Fear is the greatest roadblock to fulfilling our purpose in life.
It seems that it is always lurking, waiting to paralyze us into inaction or to push us in a direction that ultimately leads to ruin. It is a darkness that feeds on doubt and the insecurity we hide from everyone but our deepest selves. At our core, the will to move, or the surrender to not even try, may be the first and best battle we ever face.
My life was perfect in many ways, surrounded by peace and an environment designed to make my heart as lovely as my appearance. The rolling and angry chaos within was carefully buried and known only to a few.
I was surrounded by the smell of saffron and wild flowers, placed in my chamber by those in charge of caring for my anteroom. It was beautiful. It was quiet. I needed a place to gather my thoughts and even more, to gather my courage. I looked for my heart among the scents and silk clothing, but my hands only found empty adornment.
My cousin had informed me of the plot against our people, an evil scheme borne of our enemy Haman, an advisor to the king. Standing against Haman, we had searched for an opportunity and Mordecai was convinced that our best course of action would come through me. I wasn't so sure.
I had asked him to gather people to fast and seek heaven for three days, while my friends and I did the same. It wasn't just stalling, but I admit that I needed some time. I needed more time than I had available; things were moving too quickly.
The knowledge that I was a Jew was a secret about to be revealed. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Maybe I could wait a few minutes more.
I was afraid of failing. Not just for myself, but for the thousands of people counting on me. I was afraid of death. But again, it wasn't just my own life that was a sinking weight upon my heart; it was the death of my people. I hoped for things to reverse, for a people that desperately needed redemption to find it. I was afraid they would never see the answer they longed to embrace.
What if our plans failed? What if the response wasn't what we hoped for? What if nothing happened? What if he was angry and I made things worse? What if I came at the wrong time and sealed our fates forever? We were a city about to be bathed in blood and loss, what could a girl do to stop it?
I could do nothing but try.
I drew myself up to my full height and took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. I raised my hands toward heaven in supplication one last time. Then I stepped forward into the inner court and waited on my king's response.
It is a glorious and frightening moment when you've done all you can and all that is left to do is wait and see what happens. It may only be a few seconds, but that sliver of time contains everything. My wisdom is not as great as my beauty, but the counsel I give is this:
Be afraid. The danger is real. It's not just a shadowy exercise of the mind.
But don't be mastered by your fear. Act as if things will go as you hope and pray that they will. It will give heaven the opportunity to move in you and through you.
Your people need you more than you will ever know.
"On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand" (Esther 5:1-2).