When I think back over the year and try to pinpoint the “defining moments” of my JVC experience, there are a few I consistently come back to (this day is a big one), but a conversation from our Re-Orientation retreat always comes to mind.
That day was one of the first times I was brutally honest about how I felt about my work with someone outside my community–my frustrations, how much these kids broke my heart, and my self-perceived inadequacies. It wasn’t easy, but I let myself open up and admit that I felt like I had no idea what I was doing 90% of the time and that work left me feeling broken and insufficient most days. I talked about being afraid and how crippling that often was.
In that moment, as I was struggling not to cry (and only halfway succeeding), a friend reminded me that, “Fear is not from God.” Somehow those simple words were exactly what I needed to hear. It was only after admitting how far in over my head I was that I realized I wasn’t alone in feeling lost while doing this work completely out of my comfort zone.
The darkest days of JVC, literally and metaphorically, followed that retreat. (This was written in the midst of that time.) January and February in particular are just a blur of dark, windy evenings when I remember almost running home from the T station to work off some frustration. Those words stuck with me throughout it all, and it was a constant mantra in my head during those dark days. Fear is not from God. Fear is not from God. Fear is not from God.
Slowly, I learned to quit letting fear control me and to take bumbling, awkward steps, although it was a rocky road. I embraced making mistakes, as per my 2012 motto, not just in work, but also in life and in relationships. I was still nowhere close to perfect, and After School still felt like a mess most days, but I learned to take joy in the little moments right in front of me. Things didn’t always turn out the way that I had hoped, but I know that I am better off for the chances that I took, rather than the times that I stayed away and kept my distance in a corner.
Now, seven months later, I have to admit that I am a little bit irrationally afraid again. I am afraid of losing the relationships that made this year so meaningful, of forgetting the ways that this year changed me, of settling back into my old comfort zone, and mostly, of taking these next steps into the unknown again.
And that is when I once again remind myself: Fear is not from God. Those are words I hope I continue to carry with me throughout all that comes next.