By my calculation, I spent about fifty-eight percent of my life being a coward. Yes, I calculated it. I spent thirty-eight percent of my life being neither cowardly nor courageous, just sort of neutral and drifting. And I’ve spent the most recent four percent of my life being courageous.
I still can’t believe how much time I wasted because of cowardice and lack of passion. Ninety-six percent of my life! Yet, I know how it happened – I got mired in it because of my people-pleasing ways, and because of fear and emotional laziness.
It started when I was a teenager and decided to put aside my dreams and ignore the yearnings of my heart in order to conform to what others expected of me because I wanted to please them and because I was too emotionally lazy to be passionate about what I wanted. I wanted to travel the world and live in other places but my society wanted me to settle down in a good corporate job and work hard to rise through the ranks. So I did that. I went to university and got a “good” degree then I settled into corporate life, got an even better degree and settled in some more while I made great progress. I did it. I met all of the expectations and pleased others with my accomplishments while I silenced the part of me that was crying out that there was something else out there for me. That was the voice of God and I didn’t know it.
Eventually, I stepped things up. I got myself into a relationship that I knew was all wrong for me then didn’t know how to get out because I was fearful of what I would do without this relationship, and because I was afraid to be a “bad person” and end it. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t unhappy, but after a while I also wasn’t happy. For a couple of years, I went to church every Sunday and cried real tears out of my eyes because God was convicting me that how I was living was all wrong. But I was too cowardly to remove myself so I stayed in it for far too long until God, in His mercy, delivered me from it.
Sure, I had pockets of courage along the way but they are insignificant when I think about that fifty-eight percent of coward time.
Thankfully, it was God’s deliverance of me from that relationship, from the corporate life, from everything that was binding me up, that broke me out of the bondage of cowardice and so many other bondages. It was because of that deliverance that I finally started to be courageous, to go and be and do – to go where God calls me to go (out into the world, far away from the beaten, trodden down, tired old paths), to be who God wants me to be (a work in progress still), and to do what He calls me to do (to serve others).
Hopefully, my people-pleasing ways are behind me forever, and I’ve ditched the emotional laziness for passion and a bit of risk-taking. There are many times when I’m fearful still, but then I think about that wasted fifty-eight percent and I power through the fear and do it anyway. There are times when I don’t even think I’m being courageous, I’m just being resolute that I will not add another minute to that wasted fifty-eight percent.
Thank God I have a chance to increase my four percent. God’s willing, my acts of courage going forward and my new passion for life will far outweigh that wasted ninety-six percent, if not in terms of time then at least in terms of impact.
To God be the glory, great things He has done.