“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”- Susan Jeffers
I’m in the middle of a crisis as I write this. I was so tense a while ago I couldn’t eat. This feeling is so familiar. I want to quit, I just want to sit in a corner alone, with my eyes closed. I had a chat with my mom a while ago and what she shared threw me off balance. I didn’t anticipate any disruptions today. I had my day planned out, avoided some conversations to stay focused on what’s coming ahead. It’s big, delicate and meaningful to me. My old self is inviting me to use the current crisis as an escape to avoid my current assignment.
It’s a group life coaching experience for survivors of sexual trauma. I’ve always wanted to do this, but I was afraid. I prefer talking about other things like memes, self-development and business but not host a group of survivors of sexual trauma. The thought of that makes me weak; what will I tell them? Will I honor their stories? Is my heart soft enough to care for them? Will they know that I care? Will they know that I believe them? Will they see that it’s possible to rise above sexual trauma and thrive or will I appear as though I’m showing off?
There are better people to serve such delicate souls, right? They’ve qualified well academically, they have experience, have succeeded in guiding other wounded souls to recovery, have been coached and mentored with the great minds of our generation…but me? Who am I? What do I have? Sigh. See why it’s a struggle? I have nothing.
I visited the Nairobi Snake park, based at the National Museum of Kenya in December 2021, I went there with two of my friends. Snakes fascinate me. I love reading about them and sometimes, I randomly go snake hunting lol. Would I pet a snake? I’m not sure, but I don’t mind studying them, you know how the Bible says that we should be wise as serpents? Yes, that’s where my motivation comes from (pardon me if this makes you feel uncomfortable).
We psyched ourselves to hold one of the snakes. After watching the snakes catching their evening meal, the snake attendant brought out a young python that looked like it was 1 meter long. He brought it out for us to hold and take photos with it. I wanted to hold it, but OCD checked in and I began overthinking about how my skin would get an infection from the bacteria on the snake’s skin and never get healed. I have sensitive skin, so I was careful.
My friend wanted to hold it but she was afraid, I wasn’t. I decided to hold it, so that she may gain courage. I convinced myself that I’ll take a proper shower when I get home and I’ll allow the Snake to move around my scarf to avoid skin contact.
But trust issues checked in and I wondered what if the snake is not in a good mood? What’s the worst that can happen? I observed the snake attendant holding the snake gently, and wasn’t harmed. Other guests held it too, took photos and they weren’t harmed. That gave me courage, but first I wanted to know the texture of its skin, to prepare myself psychologically. I moved forward, touched it, and it felt rough but slippery. I didn’t expect that, so I asked the attendant to let me hold it.
I held it where it’s heart was, to support it well, and to make it calm, then, he put it around my neck, yoh! It’s movement on my body felt like a massage. I held it gently, I didn’t want it to fall, it kept sticking out its tongue all over me like a hungry baby, seeking to suckle. I stayed calm, watched and felt it move around me. That thrilled me. It felt refreshing. I want to do that again!
Have I always loved snakes? Not at all. I actually feared snakes growing up. But when I learnt that they’re shy and I’m not snake food, I began learning more about them. My adventurous spirit inspires me to learn how to live with snakes, in case I find myself in their habitat. Watching the snake attendant hold the snake and not get harmed gave me courage to hold the snake. I was a bit terrified because snakes are unpredictable, but I still held it anyway.
That experience gave me courage to check other areas in my life where I am afraid of taking risks. I dread failing. I dread losses.
I grew up avoiding mistakes, and I didn’t know that losses are to be grieved, no matter how small we assume they are. This kept me from welcoming opportunities into my life, I was afraid of losing and failing, so I would tell myself that I am not ready and end up sabotaging my growth.
But that narrative changed after the snake experience. Here’s what gave me confidence:
- I knew that the snake was harmless.
- The attendant was there to assist.
- Other guests had held it too and nothing happened to them.
- I am not attacking it.
- The snake wasn’t hungry.
When planning to advertise my life coaching services, I reminded myself that:
- The LORD has sent me and will be with me.
- I am a sexual trauma victor.
- I am trained as a mental health coach.
- I have empowered others before.
- Other people began from where I am now.
- I care, I listen and want the best for others.
- I have a coach.
- I have the support and resources needed for me to serve.
This gave me peace and the voice of fear was silenced.
God has favored us with resources to face fear, which are: love, power, and a sound mind( 2 Timothy 1:7). Next time you feel like you’re losing your mind, remind yourself that you’re not crazy, you’re just hurting and facing a challenging season, and it’s not the end of your life, you can be in it and still choose faith to rise above it.
What healthy risks are you avoiding? Why? Remember, you have what it takes to just start. You won’t know how the experience will be unless you take it. If it’s something that will honor God, bring you peace and joy, and serve humanity, feel your fear and do it anyway. See, we keep ourselves from living an abundant life when we choose to be defined by fear and ignore God’s promises. God’s promises are ours to claim, they are true and have life in them.
I want to hear your story of victory. I’ll leave you with this quote, “It is in the water, not on the land, that men learn to swim,” – Ellen White. None of us can master what we don’t practice. Will you take a dive with me? Choose faith over fear.
Faith is a Children’s Content Creator at Learn & Grow enterprises, Storyteller and Mental Health Advocate. She tells her story to offer hope, help and healing to survivors of sexual trauma.