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Fight fear with bon courage

Seven students are currently studying in France with ORU's study abroad program.
Seven students are currently studying in France with ORU’s study abroad program.

I was raised deep in the country of North Texas, but turned down rodeo life for libraries. Traveling the world became my greatest dream. I would pore over travel magazines and pretend to be everywhere but home. Then God called me to ORU, and I wasn’t sure what to do with my life. I still wanted to travel, and I knew books and words would be in there somewhere. Business school was a good fit for a while, but I knew it wasn’t where I was supposed to stay. Writing was pulling at my heart, even as logic pulled back.

Everything in my life has seemed like a series of trust falls, some little and some life-changing. Like ORU, coming to France was a jump into the dark. I wasn’t sure where it would lead or how it would work out, but I knew two things: I had peace when I asked Father God about it, and I wanted to travel. It was a gut decision.

Traveling abroad is not as glamorous as it looks in pictures, friends. There are moments when I want to give up. I miss my friends, my dog, and my French accent is pretty terrible. School used to be my safe place. My life could be careening but my GPA would stay steady. Now, the security blanket wrapped around my identity has been ripped off. It’s painful, and it’s necessary. I’ve grappled with perfectionism and people-pleasing just as much as I have with conjugating verbs and those darn silent consonants.

Fear tends to sneak in at the most inconvenient times. We believe that the next thing planned will make us whole. Whether that’s studying in Paris, France, or graduating from college, our plans aren’t our fulfillment. In fact, God’s plan usually looks a little, or a lot, different than ours. This trip has been unlike anything I ever expected, and yet it’s exactly what my soul needs.

Some days, I wake up certain that I’m here for a purpose and other days I cry into a baguette. But the truth according to Jeremiah 29 is that God has good plans for us. We choose whether or not we will view those plans with fear or trust.

Pastor Nicolas here at Martin Luther King Church made an outstanding remark recently. He said, “Fear should be used as a tool, like a hammer that you pull out when necessary. But you don’t eat with a hammer.”

Fear can be healthy, but it shouldn’t be at the dinner table with us. Life, like learning French, is a process. It’s going to take longer than four weeks to fluently converse with locals. It’s going to take longer than four months, to be honest!

It’s going to take more than a few days of prayer for that promise to come to pass, and more faith today than it did yesterday. Persistently, we trust. Steadfastly, we believe. So what if I don’t speak fluent French yet? And you don’t see the fulfillment yet?

It’s time to learn to trust. Trust that the bit we do every day works—that our prayers and our alone time with the Father aren’t just obligatory. It’s for a purpose, and that purpose is not to get closer to the promise, but to the Promise-Maker.
Eating pain au chocolates for you! Bon courage from Paris!