When I was small

even smaller than this

all smiles, fine hair, and freckles.

I lived in a room with my little sis.

 

In that room was a window

looking out on an old maple tree bigger than God

whose leaves made me feel free enough to sing

at the top of my lungs.

 

But on the opposite side of my room hung a door

a wooden shutter, slatted and white

and that door haunted us every single night.

 

You remember those cracked closet doors,

that fear of childhood, right?

Well, mine was more evil than most

a shutter-door with one missing shingle

a pitch black rectangle of terror

waiting to host the glowing eyes of some child-eating monster

with a taste for freckles.

 

And with these thoughts, came FEAR.

Fear that freezes your bones

that makes your body turn to stone

on the inside but never enough on the outside.

Fear that takes today as ransom

for a kidnapped tomorrow that will never come home.

 

So after months of sleepless nights

I could not hide any longer.

I did the most courageous thing of my little life

I moved in with my monsters.

 

In a flurry of determination

I grabbed my pillows and blankets and books

a flashlight and my sister

and we moved into that dark closet.

 

Slept there every single night

and not ONE monster was ever brave enough to show His face.

 

This is when I learned:

Fear is a lion

that only backs down

when we stop acting like prey

and stand our ground.

 

But we do grow up

and the monsters

get darker and smarter

and the next thing we know

we are running much harder.

No longer daring to face down our fears but away

from the beasts who will swallow us whole

who make closets that scare our very souls.

Monsters: like betrayal, hair loss, loneliness, and grief

failure, sprained ankles, botched interviews, and spinach in our teeth

at just the worst times.

 

I am afraid of things changing.

I’m afraid they’ll stay the same.

of saying something stupid

of being the one to blame

 

of the pain that will come when I grow old

and the pain that will come if I don’t.

 

And so they chase and I run.

I survive but I have not won

the kind of life I’d hoped I’d earned

when I first faced my monsters.

 

And then I hear it

the sound of safety in my ears:

Fear is a lion

that only backs down

when we stop acting like prey

and stand our ground.

 

I hear a voice not my own say,

“You are not alone, child.

You never were.

Be still. Take heart.

Plant your feet on the ground.

At the sound of my voice know that you are free.

I am bigger than any tree.

Stand with me.”

 

And together we turn and face those beasts,

say, “Hello there monsters…

Either be my friend or eat me or get out of my way.

I have sunsets to see and a man to kiss

and I was made for so much more than this.

I’m taking back my tomorrows.

You don’t get my todays.

This is my one and only life.

I will not be anyone’s prey.

So, instead, I will stand my ground and say,

Hello there monsters. Let’s play.”

 

Watch a live performance:

(God also wanted me to feel good about myself, this is an awesome frozen frame of me talking)

Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!” Isaiah 35:4-10