Dear Fear,

You frequently remind me of how susceptible I am

to the lies and truths which you expertly mix,

to make me believe you care about my person.

 

You successfully tell me that I cannot succeed,

You attach my worth to my success,

and tell me I don’t belong unless I win,

the biggest, brightest, most prestigious award.

 

You take my dreams and make me salivate for their passing,

but you destroy my inner peace to reach them,

staining my hopeful, optimistic dreams with blood.

 

You are in love with my insecurities because they are fuel,

they give you power to remind me of my weaknesses,

and you delight when I build high walls of shame around them.

 

You steal my sleep, you steal my joy and in return,

you replace my honest smile with a fake one,

you make me believe I’m the only one that matters.

 

You cannot co-exist with gratefulness and humility,

so you entangle me with malignant thoughts,

thoughts of scarcity, pride, and arrogance.

 

You convince me that I am not worthy of love,

Or of another’s time and energy,

And I believe you.

 

You love when I give you the time of day,

you love when I believe everything you say,

you delight in crippling me.

 

You horrid thing; you care nothing about me,

how dare I let you deceive me.

 

This is my time to look you directly, intensely,

in your fiery yellow, evil eyes,

and tell you that,

you……

lose.

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Lessons from the Playground

How often do we learn the most from the least likely to teach us?

This week I had the joy of being able to take my little 6 year old friend out for a girls day. She is, by far, one of the coolest people I know. Having had a fun day of shopping and eating, we decided to make our way to the local playground. Now this isn’t just any playground, it’s a super-charged playground with several yards of various colorful apparatuses to conquer.

As she began to climb the castle, she stopped in her tracks when coming to a roped feature that connected the two towers. The flooring had ended and the roped webbing became the route in which she had to tread to continue her conquest of the castle. She decided that this feature was too scary and not worth the fear it created. She gave up and turned around. She did this several times at various spots on the playground. I could see she was missing out on a lot of fun, but all she could see is that this was a giant obstacle that was too scary.

Eventually, we came to a rather frightening spiral ladder… the ladder was tilted, making it a slightly more difficult ladder to climb than your average ladder. Because of her short stature, she couldn’t see what was beyond the ladder, but I could. And I knew that she’d want to partake in what fun awaited her at the top. To my amazement, she left the ground and began the ascent. She made it about 3 seconds before telling me this was too scary and asking me to help her down.

Now if I thought she couldn’t make it, by all means, I would’ve given in and lifted her down. But I knew she could do this thing that scared her.

At this moment, I wanted to tell her so many things. I wanted to tell her that life was messy and hard and, at many times, scary. I wanted to tell her that fear would be a frequent visitor and would tempt her into taking the easy, safe way out. I wanted to tell her that giving into fear is not the way to life… it’s not the way to joy– or intimacy– or vulnerability.

I wanted to tell her about the evil that has come from people motivated by fear. The racism, the discrimination, the hate. I wanted to tell her the mistakes people make because of fear. I wanted to tell her about the amazing things people miss out on because they give up out of fear.

I wanted to tell her all of these things. I even wanted to lift her off the ladder so she wouldn’t have an unpleasant experience. But I didn’t.

Because here’s a secret I’ve been learning… a pleasant life is not always a rich life.
The safeness and steadiness quickly wear off and give way to superficiality and boredom.

Instead, I stood behind her… close to her… and I told her that I just knew she could do it. I told her that I wouldn’t let anything happen to her. I told her that we’d work through this together.

After a moment, she decided that she could take just one more step, which turned into another and another. I let her inch along. Finally, she made it to the top. She was ecstatic. She was empowered. “Oh Kate, I am Merida from Brave“, she yelled. “Yes, you are… you always were,” I replied.

Having completed this feat, she began attempting other playground equipment that scared her. And before long, she had free reign of the playground. As the sun set, I could see joy radiating from her.

And once again I realized, life lessons are often learned from the least likely to teach us.

“And I’d Ride on the Backs of the Angels Tonight”1

Though I have a blog, I rarely use it because I am not so great at expressing my feelings in a public manner, or private for that manner; however, I do have momentary revelations, though they may be few and far between. And since it is the new year, I feel obligated to journal it. Thanks for reading…whatever it may be worth.

I have become incredibly adept at making worry, fear, and irrationality my close friends. This semester started off on a terrible note, a self-induced one no doubt; it slowly progressed into something more beautiful though, thankfully so. I think this, coupled with the fact that anyone who knows me will tell you that I absolutely cannot stand the cold weather, created a bad mindset in me…a hard heart, unwilling to be moved by her Creator in Heaven.

So there is the groundwork that explains my current mindset. This is not life. It is not abundant life that Christ came to give. What does it mean to live abundantly? Well…I am still seeking it as well. But I know it is not what I have been doing. The joy, the peace, the hope, the hope is abundance. The grace given to me every day that is, in every way, undeserved… is abundance. Giving that grace to others is abundance. Giving your life to a cause greater than yourself is abundance. Loving others above all is abundance. And friends, this life is too beautiful, too short, and too precious not to live in abundance.

It is not about living in misery for the things and people that we don’t have…for there are too many things that are out of our control. It has to be about loving amongst whatever and wherever we are. For me, its extremely hard to let the guard down…the guard that seemingly protects me from the pain that comes as a direct result of loving with everything I have. Love IS messy. I have learned that. And it hurts. Like hell sometimes. When you lose someone you love, there no magic salve that heals. But I will die believing that love is the most incredible thing that we can give. It is the most incredible thing that we can experience… because it forces you to forget about yourself. In a world where selfishness pervades every crevice of every heart, Love triumphs. It’s our only hope.

This is abundance. Its the kin-dom of God here on earth. Though I have done an embarrassing job of it this fall, I will live in it because its also called obedience.

I leave you with these lyrics from an old Newsboys song called “Joy”; I cannot seem to expel them from my heart or my head. I think they are going to be an anthem in 2010.

You give me joy that’s unspeakable, and I like it, and I like it,
Your love for me is irresistible, I can’t fight it, I can’t fight it,
You carried the cross and took my shame, I believe it, I believe it,
You shine Your light of amazing grace, I receive it, I receive it

1) The title of this post is referring to a lyric from “Poughkeepsie” by Over the Rhine