I always wanted to be fearless. I remember the day. I was seventeen. I was in my creative writing class and my teacher came over and placed the essay I had written in front of me. I had worked hard on that essay. He smiled at me and slid the essay closer. I leaned in to read the comment he had written near the top.

Aliza, it said, you have the heart of a lion.

I sat there for a long moment, staring at the red cursive that inked the papers. And I was overcome by this longing deep inside of me - because that’s what I wanted. To be strong, and brave, and daring. To have the heart of a lion. To be fearless.

But I’m not.

I liked to pretend that I could pretty much conquer anything, willing my heart to transform from lamb to lion. But it was useless. Four days before Africa, I laid in bed, crippled with fear.

I was encouraged to write down my biggest fears before I left. This is what I wrote:

  1. I fear Rwanda is not all that I hope for it to be and that I could, quite possibly, hate it.
  2. I fear becoming lonely.
  3. I fear snakes.
  4. I fear my family and friends forgetting me.
  5. I fear missing out on what is going on back home in Canada.

Those were my top five fears - and I know I had more but the rest were all pretty minor in comparison (ex: the plane could crash, I could possibly get malaria and die etc.).

Turns out, I experienced most of those fears. Except number 3, which I whole-heartedly thank Jesus for!!! (Phew.)

In the beginning, I hated it. I was homesick and lonely and unsure of my purpose. But those fears were transformed from something ugly, into something really beautiful.

I experienced what I was afraid of. And to my disbelief, my little life has only been enriched and deepened because I encountered (and to my surprise, lived through) those fears.

Fearlessness is not about not having fear. Fearlessness is not always a ferocious lion, or a huge army of strength. Instead, I believe fearlessness is being brave enough to try. Shaking knees, nauseous stomach, want-to-run-as-far-away-as-possible bravery. That’s fearlessness.

Mary Anne Radmacher said it best: “Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”

Yes. That is fearless.