Don’t yield to fear, or be troubled

I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!

John 14:27 TPT

The definition of yield in this context is this: to give way to arguments, demands, or pressure.

The thing that I’ve learned about fear in my thirty five years on the planet is that it’s a bully. And the voice of fear is pretty loud right about now.
The world feels unsteady.
And out we try to step, wobbly and quivering, because there’s the global unthinkable and the personal inconceivable, and the wide world is collapsing, and I’ve already witnessed enough world-collapse this year and it’s no joke. Fear is no joke.

It’s a bully. I’ve seen friends crippled by anxiety, unable to eat, to rise, to function.
She said it felt like she’s literally fighting a heavy boulder just to get out of bed, and my breath shallowed at the thought.
I’ve fought chest pain and insomnia, and constant nagging worry. In the dark I’ve tossed and turned, trying to shake the harassment from my ears, trying to drown it out with thoughts of the inevitable dawn.
Fear is a bully—it will argue its case, demand you to pay attention and squeeze you until you can’t breathe. It lurks in the shadows, it basks in the pit of your stomach, it whispers in the early hours of the morning.
Fear floats past your face like the scent of someone you can’t quite place and the collective stench of it pervades our news feeds, conversations and dominates our thoughts.
Even when we’re trying to drown it out.
Fear is the virus and it multiplies in isolation.

But we can’t let the what ifs hold the power. The peace I know is robust enough to push back. The peace I know is feisty, courageous.
The peace I know stills the shaking ground around me.
The peace I know is founded on the Word, and the Word is a Person who fights for me.
The peace I know is not the fragile kind.
It doesn’t give way to fear, it holds its ground and fear discovers there’s no way around.
This peace is unyielding. It refuses to give way to arguments or demands or pressure.

It doesn’t mean the pressure isn’t there. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a fight.
But the peace is there for us to grab hold of, if we’d only stretch out our arm that far, and hold on tight. I’ll take hold of it all, with both fists—when the sweat streams and the tears fall, and my muscles ache and my arms shake, still I’ll hold on, I’ll not yield.
Instead I’ll be courageous.

Today for me, courage looks like not watching the news.
It looks like showing up, when you’d rather be hiding away.
It looks like bringing a gift when you’d rather bury it.
It looks like making a decision about where I’ll search to find the peace my soul craves—the Word or the world? (Hint, the world is cray cray).
It looks like declarations of faith and favour, and easing my kids’ anxiety about the big stuff with a simple dinner around our kitchen table.

Courage looks like refusing to worry about any moment other than the one we’re in.

Courage looks like gratitude in the face of the unknown.
Because this is not the end of the story.
Hold tight, don’t yield to fear.
Breathe.

xx

just try again

Its the first of the month today, almost the middle of spring.
And although springtime brings a freshness and newness, and anticipation of the holidays, it can also feel like a hard slog. 
It’s the end of the year, and weariness has set in. 
The high hopes we had at the beginning of the year for this to be the year, or the goals we’d set to lose the weight, make the change, take the holiday, grow the business, have a baby… maybe those things didn’t eventuate the way we thought they would and disappointment is lurking. 

When I wrote last week’s post, I got my brave on. I shared the link on Facebook, I invited people to follow along. And when so many people did I wanted to simultaneously break out in dance, and bury my blushing and embarrassed head under a heavy blanket… and then those anti-writing voices hit even harder.
Once again, Elizabeth Gilbert’s words broke down the walls of fear I was constructing.  
“The image of the tragic artist who lays down his tools rather than fall short of his impeccable ideals holds no romance for me. I don’t see this path as heroic. I think it’s far more honourable to stay in the game – even if you’re objectively failing at the game – than to excuse yourself from participation because of your delicate sensibilities.”

So I knew I needed to get writing. Before I gave that bully in my head another chance to throw down more doubts. And I did what I usually do when I feel like I’m empty of inspiration, or anything of value to say. I quietened myself. I prayed. 
And listening to to that Still Small Voice I heard the words try again
I am, I said on the inside.
And the more I listened, the more I realised those words were not just for me. 
They’re to be shared. Because maybe one of you reading needs to hear them whispered.
Maybe you need some courage… because you quit, or you really really want to quit. 

But I think there is a tribe with a flicker of hope, that needs to hear that they can finish what they started, or start what they dreamed long ago, or allow themselves to re-set goals.
Because maybe we failed or maybe we quit or maybe we’ve never been brave enough to start because it didn’t work the last time – to you fellow hopers and dreamers I want to say this:

try again

Just try again. 
I’m in your corner, and I’m cheering you on, because regardless of how brave we don’t feel, we can take brave steps anyway. We can stay in the game. 

If I can keep trying, you can. And this month I’ll lay it all bare.
Fears, failures, whatever it is that stops us from trying. 
I’ll write here every day. [Something I’ve actually always failed at.] 
And I’m telling you this because whether or not I succeed or fail, I’d hope that it would at least inspire you to try.

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish*

Lets go.

xx

* Philippians 1:6