Be Not Afraid

“If I could go out and proselyte anything, it would be to learn to conquer your fear.  Because as long as you give obedience to that fear you are paralyzed in so many different ways.” – Angela Johnson

On the evening of November 20, 2010, I visited the studio of sculptor Angela Johnson.  I was on a date with my friend, Kim.  For years, Kim had been my girl of my dreams and I was anxiously trying to impress her.  Fearful of saying something dumb, I thought it would be better if I took her to see one of my most talented friends: Angela Johnson, the sculptor.

Angela opened the door and greeted us with a big smile and her wild and joyful laugh.  She ushered us in and gave us a grand tour, showing us her sculptures and detailing their history.  The highlight of the tour was seeing Angela’s work in progress: a larger-than-life sized sculpture of the Savior walking on the water, a breath-taking work of art.  You see, Angela had a vision of creating a garden filled with sculptures depicting the miracles of Jesus Christ.

Needless to say, Kim was impressed.

Angela Johnson sculpting clay.
Angela Johnson sculpting clay.

Kim and I dated for a few months before breaking up.  Her and I both had many doubts about whether or not we could work out.  Our personalities and our ambitions were just so different.

Many months later, on the afternoon of October 15, 2011 I saw Angela Johnson again.  It was the grand opening of her Light of the World garden.  The centerpiece of the presentation was the same larger-than-life sized sculpture of the Savior walking on the water, only this time it wasn’t clay.  It was bronze.

"Be Not Afraid"
“Be Not Afraid”

Her words rippled through me like lightning.  I thought about all of the times that I had come into her studio and had seen her sculptures in process.  I had seen many of these very sculptures when they were just clay!  And now here they were, in bronze, in a garden, and open to the public.  Angela’s vision had come true.  It came true because she had faith.

As part of the unveiling, Angela was invited to speak about her experiences in sculpting these depictions of the Savior’s miracles.  She gestured to the sculpture of Christ walking on the water and began to speak about faith.  She said that when she had the vision to create a garden filled with sculptures of Jesus Christ she knew that it would be a serious undertaking.  Therefore, one of the first sculptures she worked on was the one of Christ walking on the water.  She did so because she knew that this project, like Peter’s attempt at walking on the water, would require a great deal of faith.  So she went forward and attempted the impossible, with nothing but faith to light the way.

I looked at the sculpture that had been transformed from clay to bronze through Angela’s faith. I then thought about Kim.  As I looked upon the image of the Savior walking on the water and I felt as though I, like Angela, was being called to do an impossible task.

A few days later, I abandoned my fears (and my securities) and “jumped the boat,” and started walking towards Kim, the girl of my dreams.

After a month (and many, many details later), Kim and I were engaged.

Oh, and the name of the sculpture? “Be Not Afraid”

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Seth Adam Smith

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