[Finding My Voice is a series of blog posts on key decisions I made in my 20s.]
Defining decision: as much as possible, choose love over fear
“There are only two motives,
two procedures, two frameworks,
Love and fear.” (Michael Leunig)
At one point in my mid twenties, I realized that fear played a huge part of my life. It showed up in various ways including anxiety, people pleasing and outright fear of certain things or situations. I saw that it limited my experiences and enjoyment of life and I wanted to be free of fear’s control.
About a year ago, I read a book called “Inner Compass” by Margaret Silf. In it, she suggested asking this question when discerning about a choice: “Do you feel you made [or make] your decisions out of fear of losing something, in the hope of gaining something, or quite freely?” I found her question quite useful in helping me figure out my motivation for making a choice.
The alternative to choosing out of fear is choosing out of love. To me, it could also look like choosing from a place of faith.
An example of how this decision has played out in my life is in the area of driving. Last year, I was in 2 car accidents in a span of 4 months. It left me feeling shaken and I wanted never to drive again. But as I thought about it, I realized that vowing never to sit behind a steering wheel would be letting fear get the upper hand and make my decisions for me. So I chose the way of faith, which was trusting in God’s love and protection over me. And I slowly began to drive again.
Another example could be in my relationship with my neighbour. Fear would tempt me to take the easy, passive route and not initiate contact with her or seek to know her better – after all, she might think I’m being nosy, or she might reject me. But love prompts me to pick up the phone and see how she’s doing; to take a risk and extend a gesture of friendship.
Since I want to become a person who is characterized more and more by love and faith and less and less by fear, I made a decision to choose out of love as much as possible and not let fear have the last say. This has become a guiding principle for me in the choices I make and it gives me confidence knowing that even if things do not turn out the way I hope or expect them to, at least I will not have any regrets.