fear, dreams, & risking the unknown


An unusually warm day in November nudged me out the door for a run. I planned to run my usual course: down to the park, left turn by my favorite coffee shop, past all the beautiful homes and quaint restaurants and shops on a main street in town, down Music Row on 17th, and then back the same way I came.

I’ve done it 100 times. It would have been a great run, enjoyable course, easy in the sense that I didn’t need to think about where I was turning next or how much farther I needed to trod on to make it home. It was routine. It was comfortable.

But reaching the park, I took a sharp left turn and headed to unknown territory. After several busy intersections, it was all side-streets. I twisted and turned and made my way past houses with yards splashed with orange and yellow and red leaves. I waved to parents walking with strollers, an older gentlemen who sat quietly on a bench in his front yard, other runners and cyclists. The sun deceived November and shone in all its glory, making us shed our layers and the crisp fall colors were like paint on a child’s page. It was an impossibly beautiful afternoon.

I ran by a white house on a hill with white ducks swimming in a pond by the road. I stopped and snapped a picture, reveling in my adventurous run that brought such joy and beauty. Emotions swelled my chest. I felt God near.

He had taken me through so many adventures, complete with valleys and mountaintops, and my life would be so dull and meaningless without the great story.

So much of life is a series of decisions to stay the course and hold tightly to what is comfortable or to take a chance on the unknown. There’s a weight inside each of us that pulls us back to what is known, and this weight makes it more difficult to soar to new places.

There’s a story in the Bible of a group of people from Israel who were slaves to the Egyptians. A man named Moses rescued them from slavery, cruelty, and starvation.  But do you know what they said over and over when things got hard after they left Egypt? “We want to go back to Egypt!” Slavery in Egypt was predictable; the land in front of them was unpredictable, leaving them longing for a place that was never the final act in their story.

If we stay in the same city, with the same friends, at the same job, running the same course, maybe that is the life God intends. For now, at least. Because moving cities, or going back to school, or changing careers, or even just switching friend groups is risky. We risk feeling alone, we risk rejection and hardship, uncertainty looms. When the adventure detours to the valley, panic can set in that we made the wrong decision.

But what I know from moving across the world to China and forgoing law school is I would have missed the shadowy places that were excruciating at times, but I also would have missed a world of joy, exponentially more soul-filling joy than my comfortable, steady course.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this, because I’m not going anywhere for a while. I’m finally putting down roots for the first time in my life. But I know that some of you have the nudge to take a dive into uncharted waters. Maybe it’s changing jobs, or meeting new friends, or trying out church, or any number of adventures that may lead you down winding, unfamiliar roads, where you may feel panic about when things don’t go well.

We must live unafraid of listening to the urge inside, telling us to stop running the same course, down the same streets, with the same view. For sometimes, those familiar paths lead us away from the greatest part of our story.

Do you feel a nudge to take a leap of faith or do something drastic, something different? Please share! 

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15 Responses to “fear, dreams, & risking the unknown”
  1. Lerato says:

    Hi Ruthie,

    This post is God sent. I have been panicking about something I’m since yesterday and this post feels like an answeared prater. Thank you so much. I still feel very much afraid and almost panicking; but I beieve I just made a decision to try and be the best I can be witg the changes.

    Praise be to our Lord and Saviour, He never leaves us destitute… He is there with us daily leading.

    Lord I am so grateful for your faithfulness in my life, and pray that I will follow hard afrer you… even when I’m afraid and uncertain.

  2. Adi says:


    You are a godsend.

    I have spent my entire lunch hour crying my eyes out while talking to a friend who promised that things will work out .A few weeks ago ,I decided to resign from my job so that I could chase my dreams: start my jewelry business, write and mentor girls about beauty and self-image.
    A leap of faith!! The first I ever took in my life.
    Its my last day at work and I have been really anxious, thinking to my self if I did the right thing to leave. All morning I have been thinking “Maybe I should just recall my resignation letter”.My supervisor tells me to stay because he can foresee a promotion in the near future.
    I was on my knees this morning and I asked God to give me strength,courage and wisdom. I asked that He gives me a sign that I have done the right thing, a sign that I will be fine after jumping in the deep end without my floaters on.

    Guess what? HE DID.
    As I sat back down at my desk with my eyes all red and puffy, I saw this fear, dreams, & risking the unknown come in as an email and I was overwhelmed. Even before reading it ,I knew that God had answered me.

    I know it will not be easy but I will never know if I never try.



  3. Katie P says:

    Um I love this house – that’s right near me! – and I love you. Great words of wisdom. XOXO

  4. Ashley says:

    Hi Ruthie,

    I think The Lord led you to write this because people (including myself!) are going through times of transition and what feels like ALOT of uncertainty. I’m in that boat after resigning from a full-time job of several years. It was the epitome of being safe, comfortable, and familiar. I’m thankful for the opportunity but I sense The Lord leading me in a new direction. The journey hasn’t been easy and I’ve faced a lot of fear along the way. But I know He is weaving a beautiful plan into place for my life!

    Thanks for the encouraging and timely post! Blessings to you.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Ashley,

      I’m SO thankful. Transition and uncertainty can be crippling, but it’s also during these times that our good Dad feels near. Blessings to you as well!

      much love,

  5. Joanna says:

    Two years ago, I took a leap of faith and moved three hours away from my friends and family for a job opportunity in a different country. I’m now at a fork in the road with that job, where I have to choose to stay or not and move back to my hometown since I wouldn’t be able to live in this city financially without it. Part of me wants to stay, to also continue staying involved with my ministry with high schoolers, and part of me wants another change, to take the unknown path again and leave on a whim. Either way, I have to make sacrifices, say my hellos and my goodbyes. I still don’t know what God wants me to do, or if He’s good either way, but I have to make the choice soon…as in tomorrow. Your post hits home.

    Thanks for the encouragement,

  6. Katy says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling a great deal with uncertainty there past few days and weeks. After two years of dating and 6 months of engagement my fiance and I ended our relationship. Although I think it was the right decision, it has been very painful and I find myself going back and forth. While we both love each other we feel that God is not calling us to marriage – at least at this time. I know with all my being that God has a perfect plan for me, but it is trusting that my decisions are leading towards it that is so difficult. Please keep me in your prayers.


  7. this is a timely word Ruthie – I’ve been on transition mode the last two years after moving 8000 miles across the globe! it’s easy to wonder about the aches and pains and discomforts of transition, i needed an encouraging words, thanks!

  8. Rebekkah says:

    Thank you for this!! Such God-timing! I’m in a position where no doors have opened up for me here for the last 2 years despite many efforts, and I’m getting to the point of realizing maybe God is calling me elsewhere. It’s such a scary thing, but your words are so true… Definitely what I needed to hear today :)

  9. Rachel says:

    I would love to travel as a missionary. I am currently in highschool, but I just want to go travel and help out in places like the Philippines RIGHT NOW.

  10. Angela says:

    Thank you Ruthie! I’ve been glued to your blog all day (at work mind you! & not proud of that :/) I should be working for The Lord right!? Anyhow, no excuses but I’ve been at the same job now for nine years & over it. Its a dead end, good paying job if I wanted to continue to coast. It’s a small company and it’s been very comfortable for a longggg time. I’m 32 & single.. Newly single that is. I met this guy online and he moved to be with me. Exciting at the time but Ive started to feel smothered, down and not excited about us getting married. He’s a serious guy, (my 1st Christian relationship) but it’s going too fast for me & I’m panicking. He’s hurt I want to chill out & just get to know each other more. He has issues as so do I & I broke it off. It’s only been 6 months living in the same state. I’ve gone from one relationship to another :/ so I’m feeling discouraged like I won’t ever be able to commit to someone, get married etc. Relationships make me feel weighed down & friends joke that I’m just too free spirited to commit. I’ve been a Christian all my life but really started to follow Christ & have a relationship with Him two years ago. Still something in me isn’t satisfied. I feel like I need to have an adventure and broaden my horizons before I commit & get married. Long story short, a year ago I met a yacht captain on a plane & he introduced me to the industry.. Becoming a stewardess on yachts & traveling a bit! I was soooo excited that I had finally found what I was looking for and then I talked myself out of it.. Bc I felt my chances of marriage & family & my home would go out the door.. Joined online dating & well met my ex-boyfriend as of a week ago. I can’t stop thinking of quitting my job, renting out my house & moving to Florida to persue this adventure. Part of me Is wondering if I’m giving up having marriage & a family w/him & the other part of me feels I would regret if I stayed with him & never tried to venture out. Idk what to do as I’ve been in the same spot for 13 years & id be taking a huge risk! I really want Gods will for my life & this is a big decision! I just hope I will make the right one.. I have a few months to decide etc. your stories are encouraging! Thanks for listening to me rant

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