Fear or Love?

Over the past few months, I have become an NPR addict. I used to listen from time to time, or peruse their website, but I wasn't an avid listener. For some reason, this past January, I made NPR one of the presets on my XM radio, and I very rarely change it now. Except for when my sister gets in the car and, before I can even turn the key, begs, "Can we pleeeeease not listen to NPR?!" I'm one of those people who starts every other conversation with, "You know, I was listening to NPR the other day..." and I love hour-long drives that begin on the hour, so I can catch a full show. And much like my friend Sarah, I will sit in my car outside of my destination to listen to the end of a program (or, if I'm able, I'll run inside and pull up the online XM player on my laptop). It's okay, I know I'm a nerd.

Anyway, today, I was driving to my clinical site, listening to Tell Me More, and Melissa Etheridge came on. Now, I like Melissa enough. I can sing along to a bunch of her songs when they come on the radio, and I think she's a great musician, but I've never waited in line outside of Best Buy to pick up her latest album. But this morning, I heard her say something that has been running through my head all day. In talking about her new album, Fearless Love, she said that along her journey, including a battle with breast cancer a few years ago, she has learned that "every choice we make is either love or fear, in anything, everything we do."

Love or fear. Everything we do is either love or fear.

At the exact moment I was listening to this interview, I was feeling incredibly exhausted, both mentally and physically, and reluctant to get out of the car once I got to my clinical site. But then I started thinking...if I sat in the car, I would be making the decision out of fear. Fear of initiating conversations with people I don't know, fear of saying the wrong thing or not taking advantage of the moment in a conversation, fear of failing. But if I got out of the car, I would be making the decision out of love. A love for every person inside of that facility, a love for hearing their stories, a love for ministry.

Recently, in a conversation about goals, a friend said that she never says she "will" do something, but rather that she "intends" to do something. When she says, "I will," she rarely actually does. But intentions run much deeper. It connotes an internal motivation to achieve something. For this friend, using such language helps her accomplish her goals more often. So, taking a cue from her, I intend to live and act out of love, rather than fear.

This sounds awfully nebulous, I know. Sometimes love means holding back, or it can mean saying or doing something difficult. And that can often look like fear. I know that this summer, which will continue to be filled with exhaustion, pain, emptiness, and most of all, learning, it will be difficult to push away that fear and instead choose to act out of love. But I can't help but think what a rich and joyful season this could be, should I make that conscious decision. So I will ask those with whom I spend the most time to check in on me and make sure I am not reverting to fear.

And I intend to love deeply, honestly, and often.