When Fear is Knocking…

“When fear knocks, hope goes to answer and faith is at the door.”

I work with adults trying to earn their GED/HSE (many of whom struggle with some sort of disability) or adults learning English as a second language. One student in particular has gone through a lifetime of trauma that has left her struggling to get back on her feet but has also left her with a lot of wisdom. While we were finishing up a poetry lesson, she began talking about her journey and sharing things she does to stay grounded and get through each day and this quote was one thing she brought up, after hearing it recently at a Bible study:

When Fear knocks, Hope goes to answer and Faith is at the door.”

Ever since then, it has completely consumed my mind.

When Fear knocks, Hope goes to answer and Faith is at the door.”

We all feel fear – that’s undeniable. But the level of fear we each go through is different and particular to every person and every situation. Sometimes fear is simply knocking on your door, giving you the opportunity to answer and send it away. But other times it’s whispering through the walls, making its presence known but refusing to be found. Or, maybe it’s stomping on the ceilings, causing the pounding in your head to match the pounding on the roof while always staying just out of reach. Regardless of where the fear is or what it’s doing, it’s there. So, what can you do?

Do you fight it?

Do you send your dog to the door to scare it away?

Do you drill nails in the wall to shut it up?

Do you hit the ceiling with a broom to knock it off?

How do you get rid of fear?

Easy – you use Hope.

There are a lot of things I’m afraid of. I’m afraid about relationships falling through. I’m afraid of jobs not working out. I’m even afraid of completely ridiculous things that have literally no explanation, like hyenas. Regardless of what I’m afraid of, the fear is there. And I’d be willing to bet that you have your own fears, too (some more rational than others). Sometimes the fear can be overwhelming – I know the fear is irrational but for some reason I can’t seem to shake it. But then I remember my trusty friend: Hope.

Hope doesn’t care about rationality because Hope itself isn’t always rational.

Twice a week I work with one student in teaching him English. When I first met him, he was incredibly shy and lacked confidence in his knowledge. Most of the time I asked him a question, he answered, “I don’t know,” and waited for me to give him the answer because he was afraid of being wrong. But lately, I will ask him a question and he’ll say, “I don’t know, but okay,” and tries because he hopes he is right. And ladies and gentlemen, that is the answer to defeating fear.

You don’t have to know. You don’t have to understand. You just have to fight one unknowing and irrational thing (fear) with another, better unknowing and irrational thing (hope).

Faith itself is scary, but don’t let it disguise itself as something that it’s not. Send Hope to the door and watch as what you thought was Fear transforms itself into something positive – something scary but for all the right reasons: Faith.

Grace

My mom and I have this thing where we say to each other a line from the song Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol – “I need your grace to remind me to find my own,” it says. Almost every time I’m home or if one of us is going through a rough time, we lay on the cold kitchen floor and play this song as loud as it can go – one or both of us crying but feeling peace as this line flows from the speakers. In times where I’m feeling particularly down, this phrase is almost always guranteed to cross the depths of my mind and make its way to my heart. In each low point of my life, before I even know it, I’m longing for grace.

When I was younger, my mom used to joke around saying she should have named me Grace because of how clumsy or, better yet, ungraceful, I could be. It’s funny how that word has taken on a new meaning to us now.

Grace can mean a lot of things. It can mean elegance, goodwill, blessing, prayer, etc. With all the different meanings it possesses, I could ask for grace a thousand different times over and still ask for something new each time. The one thing that stays the same, though, no matter who I’m asking, be it my mom, God, or anyone else, the point is that I’m asking for something that I lack – I’m asking for a reminder or a renewal of something I am in need of.

I’m at this point in my life where I need grace from everyone around me, everything within me, and my God above me. I need grace because I know I have fallen short a thousand and one times, but I will always try to do right by that. I need grace because I am far from perfect, but I am looking for perfection in everything I find. I need grace not because I deserve it, but because I don’t deserve it. I need grace so I can better learn to give it.

I need grace to be reminded of the grace I already have.

Intentionality

Intentionality – the fact of being deliberate or purposive. (Google Definition)

Intention – a determination to act in a certain way (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Not long ago I had an interview for a position as an orientation leader for my university for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. The interview was very laid back and consisted of three parts: an impromptu speech, a group activity, and a one-on-one interview. We rotated in groups and I just so happened to be one of the last people to take part in the one-on-one interviews. While I was waiting for my turn to go in I was thinking about my transition into college and what advice I would offer first-year students based off of my own experiences. This wasn’t my first time thinking about this, but I figured giving it some extra thought might be helpful considering there was a very good chance I would be asked a similar question. Luckily for me, that was one of the very first questions I was asked.

At first I wasn’t sure. There is a lot I would want to tell a person making such a large life transition, and a lot that I wish I would have known, but nothing I was thinking of seemed good enough. But then I remembered a quote that I had read in The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst: “Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.” I have this quote written on my calendar in my dorm, and beneath it, in bold letters, I have written, “BE INTENTIONAL.” So, when the interviewer asked me what advice I would offer a new student, I said that I would tell them to be intentional with their choices. It will be so tempting and easy to do what you want without putting much thought into your decisions because you finally have that extra freedom you never had before… I mean, you’re in college, right? But only so much time will pass before you realize that these decisions you’re making aren’t paying off in the way that you hoped they would.

As I was talking to the interviewer, I felt as if I were giving myself advice more than anything. I dedicate a lot of time and energy doing things that I know (or at least hope) will put me closer to a goal that I hope to achieve. Being intentional with my choices can be really easy when it comes to large scale decisions, but what about the smaller things that I do with little thought? Things such as the way I communicate with others, the music that I listen to, or even the people that I surround myself with seem to happen automatically, but maybe they shouldn’t.

A few days ago I asked a friend how you can know if you’re on the path that God laid out for you and she said that as long as you’re being intentional and praying about all aspects of your life – big or small – you’re on the right track.

Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances, but each day is full of thousands of choices… how intentional are you being with yours?

It is well

When I was in high school I was very active in band and choir. I played clarinet for roughly seven years and I sang in the choir for two. In my time in the music department, I’ve heard and played a lot of songs that have spoken to me on a level that can only be reached by music or literature. However, no piece has touched me more than “On a Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss” by David Holsinger. If you have ever heard the phrase, be it in song or poem, “it is well with my soul,” this song is inspired from the story behind that phrase.

In the late-1800’s, a man was planning a trip for he and his family to go to Europe. Right before the time of departure, the man was needed in Chicago and had to stay in the states to take care of some business, but he decided to send his wife and daughters on the ship to Europe as planned and he would follow them later on. However, after a few days, the man received a phone call from his wife who had landed in Europe informing him that the boat had been struck during its journey and sank within minutes – only she and a few survivors had made their way safety, his daughters not being a part of that few. Soon after, the man got on another ship to join his wife.

The story goes that as the ship was sailing overseas near the point where his daughters had drowned, the man was overcome with grief but turned to God. Here he was, in the midst of heartache and despair, turning upwards to God and saying, “When peace like a river attendth my way / when sorrows like sea-billows roll / whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to know; / it is well, it is well with my soul.”

I played this piece at least once a year for three years in a row, and every time I played it I found myself in tears. There’s something unbelievably powerful about a faith so strong that it can give you peace at a time where peace seems unthinkable. I know everyone goes through heartache and they experience pain on different levels than the ones around them, but how often, in the midst of that hurt, can you remember turning to God and thinking that it is well with your soul? For three years now, this song, this poem, and this story, are a constant reminder to me that while trials may come and hardship will bear it’s way into my life, I know I will always be reassured of God’s support in my helpless state and it will always, always, be well with my soul.

Seasons

Were taught that there are seasons

Like winter

Summer

Fall

And spring

We’re told that we should love them

Because of the wonders that they bring

Winter brings cold

With snow that gleams and shines

While Summer brings the heat

From a sun that feels so fine

Fall brings cozy sweaters

And kids in costume on Halloween

Then spring brings a breath of life

And opens our eyes to the beauty that should be seen

There are seasons of our life

Like there are seasons of the earth

The seasons of our lives

Are unpredictable from birth

We can only guess

What season we’re in

Be it winter, summer, spring, or fall

But they each bring some clarity

To help us understand

The purpose behind our call

I do not know

What season I’m in

And I could probably never tell you

When it started or when it will end

But I have learned to laugh

And I have learned to dream

I have learned to appreciate

The little things

But after all I have learned

Be it good or bad

Learning to love

Is a skill that I lack

I know what Love is

And I know that it’s there

And I know my heart is full of it

Ready to be shared

But perhaps I am in winter

Or maybe even fall

A season where life is waiting

And beauty will soon cover all

I am not sad about this

Because I know the breath will come

And just like the warmer season

Life will flourish under the sun

I feel the heat already

And I can see the beauty coming near

But for now I will enjoy the season I’m in

Because I know God’s timing will be clear