Liz Frey is spending a year in Malaysia teaching English as a second language as a member of the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program. The program relies on coordinators who facilitate the young adults’ ministry and provide mentoring and spiritual guidance. To support a YAGM coordinator, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
I never thought of myself as brave. I have a very timid disposition, if you ask me. I do not like to face my fears; instead, I allow them to fester while I hide. I would wait for someone else to make a move. I would blame my inaction on others.
Fear or the opposite of bravery can be crippling and life changing. It hinders us in doing things that we want to do, that we should do, that we need to do. I can think of countless examples of times in my life that I allowed my fear to take control. My fear of being alone or unloved. My fear of losing a friend. My fear of being wrong. My fear of leaving home. The list goes on and on. I can pick out so many moments where my fear beat out the call of bravery.
Yet, a big change in me has been the development of bravery. I didn’t go to Oz to collect courage from the Wizard. Instead I came to Malaysia, and here is where I received bravery. I faced one of the biggest fears in my life – going out on my own. I couldn’t run home if things were difficult. I wanted to face this fear head on; I had allowed it to block other dreams and this wouldn’t happen again.
I was really scared from the onset and in some serious denial about leaving. I had morphed the whole summer before coming to Malaysia into playtime. I pretended I wasn’t leaving. I could feel the fear creeping into me, as the time at home got shorter. But I was committed, and I was determined to face my fears in the unknown.
And I would be lying if I said that I don’t feel fear coming every day. Every day brings something new to tackle, big or small. But every time I feel this fear, I remind myself of a great quote from a great book, “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman: “Because when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”
This is what I have learned about myself in the last eight months. I can be brave. In fact, I am brave. Fear is just part of life, but I can’t let it hold me back. As I round out the last few days of the semester at STS, I can’t help, but smile. I am so proud of myself and how far I have come. The next step is packing up this newfound bravery and bringing it home with me.