Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

For many people, fear is a familiar face. 

It’s the thing that we feel deep down as we step out of our comfort zone. The feeling that we get when we go up on stage to sing or give a speech. The worry that plagues us as we talk to someone new. It’s likely something different for all of us, but regardless of the specifics, there’s something that we all have in common.

We all struggle with fear in some capacity. 

Maybe not on a daily basis. And maybe we don’t experience it to a crippling degree. But, if we’re honest, we’re all afraid of something. And whatever it is, I believe that it’s something that we can overcome. I believe that we all have the capacity to move past the grips of fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” God doesn’t want us to live our lives out of fear. He wants us to have peace, to trust Him, and live courageously and confidently through His power within us.

I’m going to be honest, fear is something that has often been a stumbling block in my own life. I touched on this a couple of posts back, in my post about vulnerability. It’s a real struggle for me to open up to people, and let people in. I consider people who open up with ease to be some of the bravest people I know, because it’s one of the things that I struggle the most with. But lately, God has been helping me overcome this. He’s been helping me learn to break down my wall. To let people in and trust that they won’t let me down.

Maybe for you, fear looks a little different. Maybe it’s a fear of public speaking, or of talking to someone you don’t know. Maybe it’s a fear of the future, or of the unknown. Whatever it is, God already knows about it. He sees you and loves you in the midst of it.He’s not disappointed in you for having fears—but as our Heavenly Father, He wants us to have peace and joy. He wants us to lay down our fears before Him and trust that He’ll trade those fears for joy. He wants us to learn day-by-day how to live confidently in Christ. 

Here’s the thing guys, we’ll never be able to live out the fullness of the plans that God has for us if we remain trapped in the prison of fear. God calls us to be bold, and boldness can only really happen when we lay down our fears at the foot of the cross. He wants to use us for big things—and oftentimes, that means stepping outside of our comfort zone, and daring to be uncomfortable. These are the times when we bring what have, and God brings the rest. He will never bring us to something too hard for us to accomplish. In the words of Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

This week, I want to challenge you to live fearlessly.

To embrace the fullness of God’s plans for you.

To live boldly, to love fully, and to be the change right where you are.

Dare to be fearless; embracing the freedom found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in Whom we find our strength, power, and perfect peace. 

New Beginnings

There’s no denying it, the new school year is right around the corner. I start back in less than a week and I’ve already gone back to school shopping for clothes and school supplies. As the new school year begins, it often brings about changes. As crazy as it still sounds, I have two friends who are going to be in college this year. For some people, this new school year might mean a transition from middle to high school, or like some of my friends, high school to college. For others, it might mean new goals or anticipations. I know that I personally have a couple of things planned this year, such as a talent show in October, a concert with one of my friends, and a new project that I’m planning to jumpstart next spring/summer. Plus, I’m going to be on the yearbook team and in a theater class again, which I’m excited about. Since this blog is about the new school year, it feels appropriate to give my advice about what I’ve learned so far

1. Stay true to yourself. Throughout my teenage years, I’ve seen so many awesome people try to be what they thought others wanted them to be. A cookie cutter version of you will never be better than the real deal. Making friends is important, but you want them to like you for who you are, not who you’re pretending to be. Acting is for the stage, not real life.

2. Do unto others…Bullying is a huge problem in America. I’ve dealt with bullies myself and I’ve seen my friends and classmates deal with it too. For whatever reason, some people always try to make themselves appear bigger by making others feel small. If you see someone being bullied, stand up for them. And, always think before you speak. Sometimes words carelessly thrown around can having lasting consequences.

3. Keep up with schoolwork. I remember how in my freshman year, I was shocked with how much more homework I got; It was a good deal more than I was used to in middle school. Nonetheless, I urge you not to panic. It’s difficult keeping on top of everything, but it does teach you the valuable lesson of time management. Honestly, I’m bad about procrastination. I know that this school year I’d like to try to get better about it. Even though I always get everything finished, it’s ten times more stressful when I procrastinate than it would have been if I had started earlier.

4. Spend time with those who build you up. One of the most difficult things about high school is finding true friends. There are some people in high school (and life) who are more self-interested than others-interested. At times, you may deal with unwelcome drama that will make you question whether you have any true friends, but hang in there. Just because you’ve had friendship problems with some people, doesn’t mean that all of your friends are like that. True friends are sometimes rare, but they do exist. I’ve found some great friends in high school and I trust that you will (or already have) too.

5. Don’t let fear hold you back. Now, obviously, there are some things we should fear. If you fear doing something dangerous, illegal, or harmful, hold on to that fear. It’s there for your own protection. Nonetheless, sometimes fear can also hold us back from good things. Don’t let fear stop you from trying a new hobby, pursuing a dream, talking to new people, or speaking out about something you believe in. In my theater class, before every performance, I always get a little jittery. However, the feeling afterwards is incredible, and acting is really fun. If I had let fear stop me, I would have missed out on a whole lot. I’ve decided that my theme for this upcoming year, is going to be fearless. There are things happening this year that I’ve worked towards for a long time, and I’m not going going to let fear rob me of those things. I urge you to not let fear hold you back either.

On a final note, always remember to trust God, be kind to others, stay true to yourself, and work hard. If you do those things, you can get through every change you’ll have to go through.