Tag: fear

Fight Back

On Monday night, I went to sleep with depression lurking in the corners of my room. I woke up Tuesday morning with melancholy breathing over my shoulder. As I hit snooze, as I scooped coffee grounds, as I sat down at my desk, as I opened the blinds to let the gloomy gray light in.

 

“What is the point?” it whispered savagely. “What does any of this matter? It doesn’t. It won’t help you now. Go back to bed. Settle into that hopeless place, Elizabeth. It’s the only place you have left to go.” I heard it seep through my tone in my meetings and conversations. My voice was heavy and my mind was coming up short searching for something, anything, positive. I opened Instagram mindlessly, only to scroll past every encouraging story or graphic. Not out of annoyance exactly. More like incapacity. I didn’t feel like I had space to hold a smile or a chirpy tone of voice or one more quippy version of HASHTAG WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER. The darkness loomed too large; there was just nowhere to put any light. 

 

I made a playlist a while back. It’s called “Remember Your Narrative Of Joy,” titled for a phrase from an Emily P. Freeman podcast episode I had listened to that week. She had talked about remembering the story arc of your whole life. That a chapter did not define a whole narrative. As believers, she gently reminded her listeners, ours is a narrative of joy. 

 

I wasn’t feeling particularly joyful at the time, but I knew I needed to act fast and find a way to remember my narrative. Thus the playlist. 

 

It’s not even a full hour of music. Twelve songs. Eleven to start with. I didn’t think too hard about it. It was a moment of desperation, and it’s difficult to to think critically in moments like those. I just threw in the first songs that came to mind when I asked the questions, “What calls something good out in me? What makes me smile? What will make me dance?”

 

A little voice reminded me of my playlist – made specifically to remind me of what’s true. “You should turn that on,” it whispered. “It will help.” But I don’t want help, I huffed. Like a petulant teenager, I shrugged the voice off. “I’m miserable; leave me alone in it.”

 

By 10:30AM, the living room which is currently functioning as my office was crowded with shadows, both literally and figuratively. Though I had turned on every light in the room and opened all the blinds before I set to work hours earlier, the dark skies and rain were hard to overcome with a few 40 watt bulbs. I needed more light.

 

Unable for the moment to focus on any task in front of me, I decided that it would be a good time to stretch my legs and go in search of another lamp. Somewhere in the process, it became a determined battle march. I came back in the room a few seconds later with a brighter lamp and a singular phrase rolling through my mind: 

 

“I’m going to fight back.”

 

The light clicked on with a roll of my thumb. A light came on in my chest and behind my eyes. The tide was turning, and I now held the upper hand in battle. I grabbed an unlit candle from a corner in the room and set it on my desk. “Heirloom Tomato” it was called. If I couldn’t go out in all this rain, I could very well make it smell like a garden inside. 

 

As I sat back in my seat to try it all again, I popped in my air pods and opened the playlist. Remember your narrative of joy, I told myself. My thumb hit the shuffle button and waited for the machine’s choice. The first notes of “Glorious Day” came jumping through the tiny speakers. I leaned back in the chair, breathing in the victory of the last five minutes. Everything changed because I decided I didn’t want to be bullied or dictated to by my fickle emotions or the bleakness of my present circumstances. I didn’t want to just lie down and take it. I wanted to fight back. So I did. 

 

About half an hour later, the sky brightened, lifting the whole room with it. It still rained heavily, but it wasn’t quite as dark. It felt like a beaming smile from a kind Father, a loving God. I think it felt like that because it was. 

 

“I needed rescue, my sin was heavy, but chains break at the weight of Your glory.

I needed shelter, I was an orphan, but You called me a citizen of Heaven.

When I was broken, You were my healing, now You love is the air that I’m breathing. 

I have a future, my eyes are open.”

 

With my open eyes. I saw leafy branches full for the first time in months. I saw a tiny firefighter walking with his dad, splashing in puddles. I saw birds and squirrels flitting through growing grass, trusting their Maker for the life they are living. I opened my front door and saw the rain calling out all the budding things, waking up sleeping life, softening hard ground. 

 

I saw all the things I would’ve missed with a downcast soul. For such a limited view, there is certainly a lot of goodness to be seen. Some days will be bigger battles than others, but in every one, I want to choose the fight. I want to rage against the dark that tries to creep in. To push it back with the great force of what is true. To swing my sword of truth with ferocity and wield my shield of faith with strength. All so I can see His goodness in the midst. 

 

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, for the help of His presence.”

-Psalm 42:5

 

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

-Jeremiah 31:25

Israel Part One: Welcome Back

When I arrived home from my world travels a few weeks ago, I was greeted cheerfully by my $10 doormat that reads cheekily, “Hello Gorgeous.”

I was not in that moment.

I was filthy with the grime of 20+ hours in airports, on planes, above oceans. I had spent an entire day in the company of thousands of other tired, gross voyagers, so I knew with certainty that my welcome mat was being intentionally hurtful.

But I didn’t really care, because I was home.

If you’re reading this and wondering where I’ve been recently, I’d point you to everywhere. July was all over the map. Truthfully, 2018 has been all over the map. I worried last week as I pulled up to the Nashville airport for the gazillionth time that they might start charging me rent.

But if you’re asking about the only trip that required my passport, I’d point you to a sliver of land between Jordan and Egypt.


I was offered the opportunity to join the team going to Israel less than twenty days before the departure date. A spot had opened up, and I had about three hours to decide if I wanted to take it.

Because I am who I am and old habits die incredibly hard and slow deaths, I began immediately thinking of all the reasons not to go. There was a whole crew of them but the one at the wheel, the captain at the helm of the ship, was a familiar face. Fear herself, barking orders to hoist the sail and ride the wind of doubt right on out of this idea.

It was risky.

I hadn’t seen an agenda after all, and if you don’t already know this about me, listen close: I DO NOT LIKE TO TRAVEL WITHOUT AN AGENDA.

It makes me crazy not to have the details typed neatly out in all the trip’s color-coded glory.

But I had no itinerary, no plan, no idea what was ahead of me. All I saw was a door swung wide open and an opportunity to walk through it. In a matter of hours, I had to decide if I was going to be brave enough to get on the plane.

The only option was a blind yes or no.


Do you know that feeling right after you decide to jump straight into the pool instead of easing into the water? The feeling of nervous anticipation? You know the water will be cold, a shock to your system. You know it will take your breath away and be a little uncomfortable the minute you hit the water. But you’ve already decided to jump. You’ve made the preliminary decision to be brave, and there’s no backing out now. All that’s left to do is close your eyes, hold your breath, and jump.

That’s how I felt when I arrived at the airport on our departure date. Completely out of control in the best way possible. I got on the plane (still) without a color-coded agenda and with only a handful of informational tidbits as to what the next two weeks would hold. But I had already decided to trust the Lord with this trip; now it was time to put my feet in the water, and watch Him fold the river back.


A few days before I left, I picked up a pen again. Not a metaphorical pen. A real one. My favorite actually—a Pilot G-2 07.

(Pilot, if you’re listening, give me a shout if y’all need a spokesperson. My supply is running low, and my sponsorship fee can be paid in pink and purple ink.)

Though I normally gravitate toward a keyboard, a blank Word doc, and a blinking cursor, I felt like I needed to remind myself of what it felt like to hold the instrument in my hand.

And the truth is, the blinking cursor had been taunting and intimidating me for months. I haven’t published anything since Christmas for a lot of different reasons: busyness with work, the aforementioned all-over-the-mapness, responsibilities, deadlines, etc. All valid and understandable, season-oriented reasons. But I’d be lying if I didn’t mention Fear as well. There’s always a persistent, low whisper in the back of my mind that wonders if I’ve run out.

Maybe the last creative thought I had was the last creative thought I’ll ever have. Maybe the last cohesive piece I wrote was the best it’ll ever be. Maybe the gift and joy of writing has run dry.

So the command to write has lived in perpetual purgatory on my to-do list for the last seven months. Some days, it barked bossily at me to get up and put some words on a page for crying out loud. Other days, it just looked mournfully up at me wondering what it had done wrong to make me desert it so completely.

But a few weeks ago, as I sat with my notebook in my lap and my pen in my hand, I began to remember some very important things. I began to remember how much I needed it. Watching the life-blood of my favorite pen run out behind my thoughts, I remembered that this was my best chance of untangling the knots in my head and in my heart. I remembered that this is my best hope of unloading what’s heavy.


The Lord used my trip to work out a lot of things in my heart and mind, but each one fit inside a constant theme: Would I be brave? Would I trust Him enough to take Him at His Word? To follow Him into the unknown without an itinerary or agenda? Would I be obedient and take the next right step, wherever that led?

For me, in this moment, the next right step is to ignore Fear and write it all down. To pull out my pen and spill some ink.