You. You know who you are. My secret lover, my unwelcome best friend, my curtain, my blanket on stormy nights, my false protection, my roadblock, my maze, the devil on my shoulder.
I’ve told myself a million times that it was me–some unconquerable dysfunction that I have. I’ve called you other names like lack of confidence or shyness. Some have said that it was my upbringing or that you were a side effect of being sheltered. Others have called it lack of trust, or being broken or damaged or hurt or psychologically twisted. Doctors label you with a disorder sign or write you up to a lack of self-esteem. But it’s not true. You are so much more.
But people like me carry you around, reasoning away our suspicion that you are more than a quick diagnosis. I have done it. I have nick-named you, blamed you, excused you, and somehow let you slip between my head and my heart. I have let you overcome my faith, drown out my dreams, and tell me my God is not strong enough to save me. I have let you win. If we were keeping score I would be out of the tournament and you would have the trophy.
You have made me uncertain of what I want by cancelling out every option. To love or to never love again; to go away or to stay in one place; to change or to be static; to be around people always or to be always alone; to struggle much or to never struggle; to do grand things or to do easy things–it all makes me afraid. And at the last laugh, it all leads back to you.
When I was seven I was afraid of fire, so every night I checked under every piece of furniture to make sure nothing was sparking before I went to bed. I was afraid of insects, darkness, wild animals, failure, and of being shot in the head at night. That may have been where you were born, but you didn’t die there. As I grew up, I became afraid of hell, of death, of talking to boys, and of disappointing other people–particularly my parents. Then you grew stronger and stronger until I refused to let anybody see me for what I was–because I was afraid of myself. That’s when you really started to have your way….to weave your lies and fabricate your schemes. That’s when you won and I let you win.
More recently, I have been able to hear you audibly. You are becoming bolder and instead of hiding you reveal yourself in midday sunlight.
When I see a man and women holding hands, or a married couple helping eachother out the door, you whisper, “That will never be you.”
When I see someone teaching in a classroom or taking charge of a situation, you tell me, “You will never be strong enough.”
When I watch a person do something courageous, legendary, helpful, and outside of their comfort zone, you speak, “You will never be brave enough.”
In the everyday, when I struggle and hurt and my mind gets the best of me, you tell me that I am not a fighter. You tell me that it’s not worth it. You tell me it’s over, it’s no use, why even keep trying?
For years I have let you talk and I have listened. For years, I had nothing to say in return.
Now I do.
Now when you whisper in my ear, I pray. Or I try. I’m going to have to make taking a knee a habit instead of what happens after meditating on my fears for two hours.
I think of what is true–because that is the only thing that can snap your spider web of lies. I think that I am loved. I am blessed. I am called. I am forgiven. I am empowered. I I have a Redeemer. I have a King. I have family and friends. I have a future. And in the middle of that truth you start to recoil.
But I can’t just think about things and keep you at bay. It’s like burying a skeleton in the backyard. Sooner or later, when someone is digging out a stump or building a playset, they will find what was buried. So I can’t hide you. I have to expose you….through actions. Through doing things that defy you, excelling above your expectations, and turning your words on their heads—that’s when the real victory will come. It will come when I talk to strangers, make new friends, move, start working that dream project, submit that novel, take a step into the unknown, persevere daily, and finish what I started. It will come when I surrender every day to the One who can whoop you once and for all.
So that’s all have to say to you now. Right now you are probably planning your next scheme. You are examining my words and trying to figure out how you can one-up every single idea, every single belief. I know you won’t give up easily. But guess what? Now, neither will I.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
“The Lord is my light and my salvation;whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7