When I step into a new year, I put my fears on trial. I have to embrace the ability of Jesus as my advocate to bring me further along in what’s true. I want to feel more courage around following him instead of following my fears.
Maybe you spent a lot of the last year asking these questions too: Am I safe in this relationship, safe to create, safe to walk outside, safe to share my opinion, safe in this body, safe to trust someone, safe to speak up, safe to try, safe to serve? And maybe you spent a good deal of time avoiding what you know God created you to do or be because of the fears wrapped up in insecurity. I’ve lived in that state of avoidance—in a den of lies, hoping the lies would keep me safer than the truth would. The problem is that they never do.
When we were still babies, we discovered that the world has an order (or a strange and scary disorder). If we do one thing, it can easily result in another. We observe the cause and effect and then work to avoid the situations that result in undesirable consequences. It’s great for development and for keeping us all alive through our toddler years. But it can hold us back if we use the same habits for our faith and our responses to the world around us.
Safety is good. But when we guard it like it’s our only hope, we suffer as hostages held back by the fear of pain. Fiercely guarding our own safety can be tragic because the lies we begin to tell (the opposite of the honest hearts we long to have) hold the power to dismantle relationships and the ability to dismiss entire needs and people groups. We slowly begin to dismiss the thought or the nudge that begs us to lean into others. We avoid conversations. We remain silent even when we know it could help if we spoke or stood up or began to walk in our own freedom.
We know how badly it hurts. We’ve been lied to before or dismissed in silence. And, unfortunately, we’ve done these things to others too. Then we do what we do to avoid the pain. None of us would choose this. Yet, we do. We choose it in fear. And the lies form with words, but they more often form within silence.
Lies form when we are so afraid of what could happen to us that we ignore an injustice we see happening to someone else. Lies form when we are afraid to have difficult conversations. Lies form when we sense that something important to us could be taken away. Lies form when we forget how valuable we are and how valuable others are. Usually a necessary narrative isn’t being told, and a false narrative is given space to roll in like a fog, weighing heavy on our minds and our hearts, so powerful that we mistake the lie for the truth.
No one can respond to all the world’s pain, but all have a person or a story or a bit of injustice so close to us we could touch it. It is possible it could have broken your heart once. But the fears say, “It’ll go away, keep going, don’t pay attention, you’re not needed here.” The enormity of a problem and the pain of our fears usually lead us to our first lie: There’s nothing I can do. It’s a lie we choose because we’re not sure what life could look like if we lived empowered, chosen, and holy—set apart with new eyes, ears, and responses to the world around us. It feels scary to live so bravely. So we commit to what we know for sure, and faith is left without a chance to help us with what’s harder.
Jesus is our precedent for choosing good even if it seems like it’s not making a difference.
Some of our hearts believe there is good we can do, but we offer up another backup lie that loops on repeat: Even if I do what I know I can do, what good will it bring? Can you imagine if this had been the mindset of Jesus? He is our example of what it looks like to live and respond to a world with compassion. He chose to walk in solidarity with enormously problematic people (us). Sin left its mark on humanity, and when he was given the daunting task of restoring creation through a reconciling and sacrificial relationship, he sighed a humble yes, knowing that even when he accomplished his task and made a way, not everyone would choose that way. Jesus is our precedent for choosing good even if it seems like it’s not making a difference.
No one created was created for nothing. Lord, give us honest hearts to believe this truth today. What you have to bring is valuable. God changed your life so you could change the world around you. God changed our lives for us to speak, to move, and even to fail—because grace is real, and it never ends.
If you know Jesus, love and justice will flow out of you. When you see signs of that flow, it’s time to follow.
What if we resolved this New Year to put to death our irrational fears and insecurities that keep us tied up in lies? The truth is that you were born to make a difference. Maybe you see opportunity, but you’re not sure what to do. Ask God: Will you break my heart for something important to you? God will give you a story and a step to take.
I have hope that our relationship with Jesus will help us feel safe in the messy and difficult spaces. I hope that our relationship with Jesus can give us the courage to be honest about who we are and what we were born to be.
Jesus, un-teach us the things that hinder us from saying yes to the needs that are right in front of us. Help us to courageously choose honest hearts this year.