Saturday, December 24, 2016

Do Not Be Afraid

That word kept coming to the forefront of my mind during the fall semester of this year. 
I'm not brave. 
I have the appearance of bravery, not because I am brave, but because I'm a New Yorker. 
There is a difference between stoicism, bravado and bravery. 
I was about three or four when my mom got sick. 
My parents made the decision not to tell us that she had cancer.  
She had Hodgkin disease which, even at the time, was treatable. 
She lost her hair and she spent hours in bed. 
She went into remission but the cancer returned and she died when I was 10.

Children are extremely intelligent beings and can pick up on the undertones going on around them. 
They may not know what is going on but they "know" what is going on and their little imaginations can come up with scenarios far worse than the truth told in measures appropriate for a child. 
I don't blame my parents. They were honestly doing the best they could given the sucky situation they were in. 

Growing up with an undercurrent of fear is a long, lasting deterrent to peace, joy, a sense of safety, and bravery. 
I was struggling with feelings of panic and helplessness when this song came on the radio
Does that happen to you? 
Nothing speaks to my soul quite like music. 
I binge listened to it for the next few days. 
Additionally, the same truth kept popping up in random places over the course of the next few months. 
This is often how the Lord wants to get something through my thick skull. 

When the angel, Gabriel,  came to Mary, he told her not to be afraid.

"The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God."
Luke 1:28

With troublesome greetings comes the admonition not to be afraid.

Once Jesus was born, 

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'" 

I have a student in my class. 
He adores super heroes, particularly Star Wars. 
We spend a lot of time learning how to walk in a line when we leave the classroom. 
I noticed that he takes his responsibility as line leader very seriously. 
When he leads our line, he gets his head in the game by engaging in super hero moves. 
He looks like he is leading us into battle each and every time we leave the room under his leadership. 
It is the cutest thing. 
I thought about this when I was telling my littles the story of Jesus' birth. 
We have angels appearing, Mary and the shepherds are told,
Why is that?  

Angels aren't the wimpy things we see depicted on our Christmas trees. 
They are God's messengers and warriors. I imagine that when they showed up it was terrifying.
They are the great super heroes.
To me, this is one of the grand and often overlooked truths of the Christmas story.
It is reported that this truth appears 365 times in the Bible.
I'm not sure if that is an accurate count but I do know that it is an often reoccurring theme.

Jesus walks on water - "Don't be afraid."
Angels appear at the tomb - "Don't be afraid."
"Fear not!"
"Take courage."
There is a lot to be afraid of in this world.
In my own life there are times when I need to cling to this certainty.
I tend to cherub-ize angels instead of remembering that they are mighty beings sent to convey God's powerful message.

As I thought about my little student and how he leads us into battle when we walk out of our classroom,  I thought of the song.  "Onward, Christian Soldiers."
I didn't feel like a Christian soldier, in fact, I wondered when that idea fell by the wayside.
I wasn't brave.
I was afraid to speak out about certain things.
 I've taken steps to be a little braver and show just a little more courage.
I've reminded myself that God is in control.
He protected that little baby in a manger when there was an angry king in pursuit.

This is still a work in progress for me.
There is a lot of baggage.
I look back over the course of my life and I see the times when I was fearful and I see how the Lord sustained me and gave me courage.

I think of that heavenly host in the sky, the stars all around, the meek and lowly shepherds, a mother and father uncertain for their child's future, a king after blood, dreams, visions, wisemen and angels and that babe in a manger.
What an unlikely story.
What a cast of characters.
The vulnerability of that child.
God had that and He has got this.
Whatever it is.
He's got it.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, my precious friends.


  1. Oh dear Katie ~ This has brought tears to my eyes, but joy to my heart. We have God's mighty angels surrounding us at all times, and He Himself has promised to never leave or forsake us. Let us 'be not afraid'. Immanuel, our God is with us.

    Thank you for this wonderful post filled with truth, hope, encouragement and love.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

  2. I don't think I'm very brave myself

  3. Your sweet post warmed my heart. Funny how people on the inside are different than people appear to be Katie. My childhood was less than perfect and even tonight, on Christmas Eve, we are dealing with the disfunction of a far younger brother and the impact of his actions on our mother. I will keep your words in my heart as we deal with his impact of his stupidity. May you enjoy this Christmas and have a very Happy New Year.

    1. You have touched my heart. Try to remember "This too shall pass"
      I said recently that drunks and drug addicts seem to mess up every holiday and special occasion for their family and friends. Yet they make it your fault.
      Merry Christmas to you and those you love.

  4. Thank you for posting. All we need is faith as a grain of mustard seed.
    Merry Christmas to all.

  5. Katie,
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Looking forward to our continued friendship and to reading more Let's Add Sprinkles in 2017.


  6. This post is beautifully written, Katie. I think of our grandchildren who are at the age you were when your mother first got sick and my heart breaks for "little Katie". I do believe your strong faith helped you get through all the curves life has thrown your way, and will continue to help you in the days to come.

    I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas!