Let down your guard, and it will steal your heart. There’s no thief like fear. –Jason Gray, “No Thief Like Fear”
Am I really living? Or am I just existing, hiding away? The world is full of danger. But if I never try to go outside my heart will waste away. -J.J. Heller, “Save Me”
I woke up yesterday morning thinking about the usual things, but a quick check of my Facebook news feed changed all of that. My quiet morning was bombarded with the noise of overnight happenings. A shooting rampage in a movie theater. Twelve people were killed…dozens more wounded. Then there was the local news of a shooting downtown…another story of a five year old girl dying of cancer… By the time my daughter came downstairs dragging her blanket and embracing her stuffed Goofy doll, I was near despair.
Too much bad news. Too much scary stuff. Too many bad influences and too many things to protect her from. There’s too much. Just too much stuff out there.
I’d already been dealing with this all-permeating anxiety to some degree. At different times recently, my three year old has seen or heard things that I would never want her to be exposed to: violence on television, foul language, crude sexual references (which, thankfully, she doesn’t recognize as such…but that still fall on her pure ears with all the unsolicited cruelty of a schoolyard bully). I’ve been reminded too many times lately that this world is not a friendly place in far too many ways. That reminder, unfortunately, calls to mind my all-too-familiar tendency of hiding. I want to curl up into a ball and never leave my house. I want to hurl our television into the street and close the curtains and let my little girl remain in the ignorance and innocence of childhood. I want to hide from all of the fear-inducing culprits and shield her from all that could produce the same feelings within her little heart.
But what would that accomplish?
Taking that easy route would only make it easier for me to continue hiding. Anxiety about the outside world is never cured by isolation, and my imagination would likely do far worse things than the truth could ever do.
And what would it accomplish for my little girl? Teach her that the world is a bad place? That people are evil and impossible to love? That her role as a follower of Christ is to isolate herself from all bad things in the world?
“Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine…” she sings, convicting me to my core. This light we’ve been given……it shines brightly in the small space of our own home, but thrives on the wide expanse of the outside world. A city on a hill…a lamp on a stand…this light is meant to shine.
If what we profess in Jesus is to be more than lip-service to a cool idea, it seems like we have little choice. We have to fling the curtains open, greeting the outside world with a smile and love and peace that surpasses anything we could explain. We have to leave the house, knowing full well that there are awful things happening in that great big world out there but that we are called beyond fear into love.
This is hard. It’s scary. It’s uncertain and will probably hurt. What we cling to, though, is that love overcomes. We cling to that and move forward. My daughter and myself and all of us. We have light inside us, and the world desperately needs to see it shine.