When my New Hampshire people found out that I was going to drive home to Texas alone, you’d have thought it was the end of the world. They were terrified.
One of their fears, I could understand. I’d just bought the car and had to have a new transmission put in before I could leave. I only had one day to test it before I left; I was a little concerned about car problems on the way. However, I didn’t have another choice. I had to get home.
I had a harder time understanding all their other fears. What if I got lost? What if I took a wrong turn? What if I got caught in bad weather? What if I ran out of gas? What if I got into an accident? What if I got sleepy while driving? What if I got attacked by some sort of predator — human or otherwise? What if SOMETHING happened to me?
(Whenever I heard this, I had to wonder: wouldn’t it be worse if absolutely nothing ever happens to me?)
I prepared for everything that I possibly could. I had warm clothing. I had a mattress, blankets, pillows, and quilts. I had an ice chest full of food, a couple of gallons of water, and I had a phone with navigation. I always refilled the tank when it got down to the halfway mark. I didn’t drive if I was sleepy. I have years of experience driving in bad weather, and know when to pull over and wait until it clears. Everything that was within my control, I had handled.
I don’t know what my friends in New Hampshire expected me to do about the things outside of my control, but boy, were they ever worried about them! I wasn’t. I’m a person of faith, so I prayed for safety and left it in God’s hands.
Here’s the thing. I could get into an accident two miles from my house. A criminal could break into my house. New Hampshire has bears, and Texas has rattlesnakes, wolves, and mountain lions. I could get struck by lightning, whirled up in a tornado, or have a tree fall on me. Anything could happen, no matter where you go.
If you let other people’s fears control your behavior, you’ll miss the chance to do what you want to do. Or you’ll get the chance but choose not to take it. That way lies regret.
So here’s what to do with their “what ifs.”
- Figure out if their fears are valid.
- If they’ re about money, work up a budget.
- If they’re about safety, figure out a safety plan.
- Listen to their fears, and use them as a basis for your own preparations.
- Prepare for the things that are within your control, but — here’s the hard part!
- Don’t sweat the things that are out of your control!
If you are a follower of Jesus, like I am, then pray about it and leave it in His hands. If you’re not, you can still have faith that things will work out. Sure, there are bad people everywhere you go. But there are also great people who are happy to help you if you get into a jam.
So, sure, listen to their fears — but don’t take them as your own. Use them for your own preparations, and then just let the fears go.
Don’t let other people’s “what ifs” keep you in your rut. If their comfort zone is smaller than yours, that’s their problem.
Go on, take that first step toward your next adventure. You know you want to!
Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” — Les Brown