In this week’s post:
1. Facing Our Fears
2. Virtual tour of my phototography show.
Last Saturday night, I was up on my building’s rooftop patio having a great conversation with a friend when a group of college-aged guys made their entrance. They weren’t obnoxious at all, but obviously they had been having a good time. I started chatting with one of the guys who I knew and then one of his friends came over.
He teetered a bit, and while trying to look me in the eye, he asked: “What advice would you give a young person like me?”
My first thought was, “Boy, my grey hair must really make me look like a person with some… uh, experience…?” My next thought was how cool it was that this guy was humble enough to seek wisdom from someone he didn’t even know.
I didn’t want to just blurt something out. Maybe this question was for me, as much as it was for him (and who knows if he’d even remember what I said!). I sat silent for a minute. Then I started in…
I’ve lived most all of my life trying to make everybody around me happy. And it’s mostly worked. But I’ve been so afraid of losing the acceptance of others that I’ve neglected ever knowing what it would mean to make myself happy. So instead of wasting all your life trying to please other people, be brave and figure out how to make yourself happy. You’ll never regret it.
I’m not sure if that was the best answer, but it was definitely an answer. And it made me want to think more about the question. I even brought the question to my Facebook page and got some real good answers - here are a few of my favs:
(which are already publicly displayed so I can’t imagine any problem posting them here)
Phil said: “Enjoy the now and remember fear is usually just a vapor.”
Matt said: “The stakes are never as high as we think they are.”
Missy J. said: “Worry less about what others think.”
Hannah said: “Don’t limit yourself before you are given limitations.”
Pam said: “No one is paying as much attention to you as you think they are, so just go for it.”
Missy H. said: “Most things we worry about never happen.”
Ann said: “Fear nothing in my way.”
Can you sense a theme? Don’t be afraid! is what jumps out at me.
What would your life be like if you didn’t worry about what might happen? Or if you didn’t obsess about what other people might think? What would your life look like if you were fearless?
Is it even possible to conquer fear? I know it is.
I faced my life’s biggest fear this summer and it was beautiful, messy, and ultimately life-giving. Yes, it was huge. But the victory isn’t that I faced my fear and I emerged unscathed. For me, one of the best gifts I received from the experience is the increased self-worth I’m now able to claim, knowing that fear doesn’t have to control me.
Fear has no place in me, Your love has set me free!
No matter what comes my way, I know I can be brave!
from my song “Brave” - listen on Spotify - Apple Music - YouTube
Have you ever done something super scary, only afterwards to say, “Oh that wasn’t so bad”— leaving you wondering why you let that imaginary lion take up so much space in your brain for so many years? Me too.
Of course, I had reasons why this particular act of grand courage could only happen at this time, in this place. But the only way I was able to do it was to be so convinced that I am completely rooted in love. I know that I am unbelievably and unconditionally loved by God, as well as by many people close to me. With love as my foundation, I know I will always be okay, no matter what happens.
Whatever my lot, thou have taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul
Is there a big mountain standing in front of you, and you’re not sure if you can climb it? If you’re looking for a smidge of advice from a grey-haired, middle-aged person, lean in… The best way to climb your mountain is to simply take one step at a time. I normally can’t see all the steps I’m supposed to take, but God is usually gracious to show me the next one step to take.
You may be aware of the lion’s den you are about to enter. But many of us can also count the cost of not entering the lion’s den. And they might end up not even being lions at all, maybe just little kittens.
These are not days to live allowing differences and misunderstanding to hold precedence over love and grace in any of our relationships, especially if it’s simply our fear that’s keeping us apart.
In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes, “When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.”
I believe that God is asking us to enter into a season of deep reconciliation with people in our lives who we have become distant from. It might be someone across the country, or maybe even just across the living room. But it’s going to require us to be super duper brave. I believe in us.
I have been very brave over the years, choosing to live a very strange (and financially challenging) creative life for many years. I feel like I was brave when I led a small group of guys in prison on a weekly basis for 23 years in Nashville. I feel like I’m brave today when I choose to write a blog every week. I feel brave when I strike up a conversation with a stranger while on my morning walk. I feel brave when I choose to look at the world through a lens of hope, rather than cynicism.
Let’s be willing to courageously step into the chaos and uncertainty of the world with a bold desire to add an extra dose of love and hope into the lives of everyone we meet.
Being brave doesn’t make everything easier. But it helps keep me in proper perspective. When I’m living in fear, the dragon is in charge. My God is bigger than any dragon, and when I’m fueled by love, with nothing to prove and nothing to lose, I am stronger than I ever imagined.
And I can’t wait for my next adventure.
If you’d like to read a novella (a short fiction book that’s almost like a fable, but probably should be an animated Disney movie) that I wrote about deciding to climb the figurative mountain that’s in front of you—even if everyone around you thinks you’re crazy, please check out The Messenger: A Journey Into Hope or its companion CD project. I have a ton of both sitting in my closet just to my left.
One of the ways I’ve been super brave recently is through my photography. This past Friday night’s reception for the opening of my first ever photography show was a success. So many people stopped by to offer their love and support and eat delicious treats made by my friend Zack. I love how photography is allowing me to have some really cool conversations with people. I want to use my photography to courageously and creatively reveal the beauty that is in each of us—and in this particular case, my friend, Paul. And I made a little video for you…walking you through the show. Enjoy!
Connect with me on Instagram where I post most of my photos!
Did you get to read last week’s post called “Sadness?” It’s one of the most popular ones I’ve posted — read it here!
I climbed a very high mountain today, walked into the arena and walked out the other side and I'm still breathing. PTL!! Loved the photo show.