I know we’ve been in cahoots for a long time now. I think we met some time ago in the 1980s when you crept into my life. You told me, I was just seven, “don’t take stickers from strangers, you’ll be drugged.” You said “watch out for that guy, he’ll steal you away.” You said, “that dog that attacked your dog? There’s one around every corner waiting to eat you up.”
You told me cool kids were always watching to see if I messed up, what I wore, how my hair looked.
You warned that everyone would see my adolescent acne and judge me for it.
You told me my city was full of murderers.
Now many years later, you rear your head in more subtle ways. You tell me lies about my children. You whisper that no one can keep them safe but me, while making sure I believe I’m in control.
You tell me danger is around a lot of corners often in the form of other drivers.
You multiply your efforts on my need for approval…for everyone to like me.
But you don’t stop with me. You keep going.
You tell my friends that they are not good enough mothers. You tell them they’ve somehow messed their children up forever with one bad day or a schedule gone awry.
You keep them up at night worried about marriage or singleness or emotions or friendships.
You tell them they’ll lose the babies growing in their bellies. You tell them they’ll never have more.
That you’ll attack their health and steal their husbands. Or never bring them love.
You are subtle. You play to our insecurities. You know what to do to take us down.
You tell families they can’t be authentic even with one another, because “if they really saw me, knew me…would they still love me? Would they leave?” You tell them that being strong is better than being vulnerable. And you scare them into grieving alone.
You’ve given the Church the gift of rules and legalism. Shackling their feet while selling salvation.
And when you pin us against the mat, when you think you’ve defeated us, you teach us to hate that which we do not know. That which we cannot see or understand. You tell us the future is bleak. You tell us that anyone “other”is our enemy. You seclude us with our own and deepen your hold. You dig pits in our stomachs and fill them with emptiness.
And we believe in you instead of God.
Today we tell you NO! You can’t have me. And you can’t have my friends.
Today we remind ourselves that we have a Good God. You cannot co-exist with our God. Today we replace you with joy and thankfulness and prayer. Today we will focus on the noble, the right, the pure, the lovely, the admirable. While the world seems to spin around us, we won’t let you shake us. We will lean on a peace that surpasses understanding. Today we know the salvation is free and not earned. Today we will be real and embrace the messy because our God has redeemed us already. Today we will win. And tomorrow, when you get your bag of tricks out again, we will keep fighting. Because you, FEAR, are always the enemy and never our foe.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 6-9 (NIV)