A lot of people recognise being afraid of failure, afraid of people thinking they are no good, or of feeling within yourself that you are not good enough to be successful.
Sometimes, however, I believe this is an excuse. I believe this because I was one I was using for years.
Even when I felt like I had dealt with any self-esteem issues I had - which many people do, when they are a teenagers and then carried over into adult life - I still felt afraid. I thought it was because I didn't feel good enough to be successful. I thought it was because I was afraid of what people would think of me if they saw me fail.
But that actually wasn't the real issue. I was actually afraid that I was good enough. It seems silly. Why would you be afraid of succeeding. And because it seems silly, that's why I never considered it.
It wasn't until my husband pointed out to me one day "I think you're afraid of being good enough, because then people will expect it from you and you will have to live up to it."
And the truth will set you free! Hearing him verbalise that, it suddenly clicked in my brain. It was true. I didn't actually think I wasn't good enough. I was actually afraid of using the gifts and talents God has given me. It wasn't failing I was afraid of, it was knowing that once I lived up to everything that God was asking of me - then I'd have to keep it up!
It's safe to not be successful. It's safe to be mediocre and ordinary. No one expects much of you, you don't have a responsibility to live up to anything. It's easier and it takes a lot less energy.
But it's also way more uninteresting and dull. It's not the life you were intended for. And it's like telling God 'thanks, but no thanks' to the gifts He has given you.
Once I realised that, I was stripped of any more excuses.
"The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:47-48
God is gentle with us when we don't know any better. He understands our limitations and lack of understanding. When we miss the point because we didn't realise that there was a point to get, He understands.
But once we know...we have no excuses. We can't plead ignorance anymore.
And that, I think, is what we are often afraid of. We don't like to be stripped of the excuses that keep us 'safe', because then we know we will actually have to do something about it.
But we aren't alone. God gave us the gifts and talents that we have, and so we can also trust Him to give us the strength to use them. "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." Matthew 7:24-25
We can be assured of our foundations being solid in Him, of His faithfulness and love, and His care for us. These are gifts that He gave us, not chains and shackles. Don't buy into the fear - though He doesn't promise that it will be smooth sailing and that there will be no storms, He does promise to give us everything we need to stand against it.
Ultimately there is abundant joy and freedom in walking in God's will. Do you want that, or are you still happy with a small, 'safe' life that in the end leads nowhere?
What fears have been holding you back? What gifts and talents do you think God is calling you to use to the full?