t. Real life doesn’t allow you to quit, cheat, or walk away. Life is going to keep moving, but you do have a choice. Here’s the difference between the dot game and real life. In the dot game, you are totally responsible for the outcome, but in real life, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have help available. Will you let God help lead you through the dots of life or will you try to do it alone?
How to Actually Live Fearless
Both choices have some things in common, but one very important difference. If you try to go it alone, you will have no idea where you’re going, and you’ll feel lost and confused. When you choose to follow God, you still will not know where you’re going, but you can trust that you will be led by peace, met with love, and no matter the twist and turns, your end result will be beautiful. You can confidently know that God will never lead you anywhere He is not going. That fact brings immeasurable peace and confidence to your life journey.
When I was writing Live Fearless, I realized a common denominator of my life story. Every time I tried to lead my life because of my own selfish ambitions, fear stepped in. Much of fear comes from the unknown, so when I tried to lead myself through unknown territory, fear was waiting for me. It’s no shocker that I have drawn a few wrong lines in my life, because of letting me lead myself. I’ve made some wrong turns and ended up in some interesting places. My brother John Luke says God has a big eraser. Boy, am I glad about that! God’s eraser is called grace and He loves to use it. Thank you, Jesus.
Fear and Relationships Do Not Go Together
I am often asked about my past relationships and my current love life. This one stumped me for a minute, because my past relationships are one of those dreadful dots that I wanted to go around. For a time, I was basing what I thought love was on something that was not true. I once heard a wise man say, “Fear is just false evidence appearing real.” In the past I had looked at false evidence as truth. As I got older, I began to see that the fear I was feeling about relationships had nothing to do with God’s plan for a loving relationship. So, how did I move forward? How did I trust someone else with my heart? It wasn’t easy. It’s not easy. I was actually terrified of moving forward and having my heart broken. But, one day in church, I was slain by the words of a song being sung so slowly and sweetly over and over again … there is no fear in love. I had cried a river of tears asking God to help me to not be afraid over this section of my life. This dreadful dot that has caused me so much hurt, bitterness, and fear. What if I get hurt again? How can I know? Through the words of that song, God spoke to me that fear and love do not go together.
I now know that my past relationship dots do not say anything of my future dots of love except to teach me more about God’s plan for loving relationships. Some of those relationship dots were hard to face and the process was long, but they led me to a deeper understanding and pursuit of what love means and what love is. They made me who I am today and show me glimpses of what lies ahead. I also believe each of them plays a part in making my story beautiful and creating the person I am today.
When Jacob first saw Rachel in Genesis 29, he wanted to sweep her off her feet and run into the sunset with his new love, yet that is not the story. He had many dots and a long and winding line to draw to get to her. With no idea the journey that was before him, Jacob’s love for Rachel kept him going. The first major dot he faced was being tricked into marrying Rachel’s sister, Leah. It was a line he didn’t want to draw, but he did because of love. I’m sure Jacob didn’t understand all the dots in his life, but he knew two things—he loved God and he loved Rachel. As his dots connected, a beautiful story was revealed. He married his love, Rachel, and had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel. One of those sons, Joseph, eventually, after many dots of his own, was put in charge of all of Egypt! Just think … if Jacob had not trusted God and his love for Rachel, the dots of Joseph’s life would never have been drawn. This illustrates so beautifully how God’s Dot to Dots will always be better than ours.
A friend asked me one time if I feel pressure having so many people look up to me. I said no. She wanted to know how I could put my whole life out there for others to see and not be afraid. It is only because the minute I allow God to use my failures I began to see the fullness of who He is. I had to come to the understanding that by being willing and unafraid to share the hard times of my life, I am showing other that in my weakness, God is made strong. If my failures bring Him glory, I will gladly make them known. So, I don’t fear those dreadful dots because I trust God is just in the creating process. There is no pressure once you stop wanting others to see only the beautiful you. When you let others see the beauty of God working in you, you no longer feel the pressure of maintaining it all yourself.
So, here is the thing, I have taken a few detours, and dragged out a few lines to get past some dots. As a result, I’ve had a few messy minutes. I was once filled with fear and let fear lead me. This made my picture even more messy. Once I turned my whole heart back to God, things began to change. The big picture began to show up and the dots began to connect. I put on a fearless posture and learned to let God lead and show His beauty. I know I still have many dots ahead of me, but I’m choosing to walk in beauty, led by peace, and will confidently walk forward. God is creating my story. It’s a story of strength, pursuit, and reckless love; an epic journey shaped by confidence, redemption, a life of freedom, and living fearless.
Keep Drawing Lines
If even one of the dots I have had to face was removed, I would not have ended up on the other side of fear. The dots that challenge us are the ones that shape us into who we’re meant to be. The lines they draw are the lines to freedom and strength to live our best life. Do not be ashamed of a single one and do not let one dot stop you. Keep going—keep drawing the lines—and you will be shocked at the beautiful picture God will create.