Welcome to my Friends and Fellowship Serenity Summer Soiree. Each week during the months of June, July, and August plan to enjoy meeting some of my favorite writing friends and fellowship around the goodness of the Lord. This week, we are encouraged by my sweet friend, Lois Flowers, in saying good-bye to what ifs and hello to possibilities!
It wasn’t long ago that the very idea of baking bread used to scare me. That seems odd, now that I think about it, but it’s the truth: I was afraid of yeast.
I don’t know why exactly. Probably because I had never used it, and I feared if I tried, my dough wouldn’t rise or I wouldn’t be able to knead it properly.
One day, I decided this was ridiculous. I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com that looked promising and followed it, step by step. The bread was delicious, but even better, my fear was gone.
Since then, I’ve learned to make many recipes I never would have attempted before—Japanese dumplings, pretzels, braided bread, macarons, butter chicken, even a cake roll. Once I replaced the fear of failure with the possibility that I might create something my whole family would love, I discovered a whole new world of enjoyment—right there in my kitchen.
good-bye What If
That’s not the whole story, however. I wasn’t alone in the kitchen as I made many of these recipes. My daughter Molly was with me, and, as it turns out, that made all the difference.
Molly recently graduated from high school after spending the last four years in our district’s Computer Science Academy. She’s logical, creative and—perhaps most importantly—unafraid to try and fail.
Apparently, that last trait is critical when it comes to computer programming. If you’re writing computer code, you don’t allow thoughts like what if this doesn’t work? to enter your head. You just keep trying until you figure out what does work.
When Molly attempts a project she’s never done before—make pretzels, for example, or flowers out of wire and fingernail polish—she doesn’t worry she won’t be able to do it. Instead, she watches tutorials and takes the project apart in her mind.
“It’s just like solving tons of little problems,” she told me.
I’m guessing most of us view problems—actual or potential, in any area of life—as negative. At the very least, we’d probably rather avoid them than embrace them.
Molly has shown me there’s a better way to live.
Problems are inevitable. Some will be solvable; others will not. But if we don’t try because we might encounter something difficult, we miss out on so much.
Rather than allow the fear of not being able to do something, the fear of a bad result, or even the fear of possible feelings to rule my heart, I’m learning to approach the future—along with its potential problems—with curiosity.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
A sound mind relies on a foundation of truth, but also remains open to growth and helpful change. We may have struggled with fear and worry in the past, perhaps even mightily. But as the Holy Spirit reorients our thought processes, we’ll eventually be able to sing—with full conviction—“I’m no longer a slave to fear.”
What happens when we imagine the future through the eyes of possibility, rather than allow the anxiety that accompanies uncertainty to color our vision?
What if my bread doesn’t rise? becomes I can’t wait to see how that’s going to taste.
What if they say no? becomes Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
What if it makes me sad? becomes I wonder how that is going to feel.
What if something bad happens? becomes God will hold me fast, come what may.
This shift in mindset isn’t a cure-all for worry or fear, nor does it happen overnight.
But it does remind us of our need for other people. It highlights the importance of asking for help. It gives us tiny bursts of courage to take chances and trust God for the outcome. It breaks generational strongholds and frees our kids from a heritage of fear. It even shows us that it’s OK dump an entire bowl full of ingredients in the trash and start over.
Because you never know. The next time we might hit upon yeasty perfection. Or at least a very tasty loaf of bread.
Lois Flowers is mom to two lovely daughters and wife to one good man. She’s an author, former journalist and lifelong Midwesterner who values authenticity, loves gardening and baking, and is forever trying to break her habit of always reading the end of the book first. You can connect with her on Instagram (loisflowers) or Twitter (@loisflowers16). She also blogs regularly at loisflowers.com, mostly about matters relating to life and faith.