What Fear Does To Us.

I'm tired of people spreading fear.

All the fear mongering is exhausting.

Fear mongering - the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue.

For someone who has anxiety and fights against being motivated by fear on a daily basis, I don't need others bringing my attention to what else I need to be scared of.

Seeing so much rhetoric being rooted in fear just makes me tired. It makes me wonder why we so easily buy into it. It definitely makes me question Christians swift bout of amnesia about that whole "perfect love casts out fear" idea.

We so easily forget that the Bible we say we believe in also says things like, "God hasn't given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." I don't think we look very loving or of sound mind these days.

Because if you claim to follow Jesus, fear should never be your motivating factor. To buy into the mantra "make America safe again" is buying into fear, it's allowing people in power to trump the truth that we should know (pun intended)...being motivated by fear is not living or loving.

This Is What Fear Does to Us...

It shuts us down. It paralyzes us. It makes us clench our fists instead of open our hands.

It makes us build walls and slam doors instead of making room at the table and remembering that everyone belongs. It ramps up our privilege and American exceptionalism to say, "Yeah...we deserve the best. We worked for this. We are entitled to this and no one else is."

Fear moves us towards hate, towards lines in the sand against us and them, and towards pointing fingers. It moves us towards crossing the street when someone in need is hurt.

Fear loves this idea of other. It drives us away from each other. It gives a reason for why we don't have to love others the way we love ourselves because "they are not like us."

Fear removes personhood and humanity from people. Fear strips our ability to see the image of God in every person we come in contact with. You can't truly believe everyone deserves to have their dignity affirmed if you're so caught up in being scared of the other that you won't engage with them.

It's easy to buy into fear. It's easy to get swept up in group think and think the way everyone else does. But are we really called to live an easy life?

Nothing easy is usually worth doing. It's a lot harder to go against the grain, to love our enemies, to stand up for the poor and marginalized...to live a life that Jesus modeled.

Fear creates reactions and responses in us that basically go against everything Jesus talked about.

Fear makes us collapse into ourselves and look inward instead of outward. It cuts us off from generosity and empathy.

There's no room for light to shine when fear is involved. Fear smothers the light and makes sure everything stays cloaked in darkness and shadows.

Outsmart Fear

It's easy for me to talk about fear because I fight against that smothering feeling every day.

The world needs us to be smarter than the fear mongers. It needs us to remember we are global citizens and to think creatively for solutions that humanize people rather than dehumanize them.

When we are consumed by fear there is no room for love. There is no room for relationship or listening or grace. Fear escalates into hate and we aren't supposed to be people of hate.

If you claim to follow Jesus, we need to remember that our only job is to love. And building walls and supporting any action that marginalizes a people group doesn't look like love to me.

The very people Jesus says to pay attention to are the very people that are getting shamed, blamed, and bullied and when that happens that doesn't look like any kind of gospel I'm familiar with.

I don't intend for this to be a political post, but it's hard for it not to be when that's where a lot of fear mongering is coming from. But I've also heard pastors preach fear from the pulpit and you hear it from the media every day. The people that try to tell you you're not safe are often times the ones trying to make you afraid of something in the first place.

Instilling fear in people is a great way to control and manipulate - so unfortunately it can come from anyone in a position of power.

All politics aside and just for the sake of humanity really...regardless of who you identify with politically, remember that our identity isn't in Republican or Democrat, American or not American, documented or undocumented or fill in the blank...we need to be working towards a WORLD that is about loving each other, creating space for things to be the way they should be - where there is room for everyone, where justice prevails, where grace and mercy triumph and where there is love, love and more love.

I desire to see a world where fear doesn't prevail because love does. Love drives out fear.



We're all connected.

There’s a lot of division around us these days…it’s an election year so I guess that’s to be expected. But it's about more than just politics.

What is most striking to me with all the debates, with all the finger pointing, with all the hate and fear and talk of shutting down our borders is that we’ve forgotten to see the humanity in people. Finger pointing, fear mongering and exclusion create space for the humanity of people to be erased.

We should never seek to erase people. We should never forget each other.

I think in pictures most of the time. When I think of the world and humanity, I have always pictured all of us connected. It’s like there’s a thin string connecting each of us to one another.

All beautifully different, but still connected. We need to look past what makes us call someone “other” and see the humanity in one another. We need to recognize that we are not separate.

Richard Rohr says,

A saint sees things in their connectedness. They don't see everything as separate. It's all one. What you do to your neighbor, you do to yourself and how you love yourself is how you love your neighbor. How you love God is how you love yourself and how you love yourself is how you love God. It's all one. How you do anything is how you do everything.

It's like we've forgotten that we're supposed to love one another. For too long we’ve dehumanized people. For too long we’ve put some lives over other’s lives. For too long we’ve promoted a message that some people, whether it’s because of where they live, where they were born, what color their skin is, what their occupation is or how much money they have, they are more important than another.

This way of thinking has become engrained in our systems, in our actions, in the words we say, in the way we treat each other, in the way we vote, the policies we support and sometimes even the things we preach.

For too long we have forgotten to truly see each other and to see how we are all connected.

I believe God created each and every single person. And therefore, they deserve to be seen. They deserve to be treated with love, dignity and respect. I know I don’t always do this well, so I’m asking God to help me see.

Help me see how we are all connected. Remind me that we belong to one another. Help me recognize that we each have the image of God stamped on us.

Richard Rohr goes on to say,

Faith is recognizing things in their deepest meaning. To be a person of faith means to see people as inherently connected to God and connected to yourself and therefore they must be worthy of love and dignity.

To me, when I see that connection between myself and someone else things make more sense and become clear. It makes sense why we would want to welcome the stranger. It leads to a deeper understanding of why we need to declare Black Lives Matter. It helps us see that people don't deserve to be treated less than and that the table is big enough for everyone.

We begin to see the error in exclusivity and that any kind of theology or policy that dehumanizes or marginalizes people is not truth.

We begin to recognize that string that connects each of us to one another.

This is my prayer for myself and for you today...

May we seek to be saints who see our connectedness. Who do not forget about each other.

May we have the courage to speak out against the systems, the actions and the policies that seek to erase and dehumanize people.

May we seek to be people of faith that see the world more deeply and realize that how we do anything is how we do everything.

May we seek to affirm the dignity in every person we meet.

May we move from just seeing others to recognizing the image of God represented in them.



We're all connected.

The Disconnect.

I’ve been reading Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s new book, Roadmap to Reconciliation, and it has been rocking my world. I came across one thing she said and it made me stop, "What we believe about God will tell us what we believe about people, and what we believe about people will tell us what kinds of communities and societies we believe we should strive to create."

This is it. This truth is why I get so passionate about justice issues, about equity, about any situation where someone's treated like their life is valued less. This is why it’s hard for me to understand why we don’t talk about the hard things and stand up for the right things in church. This is why it’s hard for me to believe someone who professes to follow Jesus can be racist, homophobic or turn a blind eye to such broken systems like our education and criminal justice systems.

Our theology informs everything we do, how we view people, the decisions we make, the causes we take up. Theology is just what we believe about God. If we really believe everyone was created in God's image then we would treat them like they did. If we really believed that God meant it when he said to love our neighbors and even our enemies...it would change how we treated others. If we really believed God meant it when he said to take care of widows and orphans or that he's on the side of justice...wouldn't we care more about justice? Wouldn't we believe we should be doing everything we can to bring more love into the world and help create a place that affirms that image of God in others? If we believed God created the earth and all that inhabits it and declared it good, why wouldn’t we help steward that and care for it well?


I think we’ve allowed a disconnect to happen between what we believe about God, what we believe about people and what kind of communities we should strive to create. We don’t see how they’re connected. We lose sight of how our theology should shape how we treat people and if your theology involves following Jesus it should be rooted in one thing…love.

This is why it matters that we stand and declare that #blacklivesmatter because we recognize that for too long they’ve been treated like they don’t. Because my theology professes that each human is stamped with the image of God and that no life matters more than another. So I should be outraged and broken over the fact that there are too many examples of how white lives matter more. I can't turn a blind eye to that.

This is why it matters that we stand and declare that refugees should be welcome here or that our goal isn't to isolate ourselves from "outsiders." No amount of American exceptionalism should trump our theology. Because what we believe about God will tell us what we believe about people  and what we believe about people will tell us about what kinds of communities we believe we should create…and I’m pretty sure Jesus said to welcome the stranger and to not neglect showing hospitality to strangers. If we believe everything else he says…we can’t ignore the things that make us uncomfortable.

I’m tired of living in a world of disconnect. I ache over the lack of shalom in our world, but I believe there’s a better way. I believe God is love. I believe God created each of us in his image, therefore declaring that we have value, worth and that we belong. Everyone. No questions. No exceptions. I believe God is on the side of the oppressed and on the side of justice. I believe God has shown us what kinds of communities and societies we should strive to create when we pray your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. We should strive to create communities and societies where everyone is welcome and loved. Where grace is shown and kindness is a universal language. Where the table is big enough for everyone. Where we are peacemakers and we remember that we belong to each other. Where we live into the truth that God loves us and out of the overflow of that love we are able to love each other.

I believe in a world built on connection, where the disconnect is no longer present because we remember that what we believe about God tells us what we believe about people and what we believe about people tells us what kind of communities we should strive to create.

And if it all starts with what we believe about God well...God is love.

I see my story in your story.

A couple of months ago I went to a women's networking event at a conference and I wasn't sure what to expect. What happened exceeded my expectations. About twelve of us gathered in a hotel conference room, the facilitators wanted to create a space for women engaged in ministry to come together and share their stories. It became even more than that, it became a thin place. A moment where it seemed like there was just a thin curtain between heaven and earth.

The oldest woman in the group started with her story. A small painting sat at the head of the table, a painting of a small African American girl standing in a field with butterflies. While sharing her story, this woman said, I see myself in that picture. She went on to explain her life growing up in the deep south, her experience with the Civil Rights Movement and how she still sees slavery today, it just looks differently. Every sentence she spoke dripped with wisdom. She saw her story in the girl in the painting.

While another woman shared her story, everything she said deeply resonated with me. Her journey and season of life was so similar to mine, I actually couldn't believe it. Even a song she referenced that had been a lifeline for her in this season was the same song that had been a lifeline for me. I saw my story in her story.

This same woman talked about a business she was trying to start and when she said the name of it, the oldest woman said, "That has been my secret name for God all my years..." without any hint of surprise. They saw one another in each other's story. 

Another woman shared her story. A hard story of trauma and abuse that has led to confusion about where she should go and what she should do. She shared her deep hurt, but also her hopes and dreams. There was not a dry eye in the room while she shared. Tears flowed freely because everyone there acknowledged the depth of her pain and the vulnerability it took to let us in on her journey. It was a privilege for us to be entrusted with her story. After she shared, the same wise woman turned to her, looked her right in they eye and said, "I see my story in your story."

Looking in from the outside, one would see our group gathered and think most of us had nothing in common. We differed in age, race, socio-economic level, background, life stage, dress...it seemed our differences outnumbered our similarities. Yet, we could turn to each other and say, I see my story in your story. 

Wow. What powerful words. Sharing your story is a powerful thing. Making space to hear someone else's story is a powerful thing - it allows glimpses into another's soul. It makes us more human. It allows us to remember that we're all connected and that we all have been stamped with the image of God. We too easily forget that.


A Christmas and New Year Prayer.

This year I was able to share a Christmas prayer and blessing with my family. It's a prayer that will hopefully help us remember and celebrate Christmas and what that means to us, but also to carry what that means throughout the year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!!

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This Christmas season and coming year may we remember love, joy, peace and hope.

May we remember to love those right next to us, love those far from us and even love those who are hard to love.

May we cling to hope.

May we hold on to peace.

May we scatter joy.

May we remember His law is love and his gospel is peace.

May we remember that Christmas just means God came to us and He is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus came in a form that didn't seem right for a Saviour, but that by coming this way He became Immanuel. Jesus came to be with us.

Let us not forget that.

May we carry Christmas through the rest of the year. This upside down way of loving that Jesus tells us about, where we love our enemies, where swords are beaten into ploughshares, where we can be farmers who sow and cultivate peace, hope, love and joy instead of warriors for division, war, pain and oppression.

May we allow our weary souls to rejoice in the fact that He has come.

May we have good memories and remember the responsibility we have to be ambassadors of this hope, of this love, of this peace and of this joy.

May we remember that we are meant to put into action these things we believe...these things that begin with Christmas.

May we start paying attention to where more love needs to be shown, where more light needs to be reflected, when it's time to move to action, to pay attention to where we can be sowers of love, joy, and peace, but also when it's time to sit in the brokenness and hold onto hope.

May we remember that God is love and that Jesus came to show us a different way. A way to love God and love our neighbors. A way to even love our enemies. A way to be a part of a bigger story that's about love, joy, peace, hope and wholeness. Where everyone is accepted, loved and shown dignity and respect.

May we do the hard work of peacemaking, not just peacekeeping. Remembering that we must be creators of peace.

May we remember that there is no us and them. There's just us. We belong to each other. Jesus came for all of us and we don't get to decide who belongs and who doesn't, we just get to love.

May we remember that Jesus came so God could better engage with us. May we remember that God speaks uniquely to all of us and that its God's desire for us to respond to that.

May we go away from this season and into this new year remembering these things and knowing that we don't walk into whatever lies ahead alone because God is Immanuel and because we have each other. We weren't meant to do life alone.

God is with us and God is love.

Let us not forget that.