Colleen Carroll Campbell

Fear: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s

Excerpt from The Heart of Perfection:
How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s (Simon & Schuster, 2019)
By Colleen Carroll Campbell

A few summers ago, my family and I were treated to a front-row seat at the Great American Eclipse. It was the first total solar eclipse to cross coast-to-coast in the United States in nearly a century. The seventy-mile-wide path of totality—where you could see the moon totally cover the sun—fell across our suburban St. Louis home. So we set out lawn chairs in our driveway, slapped on our ISO-approved sunglasses, and savored the eerie beauty of midnight in the middle of the day, complete with the chirping of crickets and flickering of street lamps confused by nature’s most stunning celestial trick. 

The atmosphere was electric as we watched the moon inch over the sun that August afternoon. As we gawked at the wonder of God’s creation in the darkened sky, I stole a glance back at our little crew. There they were: best buds John Patrick and Maryrose, foreheads still sweaty from chasing each other in the backyard all morning; their pigtailed little sister, Clara, wearing multiple shades of mismatched blue that she had carefully selected for the occasion; and baby brother, Joseph, with his impossibly pudgy cheeks and sandals that were, as usual, on the wrong feet. Behind them all stood John, smiling and strapping and strong. 

As I looked at my husband and children, the thought came to me: 

It’s going fast. 

Not only the eclipse. Our life as a young family, this stage of raising babies. 

Before I know it, in years that will someday feel as fleeting as the moments it took the moon to pass across the sun, this will be over. My children will be out of my home, off on their own adventures. They’ll take with them only memories—of what I said, but even more, of how I lived. And I will be left to ponder how I spent the years God gave me, as I see more of them in the rearview mirror than on the horizon. 

When I look back over my life, will I be racked with regret over countless hours wasted on fear, worry, and indecision, on playing games with God and guilt trips on myself? Or will I be filled with gratitude at how God cared for me as I took bold risks to follow my dreams and answer His call? 

Will I wish I had spent more time playing it safe? Or more time dancing in the waves? 

I know how I want to live, how I want my children to see me living. And that means I have no more time for fear. I’ve wasted too much already. 

“It is for freedom that Christ set us free,” Paul says. “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). 

It may take many more days of struggle, but I’m determined to break free of fear. 

For me, for my children, for God. And for good. 

Colleen Carroll Campbell is an award-winning author, print and broadcast journalist and former presidential speechwriter. Her books include her critically acclaimed journalistic study, The New Faithful; her spiritual memoir, My Sisters the Saints, which won two national awards and has been published in five languages; and The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God's.Colleen Carroll Campbell is an award-winning author, print and broadcast journalist and former presidential speechwriter. Her books include her critically acclaimed journalistic study, The New Faithful; her spiritual memoir, My Sisters the Saints, which won two national awards and has been published in five languages; and The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God's.