How do you cope with fear of following your heart’s desires? When I wrote When God Says No to the Desires of Your Heart, I focused on the idea that God said “no” to your heart’s desires. Since then, I realized that we put more barriers to our own hopes, dreams and goals than God does! Even Christians who follow, trust and love Jesus tend to love more out of fear than faith.
Are you scared to follow the desires of your heart? The problem with this question is that fear blinds us. We often can’t see how we trip ourselves up — and when we finally realize we were living out of fear instead of faith, it’s too late. We can learn and move forward, of course…but we can never go back and change the fact that we were too scared to follow our heart’s desires.
I recently realized that I’ve been scared to follow my heart’s desires, and had to work through my regret and guilt. Twenty years ago I decided to go back to school. I already had a psychology degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and was ready to further my education. I knew I wanted to be a teacher or a preacher, but I was not sure which route to pursue. Actually…that’s a lie. The truth is that my heart’s desire was to get a Master of Divinity degree, but I was scared. I really wanted to go to seminary or Bible College and become a pastor.
My heart’s desire was to study the Bible — especially the Hebrew Scriptures — but I was scared of everything: the financial cost, people’s opinions, future job possibilities, my ability to be a pastor. So I went back to the U of A and got an Education degree. I chose to be a teacher instead of a preacher because it was cheaper, faster, and easier. Now that I’m in the Master of Divinity program at Regent College in Vancouver, I realize that my fear was holding me back from becoming who God created me to be and doing what He created me to do.
When You’re Scared to Follow Your Heart’s Desires
This blog post is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project; I’m writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture (and finally following the desires of my heart!). I started with Genesis — beginning with The Reason You Were Created – Genesis 1. Enter Exodus!
These tips for coping with fear of following the desires of our heart are inspired by Moses and the Israelites building the tabernacle in Exodus 35.
1. Listen to your heart’s desires
Exodus 35:20-22 says, “Then the entire Israelite community left Moses’s presence. Everyone whose heart was moved and whose spirit prompted him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its services, and for the holy garments. Both men and women came; all who had willing hearts brought brooches, earrings, rings, necklaces, and all kinds of gold jewelry—everyone who presented a presentation offering of gold to the Lord.” Moses had just given the Israelites a bunch of God’s commands. They went away to think about it; then, all whose hearts were moved and spirits were prompted returned with a gift offering of their own personal gold jewelry.
What is your heart telling you to share with the world? Maybe you’re like me; your heart’s desire is to study the Bible, spend hours in contemplative prayer, write books and articles and blog posts and review papers and theses about the Hebrew Scriptures and God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Maybe you’re like my husband, and your heart’s desire hasn’t bubbled to the surface yet. Maybe you’re like Bezalel, and your heart’s desire is to design buildings and teach artisans how to get even better at their craft. Are you scared to follow the desires of your heart? Then you’re normal, and even healthy. Will you let your fear of following your heart’s desires stop you from doing what God has called you to do?
2. Decide how to cope with your fear
“Everyone who possessed blue, purple, or scarlet yarn, fine linen or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or fine leather, brought them. Everyone making an offering of silver or bronze brought it as a contribution to the Lord. Everyone who possessed acacia wood useful for any task in the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun yarn with her hands and brought it: blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and fine linen. And all the women whose hearts were moved spun the goat hair by virtue of their skill. The leaders brought onyx and gemstones to mount on the ephod and breastpiece, as well as the spice and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. So the Israelites brought a freewill offering to the Lord, all the men and women whose hearts prompted them to bring something for all the work that the Lord, through Moses, had commanded to be done.” – Exodus 35:23-29. The Israelites gave their time and treasures to build God’s tabernacle. Were they scared to follow what their heart was nudging them to do? Probably. Did they follow their heart’s desires anyway? Yes!
Don’t let regret, fear, doubt or anxiety stop you from following your heart’s desires. The desire of my heart was to be a pastor, but I was scared, insecure, alone and unsupported. It didn’t occur to me to trust God and step forward in faith, to give Jesus my heart’s desires and let the Holy Spirit lead the way. I couldn’t see the proof God cared about me (because I wasn’t looking closely enough). Why would God bother to help me through school? And what difference would it make if I earned a Master of Divinity degree, anyway? I’ll never know because I was too scared to follow the desires of my heart.
3. Be teachable, willing to follow your heart’s desires in different ways
“Moses then said to the Israelites: “Look, the Lord has appointed by name Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.He has filled him with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every kind of craft to design artistic works in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut gemstones for mounting, and to carve wood for work in every kind of artistic craft. He has also given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others.” – Exodus 35:30-34. According to Rabbinic tradition, Bezalel was Moses’ sister Miriam’s grandson. Bezalel’s dad Hur would’ve called Moses and Aaron “Uncle Moses” and “Uncle Aaron.” God gave Bezalel the gift of teaching others to design beautify arts and crafts for the tabernacle’s furnishings and the priests’ holy robes and garments. God placed different heartfelt desires in the Israelites’ hearts, and they were willing to learn how to hone their skills.
Don’t walk away unchanged! Learn about your heart’s desires. A friend recently told me that he doesn’t trust the desires of his heart. He is suspicious of his own nature, his feelings and thoughts and inclinations. I glibly waved away his fears of following his heart’s desires, saying that he is just too cynical and untrusting of God. Now, upon reflection, I would’ve have been so cavalier. Instead, I would’ve asked what the desires of his heart were and why he is scared to follow them. Maybe his desires aren’t from God — and in fact, he may have said, “What if I’m scared to follow my heart’s desires because they aren’t from God?”
God has filled this earth with teachers, pastors, spiritual directors, counselors, community groups, church leaders, Christian podcasts, religious books, secular resources, neighbors, She Blossoms books and blogs, family members, friends, online Jesus forums — there are a million ways to learn more about overcoming fear of following your heart’s desires!
Don’t ignore the desires of your heart. Your fear will quench the Holy Spirit’s fire, and you’ll find yourself sitting on your rocking chair on the front porch at age 114, wondering why you let fear, doubt and insecurity lead the way. Instead, trust the Holy Spirit to move in your life. Talk to Jesus about your heart’s desires. Lay the burden of fear at the foot of the cross. And praise God for planting desires in your heart!
With His love,
P.S. Remember that we need you to blossom into who God created you to be.