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Brecken’s Breakdown

By Brecken Mumford | Echo

Have you ever had to make a difficult decision and sought the advice of someone else — or maybe even multiple people? Have you ever already known the choice you wanted to make but felt like you had to seek out validation for that particular decision? And even though you get validation, have you ever felt, deep down, that it was still the wrong decision?

I’ve been there . . . a few times. And I’m sure at least some of you have experienced that, too. (At least I hope you have, otherwise this article may be useless space in the paper.)

In those scenarios, I went to people I knew would echo or even encourage the decision I wanted. I would weave my words and use inflection to cater to the answer that was in the front of my mind. But, deep down inside, what I really wanted was honesty. I wanted to be challenged; I wanted my friend to play devil’s advocate and exhaust every potential option with me. I wanted them to experience the confusion and the pingpong back-and-forth that I was already experiencing in my head.

But I didn’t communicate that. At all.

Why do I do that? Why don’t I tell my friends what’s going on inside my head? Why do I knowingly want to make the wrong decision and seek out validation for that decision? Why?

Those are a handful of questions I find myself asking, asking myself and asking others. I can’t guarantee an answer, but since I’ve been pondering them for way too long, I have an idea as to why.

We’re afraid.

Hear me out. Please? Here’s where I want you to really critically engage and think about this. This will be my personal experience, but, just humor me.

I’m realizing, more and more, how I let fear creep into my head. And I’ve realized when I have to make those really hard decisions — the ones where I know my shallow initial decision isn’t really the right one but seek out validation to make it anyway — I let fear take over. I try to justify making the wrong decisions because I’m afraid — afraid of the consequences of making my own decisions. I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t act on my initial thoughts. I’m afraid to be honest with myself. Why are we afraid to be honest?

I think it’s because, honestly, fear is this terrible and strange thing. It manifests in so many different ways; it takes things that are good, important and valuable and twists them into something very different. It takes our deepest desires and those small insecurities and magnifies them into crippling anxieties and hurt and pain. Fear consumes and controls us, but it also has this terrible ability to create a false sense of safety and security.

Fear can make us feel like we’re in control even when we’re not . . . and eventually, it starts to mess with our heads.

All too often I find myself stuck in this internal state where fear has seeped into every part of my mind and whispers not-so-sweet nothings in my ear. It throws me into a constant state of fight or flight, where anything could send me flailing or flying — it’s just a gamble of which one. And it makes me think that if I don’t choose that initial, waffley decision I will never find peace or security or any other thing I could want. It sends me panicking into a decision that I think will bring me what I want — that  it will satisfy. And that’s just not true.

Fighting against fear is just that — a fight. In my last “Breakdown” I talked about fighting to make time for the people and things you love in life — fighting to break the busyness. This is a different kind of fight. It’s a fight for peace of mind, a fight for processing, a fight for honesty.

This is a fight to be real and vulnerable with the deepest parts of yourself and to not let fear create a shallow imitation of those as you try to work toward your goals.

This is a fight that forces you to dig up pain and hurt and let the Lord transform it and direct it. A fight where you relinquish control every day, every hour, every minute — as often as you possibly have to in order to kill fear’s grip on your heart and head.

Maybe this sounds preachy, but you better believe I’m talking to myself. Every day. And you know what, maybe I am just talking to myself. That’s okay . . . but if someone on this campus, or online, reads this and finds something here . . . I hope it helps you keep fighting fear. Because fear has no place in the head or on the heart of a child of God — and that’s something I keep learning.

So, what do we do, when fear sneaks into our minds again, tempting us with a quick, but temporary decision? When it threatens our peace and pushes us into a frenzy?

We fight.

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