I CAN'T SHAKE IT
There is something that has been stirring in my heart for a couple of weeks now, that in some way, I don't want to share...but I can't shake it. It's something I feel I need to get off my chest, and it feels like it's something emanating from deep within my soul. Maybe there is a part of me that is afraid, not because of what others might think or say, but maybe because it gets to the bedrock of who I want to be and how I want to show up in this world. I don't know. What I do know is that a couple of weeks ago, there were tragic terrorist attacks in many places across the world, with the most publicized one being in Paris. Because of those attacks, there has been a heightened sense of fear that manifests itself in so many different ways, and that fear is used to manipulate us in ways involving everything from politics, to religion, to daily activities, and more.
And then I woke up on Sunday morning to a text that had been sent to me in the middle of the night, asking me to pray for an acquaintance/friend and his family because of a terrible tragedy. As the news came in, this family's 7-year-old daughter had been abducted at her brother's football game, and was killed just a few yards away from where they were all sitting. She was reported missing, and then she was found only 30 minutes later in a nearby creek. It makes me nauseous even writing this, but it has been so tremendously sad and devastating to people I know, as well as their small community. It's easy to look around the things of this world and create a long list of fears, but there is no freedom in that.
A LONG LIST OF FEARS
The current state of our government wins votes by emotionally charging it's support base. Its a system that operates on it's ability to generate a flood of emotions, all the while minimizing certain facts, and it happens on both sides. We are led to be afraid of who will be the next to lead our great nation, and that fear is used as leverage to get us to vote a certain way. It's amazing the level of fear that is induced surrounding: candidates, policies, refugees, diseases, terrorism, war, Russia, China, North Korea, Islam, Christianity, gay marriage, school curriculum, and even red Starbucks cups. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be concerned about issues, I just don't think fear is the best decision maker. It seems that almost everyday, someone claims that another people group is declaring war on them, or on something in which they believe. I have learned in my life that just because you disagree with someone else's opinions, lifestyle, religion, or beliefs, doesn't mean that they are your enemy. We need fewer lines drawn in the sand, and more bridges built.
THE POWER OF FEAR
But here is the heart of what I want to say: I am not controlled by fear...and it is not because I turn a blind eye to the issues of our world. It is not because I turn a deaf ear to the cries of those in need. My only response when fear is floating around, is to live in defiance. Fear takes on all kinds of shapes and forms. There are the fears of this world and the things that go on, and there are the internal fears that we all carry. We all have those fears that we're not enough, that we are an imposter and someone is going to expose us. We all have those fears of failure, and I believe that even more people have the fear of being great. Fear is a powerful motivator. In fact, it is said that the #1 motivator is the fear of loss. Think about that for a moment. Of all the great and noble motivators that can be attributed to great works, the #1 motivator is still that you might lose something.
I CHOOSE LIFE OVER FEAR
This is where I live in defiance. When the world says I should go hide, or when that voice in my head tells me that I'm not enough, it is my opportunity to live the life I want to live in spite of what fear says. You see, I live in defiance of the fears of this world when I continue to build the life that I want to live. When I continue to love my family, and to raise my children the best way I know how, I am choosing life over fear. When I keep moving forward in pursuit of my dreams, I am choosing life over fear. When I have the mindset that no matter what anyone else says, no matter what the government does or does not do, and no matter what events go on around me, I choose how I will respond and I make my own internal weather, I stand in defiance of fear. I am not a fool who thinks there is nothing bad in this world, and that there aren't people who want to bring harm to others. But I happen to believe that the freedom that I have been given to live the life I want to live, regardless of how it turns out, is my greatest response to those who wish to introduce fear. I haven't told this to anyone, but, the night after the attacks in Paris, I felt the urge to get out of the house, so I took the entire family out for the evening. We went to a few shops, we ate out, and we spent time around people. In my mind, it was an act of defiance. It was my way of saying that I would not be swayed by fear, that I would continue, even in the small ways, to live a life of freedom. It wasn't an effort to tempt or to speak anything negative into life, on the contrary, it was to stand for all that is good. It was as much a declaration of me standing for my freedom as it was in defiance of fear.
THE POWER TO CHOOSE
The freedom that I live with doesn't just come from the laws of our country, it comes from the understanding of the power that I have, the power to choose. I have the power to make any decision that I want to make, as long as I am willing to deal with whatever the consequences are that come out of my decisions. There is tremendous power and freedom that comes from that mentality, and it has changed my life. So I choose life over fear. And even more than living my life in defiance against fear, is living my life FOR the freedom that I have been given. I have been given the freedom to make the most of this life. For me, my light shines bright through music, as an artist. For you, it may be as a teacher, a construction worker, a doctor, an entrepreneur, a soldier, and for many of us, as fathers and mothers. Whatever it is that makes your light shine bright, do it! You see, it is my contribution to the world. It is my part of making this world what it is, and what we want it to be. It is a defiance against the darkness, but more importantly, it is a stand FOR the light.
THE ONLY THING WE HAVE TO FEAR IS...
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States once said, "let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Let us not give our power and life over to the nameless, unreasoning, and unjustified terror which paralyzes our ability to move forward, whether that threat comes from within, or without.
FIND YOUR BRAVE
There is a song from Les Misérables that sings, "Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?" I believe that there is a world that we all long to see that is beyond our current barricades. I implore you, and ask you to take a stand for yourself, for your life, your dreams, and for your freedom. Don't be captivated by fear. I'm not calling for war against something, there is too much of that going on, and I'm not drawing a line in the sand. I'm attempting to build a bridge, and I'm calling for an awakening for us to live in the freedom that we have, to be who we want to be in this life, and to pursue the life that we want to live. May your life song drown out the echoes of fear humming all around us, but more importantly, may it sing and stand FOR the life you have been called to live. Everyone has fear, and everyone can be brave. Find your brave!
I have learned in my life that just because you disagree with someone else's opinions, lifestyle, religion, or beliefs, doesn't mean that they are your enemy. We need fewer lines drawn in the sand, and more bridges built.