What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?

Photo by Davide Ragusa via Unsplash

Then a Jesuit pal asked me, quite simply, What would you write if you weren’t afraid?
– Mark Karr, The Art of Memoir

When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  John 5:6

I think a lot about this unnamed man in the Bible, a man who had been disabled for nearly four decades. I often wonder how I would respond if I was him and a man walked up to me and asked if I wanted to get well. Do I want to get well? Are you kidding me?

This experience with Jesus brings questions into my mind, deep questions about myself and the things I long for. I hesitantly turn my eyes towards my many and varied illnesses.

Do I want to overcome my addictions? Or do I enjoy the numbness they deliver?

Do I want to finish writing that book? Or am I afraid of the potential apathy?

Do I want to live a simple life? Or is all this noise keeping me comfortably distracted?

Do I want…?

Of course I do.

But then a still, small voice asks again.

…but do you really?

* * * * *

At the core of what Jesus was asking this man was this: Do you dare to imagine being recreated? Do you dare to engage in a new adventure, a new way of being? Do you dare to stand when all you have done up until now is sit and wait by the water?

Which brings me back around to the Mary Karr quote: “Then a Jesuit pal asked me, quite simply, What would you write if you weren’t afraid?”

The two questions are strikingly similar:

“Do you want to be made well?”

“What would you write if you weren’t afraid?”

* * * * *

Who would you be, who would you really be, if you dared to hope again?

It’s certainly a question worth considering during these days when fear rules most of us, when companies and individuals around us stand to profit from our insecurity, our uncertainty.

Do you want to get well?

What would you do, how would you live, if you weren’t afraid?


2 Replies to “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?”

  1. oh, well this is convicting. I am in the beginning stages of memoir writing and it should not be surprising it is more difficult than I expected. I am “in process” more than I thought. How silly of me to think I finally had unraveled the raveled and could now tell a good story with a good ending. the thing is, in the process, I keep discovering more layers requiring more learning and some things are hard to explain. so, I am being reminded here to write what I would if i were not afraid – at least the first draft through and see where God takes me from there.

    My husbands family and mind come from Lancaster County – Mennonite background and all. We even lived back here for 3 years in the late 70’s in a farm outside Wrightsville,across the river from Columbia. We still get back there from some family occasions. Lancaster is a pretty place.

    Not sure how I came upon your blog – I have met Caleb Wild – at his graduation from Seminary when my son also graduated (Todd Hiestand) so I probably got here through him. I listen to your podcasts and appreciate them so far.

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