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 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.



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 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.

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.


We're officially within the season of Advent. The long exhale, the waiting, the anticipation, the breathing, the hoping. The reminder that "God seeks us out where we are right now. Not where we should be by our own or anyone elses estimation" {Sarah Bessey}. It’s a time that often gets overlooked because of the busyness and the holiday hustle and bustle, but it’s so important.

At the beginning of this Advent season I was feeling pretty restless. I was drowning in all the change and transition I’ve been going through and kept getting frustrated with myself when I felt like I wasn’t handling it all well. I kept planning and over-thinking and plotting and over-analyzing and seeking the right answers and striving for clarity and what to think of next or what I could be doing...and on, and on, and on.

It's exhausting and when I looked up and realized Advent was here, I paused. I started really thinking about what this season means and felt like this is the perfect time to make a change. To stop the seeking. To be present. To stop the hustle. To stop the busy. To wait and anticipate. To stop the over-thinking. To stop the plotting.

One Sunday morning a phrase echoed across my soul, “Cease the striving."

I felt it clear as day. Cease the striving. Be still, be present, just be. Look down, not around, not side to side, not ahead, but down. To look at my feet, to see where I am and be present there. To focus on my little corner of the world as it is and to water the grass where I’ve been planted. To wait and breath in the truth that I am significant where I am and nothing I strive to do or hustle towards will make me more significant or worthy.

I receive a daily Advent email from the Global Advent Calendar and it has a word for the day and a thought from a monk. Monday it was "Be." Brother Curtis Almquist said, “Contentment is more about being than about doing, or acquiring, or mastering, or craving, or searching. Contentment is about being satisfied given the limitations of our present life."

So this Advent season, I choose contentment. I choose to be exactly where I am. I choose the waiting. I choose presence over plans. Stillness over striving. Stopping over going. Acceptance over analysis. Patience over plotting. I choose to be. I choose to cease the striving.

Join me?

I made an advent wreath this year and I love it. It's not anything special, but a daily reminder to cease the striving. Every Sunday we light a candle and read the weekly email from Sarah Bessey about that weeks candle.


If you want to read some good thoughts about Advent, find a few from Sarah Bessey here and here. You can also receive a daily thought from A Global Advent Calendar here.

I used to think...

I used to think I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what it meant to have faith and believe. Everything was in a pretty, wrapped up box and made total sense. We were meant to be happy all the time and go on with our lives accepting the sadness, but quickly flipping the coin over to joy. I used to think I needed to keep Jesus in a box too. I knew this whole Christianity thing was supposed to be about following Jesus and being a disciple of him...that it means so much more than a label or a checklist or rules of right or wrong, but I spent so much time trying to be good, trying to make sure I was doing it right, and saying and believing the right things. I was missing out on the person of Jesus and who He was and how He is.

I used to bristle at being called a Christian...too much hurt, too much misuse, too much baggage is associated with that word. It was something I was not proud to be labeled as and the day I realized that a little part of me unraveled. What was wrong with me that I recoiled at this label? And even while I took a step back from the beliefs and traditions I've always known and confronted these doubts and questions, I never could shake Jesus. I never could shake that name, that person, that relationship and the more and more I stepped back from my pretty, wrapped up boxes and black and white definitions, I felt like I took a step closer and closer to Jesus.

I started to really think about who he was, what he stood for and if I'm going to say I follow him, what does that mean? I used to think it meant I had all the answers, I was on the "good" path, I should be able to fix everything and make sure it all works out for good. I should be happy all the time, but that's not how this works, at least it hasn't for me. My pretty wrapped up boxes have been destroyed, my world has faded from black and white to all kinds of shades of gray and I embrace the wonder, the messiness and the times it just doesn't make sense because I don't have it all figured out.

When you're sitting in a funeral for a student who had been shot and killed, there is no way to fix that. When you watch his mother and brother and family cry out when that casket lid shuts, there is no pretty, wrapped up box for that to fit in. When the pain and the grief was choking me and all I wanted to do was make it better for them, all I could say was Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. That name over and over again. Because what else can you do? This doesn't make sense, how does my faith explain this? I don't know, but Jesus, Jesus, Jesus...

When I've been in my darkest place, feeling like the despair, the confusion and the loneliness may just overtake me, there was no pretty, wrapped up box for that to fit in. When I felt like the world swirled around me like a tornado and all I could do was hang on for dear life, I didn't know how this fit in my black and white categories or my understanding of my faith. It didn't make sense to me, but Jesus did and I said that name, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

Sarah Bessey says, "In your heart of hearts, in your raw place of grief and suffering, in your rich center of love and redemption, who do you say God is?" God is with us. That's who God is to me. God is with us and he is love, he is comfort, he is peace and he hates what is evil. It is not his will for a teenager to be killed or for us to suffocate in the darkness, but Jesus is on the side of those who suffer and rather than looking down on our pain, sits with us in the brokenness, in the grief and in the sadness.

I used to think we were doing it wrong if we were sad and didn't have a quick answer or reassurance for when that terrible thing happens, but now I know that we are going to be sad, we have to feel those feelings and there are no quick answers. We have lost the practice of lament and how true healing comes from walking through the grief.

I used to think I was damned for not loving being called a Christian, but now I think I am not alone in that and now I know that a label is not who I am. I never could shake Jesus and that's who I want to be known by. I want to be known for all Jesus stands for...for love, justice, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, mercy, goodness, life, comfort and peace.

I used to think Jesus was present in my life and was the person I pointed to when asked who I believed in, but now I think He is so much more than that. He is there with me always, holding my hand to keep me grounded when the world is in chaos around me, sitting with me in the grief, walking with me in the wilderness and celebrating my joys. Always reminding me that He is there, he is love, he is comfort, he is constant, thank you Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

{This is part of the Out of Sorts Synchroblog with Sarah Bessey answering I used to think_____ but now I think _____ ...head on over here to read more!}