When Fear Whispers

When Fear Whispers


As Christians, we know we’re not supposed to live in it. We have all the awesome verses to trot out in proof. And I even hear it as the reason behind not wanting to be cautious–we don’t want to live in fear, after all. I admit it: I’ve said the same things myself. I’ve said, “I’m not going to be afraid. I’m just going to live.”

And then I seek out information to make me feel better. Maybe you’ve done the same. We seek the news articles that’ll back us up, even if we have to sift through page after page of Google results to find them. “Validate my choices!” we cry to the world. “Prove me right!”

We do it with medical things. We do it with politics. We do it with _________. (Fill in the blank; I think we tend to do it with everything.)

But here’s the thing I’ve been seeing lately: this is, in fact, letting fear win. And worse, it’s creating a self-fulfilling prophecy situation.

Last weekend we had a talk in our church about the new vaccine and people’s views on it. The resounding conclusion? People are afraid.

I flip through the news or read my email lists and see the same thing when it comes to politics, court decisions, culture: People are afraid.

We’re afraid of the government. We’re afraid of people trying to harm us. We’re afraid of our rights being taken away. We’re afraid of health crises. We’re afraid of losing power. We’re afraid of persecution.

This then leads to a spiral. Because we fear it, we want to be alert–so we go looking for it. Hunting up evidence. We tell ourselves we’re just researching so we can be well informed, but are we really reading things that show all sides? Generally not. We’re not digging deeper, we’re just adding more of the same sort of “information” to our well, often more articles from the same sources. We think, “Oh man, this is obviously bad.” So we find other “bad” things connected with our original subject. We look for people linked to it and seek out other terrible things they may have done. We seek faces to put on it, people to blame. People to fight. And any time we come up against opposition or something just goes wrong, we think “This is it! I’m being attacked for my beliefs!”

Why do we do this? Why do we deliberately construct a narrative of fear for ourselves and then put a face to it? Why are we always looking for (and often creating) hidden agendas on our oppositions’ part? I think it’s because we feel like if we can uncover something dastardly, we’d know what to fight. We’d know who our enemy is. We’d know what to DO about it.

In college, we had to read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, and one of the concepts we really had to work to understand was how EVERY dream could be, as he posited, “wish fulfillment.” How, my classmates and I asked, could a nightmare be wish fulfillment? We don’t want these bad things to happen! But Freud didn’t say we wished for the bad. What we wished for was a resolution to the bad. We wanted it out in the open and dealt with, not living in the shadows, not breathing down our necks, not a constant whisper of fear in the back of our mind. We wanted to see it, to know what it was, to resolve it. This, he theorized, was the purpose of a nightmare: to root out our fears and let us face them.

Think what you want about Freud in general, LOL, but there’s something to that. We don’t WANT our fears to come true…and yet we want to know. We want to know how to fight it. How to respond. We want to see those shadows clearly. We want to be validated. We want to be told we had a reason to fear. Because, see? Look! There’s this terrible thing, and we saw it coming!

But perhaps this is why God speaks again and again about how we should NOT be afraid. Because this sort of fear doesn’t just render us immobile. It makes us act in ungodly ways. This sort of fear leads us to create villains where really there are just people doing what they think is best, whether we agree that it’s the best thing or not–equating what may be false opinions with bad motives. It leads us to lash out preemptively, to get defensive, to get entrenched. And do you know what happens then? The thing we feared happens…because we forced it to. When we lash out in fear that sounds like anger, the opposition responds in the same. Battles begin. Politics on both sides get further and further apart. We all become known for hate and anger and bitterness instead of love. And so, yes, then each side tries to persecute the other. Each side tries to take away rights. Each side becomes, in the others’ eyes, a villain.

We let fear dictate to us. And then it laughs in our face when we bring the consequences upon ourselves.

Here’s what God promises though: Perfect love casts out fear.

Because if I love that person on the other side of the aisle, I don’t have room to fear them. I’m too busy praying for them and trying to understand them.

If I love those doctors working to help, I’m going to be asking God for wisdom and guidance for them, not subscribing terrible motives to them or looking for reasons not to trust them.

If I love that transgender person, I’m too busy praying that they’ll understand God’s love for them to worry about whether my own rights are being infringed upon.

If we’re acting in love–love for each other, love for the very people who seem to oppose us–then we don’t have room for fear.

There are a lot of websites and “news” stories out there today specifically geared toward engendering fear in our hearts. Because then we’ll be swayed to act in the ways they want us to act. We’ll be so afraid of what “they” are doing that we won’t even consider listening to anything they ever say. If they say it, then it must be wrong.

This is not the way God and faith work, my friends. He does not move through fear. He does not move through selfish ambition. And Christianity did not change the world by seeking its own. It changed the world through acts of selflessness, sacrifice, and radical love. It changed the word by being courageous and bold for Christ. It wasn’t about gaining a voice in politics. It wasn’t about avoiding persecution. It was about risking it to reach one more soul. It was about giving even when it hurt, trusting that God would make what we had enough. It was about being willing to give up our own–our possessions, our ambitions, our very lives–to show others that this is what Christ did for them.

The Gospel is too often being drowned out today by our other goals, though. By our ambitions for power. By our desire to be proven right. The Gospel is just a whisper behind the fears we’re shouting so loudly.

Something I’ve been trying to do before I share any opinion, though, is to ask, “Does my saying this show Christ? Does it speak love to my enemies? Does it seek the best for them instead of the best for me?” If not, then I can be pretty sure I’m acting out of fear, not faith.

But we can combat it. We can combat it in our own hearts by focusing on how to LOVE those people we don’t agree with. We can focus on praying for supernatural protection for our heart of hearts, for our minds, for our lips. Pray for deliverance from fear. For ourselves, and for those around us. Pray that its stranglehold is broken, that its strongholds are torn down. Pray that its pernicious whisper is silenced.

We are not children of the night, my friends. We are children of day and children of light. We are not children of fear. We are children of faith.

What can we do today to silence that whisper of fear? What can we do today to show love for those who seem to be against us? What can we do to try to understand instead of assuming bad motives? These aren’t hypothetical, rhetorical questions. Seriously–let’s come up with a list of things. And then…let’s do them.

Fear makes us worse. But let’s #BeBetter.

Word of the Week – Doldrums

Word of the Week – Doldrums

Doldrums. Interestingly, this is a plural word that has no singular…anymore. Once upon a time, there was indeed a singular version, and a doldrum was a “dull person.” (Dol is a variation of dull.) Over time, however, that meaning disappeared, and was replaced entirely with a similar-but-different meaning: “low spirits; a depressed or lethargic state of mind.”

So here’s the part I find fascinating. That noun came into being around 1800. I first heard it, however, in a nautical sense–the doldrums being literally without wind in your sails, something which happens especially around the equator. I always assuming that the nautical phrase came first and then was applied metaphorically to the mental state. But nope. The nautical sense came about in the 1820s, because of the state of mind the sailors were in when their ships were becalmed.

And here’s the next funny step. Sailors were so frequently in the doldroms in that particular geographic location (around the equator) that people thought that they meant the doldrums were the place. And so by the 1840s, “the doldrums” are what the calm, windless areas around the equator also came to be called. Who knew?

What We’ve Been Reading – February 2021

What We’ve Been Reading – February 2021

Where has February gone? In my opinion, it’s just too short. 😉 Although I didn’t get very much reading done this month, there are some really good books I recommend on this list. 🙂 Happy Reading!

Roseanna’s Reads

For the Edit

The Secret Place by Camille Eide
Really enjoyed this deep contemporary. Though dealing with crucial topics like motherhood, sisterhood, honesty, and selfless love, it also has a narrator with a witty voice and some hilarious moments with a 4-year-old boy, for a total win.

With the Kids

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
I loved this book the first time I read it to the kids a few years ago, and I’m loving it even more this time after having done some independent research on the history of racism, especially in the 20th century. This book definitely deserves all its acclaim!

With the Kids

Little Britches by Ralph Moody
This autobiographical tale about a young boy who lived a few years as a rancher in Colorado with his family is an amazing slice-of-life story from the turn of the last century. Definitely a great read with the kids to show them how hard a homesteading life was…but also how worth it.

For Fun

Beauty Among Ruins by J’Nell Ciesielski
Okay, so I’ve only just started this one, but I couldn’t resist when the press release said it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling! And hello, Scottish castle! And the Great War, so of course right up my alley! I’ll have to let you know next month my final thoughts beyond “Oo, fun concept and setting!” You know, when I’m further than chapter three. 😉

Rachel’s Reads

For Fun

Veilded in Smoke by Jocelyn Green
I know book 2 JUST came out…but that’s how behind I am on my reading. Eeeep! But this story is absolutely FANTASTIC! Genuiniely in love with this story.

On Audio

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
It’s been quite some time since I’ve read The Lord of the Rings. And as I’ve made a decision to read/reread as many classics as I can this year, I decided to put this one on audio. I’m about 25% of the way through now. I only listen in the car as I go to and from my workout classes…But I do enjoy filling the drive with this story.

With the Kids

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
We read this one as part of school and my 3rd grader really enjoyed it. The cadence, the suspense, the adventure…he was enthralled.

Also for Fun

Dreams of Savannah by Roseanna M. White
I mentioned being behind on reading right? I am only know finishing this remarkable story by our very own Roseanna White. I LOVE everything about this story! The characters have taken up residence in my heart and I just admire them and love them! Except the antagonist….ooooh he burns my biscuits.

With the Kids

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Continuing with our nightly reading as a family through this month has been so rewarding. It’s an excellent time for us to all come together and unwind for the evening.



Interruptions. We all know them. And we all hate them (unless of course we’re being interrupted in a task we don’t want to do, LOL). They are distractions. They are things that keep us from doing what we want to be doing, or what we should be doing. They are those annoying, frustrating moments that pull us out of our groove, throw a wrench in our works, or otherwise discombobulate us.

Interruptions are life’s hiccups. And we ALL know how annoying hiccups can be!

Back in September, one of my devotional readings from Live in Grace, Walk in Love by Bob Goff was all about interruptions. I read it while I was away on a writing retreat–one of the few times of uninterrupted writing I manage in a year–so I was especially aware of how far I will go to avoid those dratted interruptions. When I returned from my retreat, I took the time to muse about this topic to the #BeBetter group, and it was something we could all agree with. A few days later, my life was seriously interrupted by a 5-day hospital trip and diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes for my son.

For the next few months, I was left feeling like all I had left were interruptions. My plans, derailed by health issues. My days, interrupted constantly by the need to check blood sugars. My sleep, thoroughly broken by the same. I’ve always loved uninterrupted spans of time in which I can just work. Just be. Just do what I feel I need to do. (Which makes it rather ironic that we chose to homeschool and have both of us working from home. Because lemme just tell you, there is no such thing as a day without many, many interruptions, LOL. As in, the interruptions even have interruptions, until I sit back down hours later and don’t even know what I’d originally been doing! Bet we can all commiserate with that too, right?)

But here’s the thing. Maybe…maybe we’re looking at it all wrong. That’s what Goff pointed out in the devotional, and it’s something I’ve been pondering for months since.

He points out that Jesus was met with constant interruptions too. He was on His way to help one person when He’s stopped by another. Or was on His way to the mountaintop for a much-needed retreat and refresher when He’s interrupted by crowds swarming Him. He was trying to enjoy a nice meal when someone came in to pour oil on His feet. His life was a life of constant interruptions too.

But how did He react?

Well, we don’t see Him complaining. We don’t see Him pushing the interruptions aside. We don’t see Him sighing and getting overwhelmed by frustration.

We see Him pausing. We see Him being constantly “moved by love” for those interruptions, those people so desparate to touch even the hem of their garment that they’d haunt Him through the streets. We see Him recognizing that every single interruption is its own appointment. Not just a distraction from what He was “supposed” to be doing–but a worthwhile task in itself.

Do we view our interruptions the same way?

I’m trying to do that, to view things in a new way.

That the phone call is an unexpected conversation, not an interruption.
The kid at my elbow is a chance to love on one of the most important people in my life, not a distraction.
The email that comes in, filled with demands and exclamation points, is a chance to serve someone in a moment of need, not just something taking me away from my to-do list.
That 2 a.m. blood sugar check is an act of love for my son and a chance to pray, not a half-hour of missing sleep.

What would change in our day if we started viewing each interruption as its own appointment, ordained by God? How much less frustrated would we be if we realized that our time is not our own, and so when our scheduled activity is forced to pause, we recognize it as God tapping us on the shoulder? What if we could seriously view each unexpected thing as a chance to serve Him by serving others and showing His love?

When that woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of His garment, the man who’d been taking Him to his house to heal His daughter no doubt called it a devastating interruption. But the woman called it a life-changing miracle. And Jesus called it another chance to show the love of the Father to a hurting heart. He still healed the little girl–brought her back from death, even. He performed a bigger miracle because of the interruption. And another besides.

We serve a God whose love is not divided by interruptions–it’s multiplied. So let’s rejoice in that assurance…and try to remember that each moment matters…whether it’s filled with what we’d planned or something else entirely.

Free But Costly

Free But Costly

In the book world, there’s a lot of talk about whether it’s worthwhile to give things away for free. People are of multiple mindsets on this. Some think it’s a great way to draw in new readers. Others think it devalues our work. What I know is this: when I get something for free–by which I mean the item simply has no cost assigned to it–very rarely do I actually read it. Why? Because I have so many things waiting to be read that I paid for, or to which a definite value was attached. For instance, one of the perks of being an author with the Baker Group is that we get to pick out a few books from the catalogue each time we’re in it. But we’re given a set value. So I know every title I pick means another that I don’t. There’s still value there. The same goes for if I get a coupon or store credit/cash. It’s a set value. Each item I buy with it means another I don’t. There’s still a cost.

And then there are gifts. They cost us nothing. But we know there’s value, right? We know that someone who cares about us paid something for that item, or invested time in the creation of it. When Judith from church gave me hand-knitted tea cozies for Christmas, it wasn’t just a matter of the ten dollars of yarn, it was a matter of the hours upon hours I knew very well it took her to create that. It has value. It has worth.

Then there’s salvation. It’s free…but it’s not just free. It’s a free gift–paid for by Jesus. And my friends, it’s COSTLY. So, so costly. He couldn’t just offer us salvation with no cost to himself, because then it wouldn’t have value. It wouldn’t satisfy the debt that was owed. He paid it. And then He gave it. Free to us, but certainly not free to Him.

We know this, obviously. We use all the right words when we talk about it. But so often…so often I feel like we toss it around like a free download without really thinking about the value. Or at the least, without putting that value above everything else. We talk about the price Jesus paid, but because it isn’t a cost to us, we offer that so freely and yet don’t give of our own resources unless it’s convenient. We stop giving before it hurts.

He gave until it killed Him.

As we enter the season of Lent, those forty days leading up to His sacrifice, will you join me in really contemplating the cost of this free gift? Let’s pause each day to enumerate the cost.

  • Instead of a life of comfort, He chose the life of a wanderer
  • Instead of the security of a family, He chose to find family among the people who needed Him so desperately
  • Instead of making friends with the powerful, He brought the touch of Heaven to the weak
  • Instead of using His authority to bring Himself riches, He gave up everything to suffer with the poor
  • Instead of hoarding what He had to provide for Himself and His disciples, He took a little and multiplied it to feed the masses
  • Instead of seeking a peaceful life that ended in an easy death at a ripe old age, He offered His life up for us in His prime

Life is the most sacred thing in this world. It is so much more valuable than anything we can purchase with money, isn’t it? Who among us wouldn’t trade everything we have if necessary to keep our child or our spouse or our parent alive? Let me just tell you, when your baby is struggling to draw breath and fighting for consciousness, you don’t care how much the helicopter costs, you just want him to get the help he needs. Life is sacred. Life is precious. Life is beyond price.

And that’s what Jesus gave for us. Everything. Absolutely everything. Let’s make sure we pause to really appreciate that this year.