Don’t be afraid.

How many times are we told to not be afraid in the Bible?
What is the opposite of fear? Love.

I’m going to say something radical. Brace yourself.
Love everything you are afraid of. Love everything that frightens you, that worries you, that concerns you.

Love your chronic health condition(s). Love your friend’s brain cancer diagnosis. Love your fat. Love your back pain. Love your hoarder husband. Love your crazy next door neighbor.

The more we fight against things, the harder they get. The more we struggle, the more difficult things are.

You can’t have a baby if you are tense. Relax into the pain. Ride it out. Know it will pass.

And like with any other transformation, something amazing will be born out of this pain.

We hate change. We like to be in control. We fear the unknown.
Our hate, our need to control, our fear doesn’t change the reality.
It only makes it harder to accept it.

The only thing we have control over is our reaction.

Learn deep breathing. Eat healthy foods. Get exercise daily. Try yoga. Journal. Paint. Sing out loud. Find your creative outlet. Do this every day. Learn to trust the process.

And remember to love. To love is to welcome the change, to embrace it.
“Perfect love casts out fear,” Jesus tells us.

How do we know we are not a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly?
How do we know we are not a tadpole about to become a frog?

We are about to trade a life of crawling for one of soaring.
We are about to trade a life of water for air and land.

Don’t fight it. Let it happen. Know that God is in control of all things and God is in everything.

You are loved, and you are blessed. Remember the swallow. Remember the lily of the valley.

Don’t be afraid. Love.

Love your enemies.

What is the Christian response to acts of terrorism? In short, love.
This is the most paradoxical thing. Yet we cannot fight fire with fire.

We are told to love our enemies.

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[o] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

We are told to overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:14

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”

Romans 12:17-21

“17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;[g] for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

We are told to turn the other cheek.

Matthew 5:38-42

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; 40 and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; 41 and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. 42 Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

We are told to love our neighbors (which is everybody).

Mark 12:28-31

28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

When we don’t know what to do or say in a difficult situation, we are told to pray for the right words, and advised that the Holy Spirit will give them to us. We are warned that it isn’t easy to be a follower of Jesus.

Matthew 10:16-22

16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

These are hard things to do, especially in a world that seeks retaliation and revenge. We are called to be a fixing to the evil of the world. We are called to be the cure to the disease of sin and hate and separation. We are called to build bridges, not walls. We are called to love. If loving your enemy is hard, remember to invite Jesus into it. Ask him to be with you in that feeling, to help you understand what you are feeling, to help transform it into love.

(All verses are from the New Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible.)