Fear & Joy

Why do I let fear grip me? Why do I let anxiety tear at me, peeling my skin until I am exposed and shaking, freezing in the bitter, piercing cold of [the false]* reality [I choose to let myself believe in]? How can I allow my soul to be afraid when there is truly nothing to be afraid of?

I worry what others believe about me, what they feel about me. In turn, I fear their thoughts, I fear their words. I worry that my life will not be comfortable, rewarding, successful, joyful. In turn, I fear that which I cannot control. In pursuit of joy, I let my soul-shaking fear be the map and compass in a self-ravaging journey.

In order to find the joy that my fear is keeping me from, the fear must be put aside. I believe that happiness + contentment = joy. When I search for the key to contentment and hunt for the solution to happiness, I come to naught, though, because I will never find them. I may very well get close on my own, but I’ll never truly find them both, together.

I have found contentment, I have held it gently in my hand and felt the promise that in any circumstance, its presence will remain, if I do not snuff the light out. That is all well and good, but happiness (which seems to me less valuable than contentment, at this season in life) evades my grasp. It is often hard to keep contentment in one’s hand while reaching for something else, but I suppose that is expected. At times, I have also found happiness—those giddy, mischievous times growing up, when nothing else seemed to exist. The two of them, though, rarely seem to be seen together.

The truth is, the entire time I have been running from fear, looking for happiness and contentment, Jesus has been Here, waiting, holding the key in his hand, being the very key in and of himself.

The Lord (YHWH) will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Fear loses its power and every anxiety shatters in the face of YHWH, because there is nothing in this universe that holds its power under his all-pervading reign.

The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Again, why do I let fear grip me? The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-pervading God is in my very soul, the innermost part of my being. How can I begin to worry what others may think or say about me? He is my comfort and reward, he is the source of my joy. Fear doesn’t stand a chance.

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.

I am not a good person. I am not wise. Jesus doesn’t ask me for this, though.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jesus doesn’t expect me to stand up to my fear; he knows I can’t do that on my own. I’m weak, I doubt him, I doubt his love for me. But he has the power to banish fear. Jesus doesn’t expect me to be a paragon of joy. He knows that, without him, I will revert to a twisted, contented depression, devoid of light. But with him, my heart can be happy, and my spirit contented in him. This is how he casts out fear, bringing the light of his joy.

**Scripture quotations are from the NIV, emphasis added. Shared here are the passages Exodus 14:14, John 14:26-27, Matthew 6:34, Matthew 11:29-30. For more on Matthew 11:28-30, see Anchors: an exploration of self-love, toxic people, and Jesus. [Pronouns reffering to diety are purposefully left uncapatalized, as this may sometimes be a meaningless ritual, and in place of this sign of respect for the Godhead, other linguistic changes are often mindfully used.]

*[Words in brackets were added 3/28/18 at 5:12pm.]


Stressed Out?

We are nearing the end of a school year and a long season of busyness. This is leaving many of us sleep-deprived, stressed, and even depressed about a variety of things. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. You don’t have adequate rest.
  2. You aren’t enjoying moments.
  3. You aren’t getting enough sleep.

(Yes, sleep and rest are two very different things, and we need both to live calm lives.)

Here are several ways you can de-stress your life as we approach a new season, starting with obvious ideas and going into deeper strategies.

1. Get some sleep.

Yes, you need it, and coffee won’t solve all your problems for you. Our society seems to be tired all the timeand it isn’t healthy. Tonight, try beginning your “going to sleep” routine a little earlier. Tidy up your room, lie in bed and read something, and let yourself calm down.

2. Slow down.

Stop rushing. Plan ahead. Do some things slowly. Think about what you’re doing. Think about your life. Think outside of your life. 

3. Pray.

Let it out. Tell God. Your prayer life doesn’t have to be all about asking God, you can just tell Him things sometimes. Explain how you feel and why you feel it. Ask Him to help you.

4. Talk to someone.

Call up a friend. Text someone. FaceTime your family. Just please, don’t post something depressing on Facebook. Find people you can unload on, and let them unload on you. Talk things out together.

5. Take a walk.

When’s the last time you took a walk, and it wasn’t to get somewhere? If your answer is yesterday or today, you probably don’t need to hear this. But if you can’t think of the last time, then just go! Listen to nature or the cars or whatever you hear outside. Use it as time to think through things.

6. Read a book.

Have you ever felt like reading a book took you out of your own situation? That may just be what you need right now. I don’t think it’s healthy to run from your life or your problems, but it’s certainly helpful to take a break now and then. (Here’s a shameless plug for you: if you’re looking for reading material, my book The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert comes out in August – hopefully. Here’s an update on it.)

7. Do nothing.

Just sit for a few seconds and hit pause. You might be surprised how much you need it.



time – this word evokes so much despair in my young soul. i feel with every cell, every farandolae in my being, that it is a box of sand (a different size box for every person) being poured through your hands. you can try to catch it. you can try to hold on to it. you can create a whole system of pipes and conveyer belts to keep it as long as you can, but ultimately, the sand can run out and you’re gone, all your special systems fall down as you cry out in despair.

i hate watches and clocks and every other instrument made to teach you, to drone through your skull that you. are. passing. away. slowly. it makes me shiver to see the secondhand skipping gleefully along each number, it makes me look away.

everyone is on a different chapter on their table of contents. you don’t know if a plot twist is coming up, or a tragic ending. you don’t know how long your book is gonna be.

and don’t get me wrong, i’m not trying to get preachy and tell you how you need to spend your … sand … wisely. although that is true. i’m just pouring out from my heart.

don’t get busy (another word i hate) and forget that you only have so much sand. often, i want to shake people and yell “you are spending all your sand on something you don’t even like!” don’t run around fulfilling obligations and going to school and playing sports; actually sit down and decide what you are going to do with the sand you have left – as much or as little as that ends up being. don’t get to your last year of life and say “well it was fun doing tasks for that one person i couldn’t say no to and reading that one series all my friends were reading and watching that one show i thought was funny and playing that one sport that broke my leg in the fifth grade…”

get out and do something before the last grain falls!

5×5: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When You are Distressed

Now and then, I have days where I’m just down. Sometimes it’s because I’m stressed out, sometimes it’s because I haven’t gotten enough sleep, and sometimes it’s just because of the weather. So I created this list of questions to ask myself when I’m feeling down. Read More

5×5: 5 Sources of Joy in God/How to Not Be Sad

Lots of people feel depressed these days. I am a very “rollercoaster emotions” kind of guy, and I’ve definitely had seasons of feeling blue. But I’ve also had seasons of joy. Here are five biblical cures for depression/sadness/bad feelings. Read More