Dance to the Beat of Your Fears

I used to harbor a deep fear that the Indians were going to scalp me.

That probably sounds ridiculous to anyone who didn’t grow up across the valley from Zane Caverns where war drums can be heard at various times of the year. Maybe it sounds ridiculous even if you did grow up within earshot of the caverns because maybe you didn’t have an older brother who was dead set on convincing you that the natives were coming for your scalp. (Brothers can be pretty doggone convincing.)

Even when I wised up and grew skeptical, arguing that if the Indians were coming they would take his scalp too, he responded with a statement so logical I lost the willpower to doubt him: “They won’t want my scalp because my hair is black like theirs. Yours is long and brown and beautiful. The Indians are going to want it.”

I take that as a compliment now, but at the time it served its intended purpose.

From that moment on, whenever the drums would start to pound in the distance, I would stick close to the house lest some Magua-lookalike would appear in my woods and come for me with bloody, outstretched hands. (This is why you don’t let small children watch The Last of the Mohicans. Cough, cough, Dad.)

And I remained confined by the boundaries of irrational fears.


Funny Fact about Fear: so much of it is, without question, irrational.

Our minds conjure up multiple scenarios and we fret and we worry and we dread all these things that never come to pass.

But they might, we think. They could.

And we confine ourselves to the same kind of boundaries I set for myself as a child.

Don’t leave the house. Stay away from the woods. They’re out there waiting, but you’re safe here. If you remain behind closed doors, they won’t find you.


As a child, I resented those festivals at the caverns. I resented them because I loved the woods. I loved climbing trees and splashing in the creek and painting tablets of slate with the juice of wild berries.

I resented the drums that played in the distance because they crafted fears that held me captive indoors when my little feet wanted to create a rhythm of my own, pounding down paths that had been carved by a thousand footsteps that had gone before.

But I was never brave enough to chance the woods when the Indians were on the warpath. I was never reckless enough to face my fears head-on.

Then I got a little older and discovered that the drums were a performance, the natives were friendly, and my scalp was never in any danger after all. And once I realized all of that, something strange happened…

I learned to love those drums.

And the same rhythm that once struck fear into my heart became music to my ears.


Some of us will spend our whole lives believing the natives are hostile. Some of us will never step outside the four walls of our homes because we’re afraid of what lurks in the woods.

But we are restless.

Though our fears may strap us down, the fact remains that, deep inside, We. Are. Restless.

And we want more than these safe little walls offer.

We want the world.

We want wide open skies and and an endless path before us, brimming with new things just waiting to be discovered.


Darling, you have two choices when those drums start pounding in the distance: you can hide, or you can dance.

I hope you dance in complete abandon, twirling to the beat of your fears.

the beat of your fears

You Deserve More Than Fear

I see you there, trying not to let past experiences define you. Courageously trying to keep your heart open to love and trust and the fragile bond of friendship. But I also see your fear.

And I understand your fear.

I know you’ve been hurt many times in the past. I know you’ll be hurt again. Just as you know you’ll be hurt again.

And it’s hard to hold onto hope when your hopes have been crushed. It’s difficult to take a chance on someone or something that may hurt you. So you accept those feelings of loneliness rather than overcome the roadblocks in your mind. But worse than simply accepting them, you justify them.

You tell yourself that you are strong—that you can stand alone—but we both know that you’re bitter and jaded. And afraid. So very afraid… Of trying again. Of failing again. Of risking rejection for the thousandth time.

Because you’re not strong. And deep down inside you hold onto the belief that one more heartbreak could kill you.

But you know something?

You are more than your fears. More than your failures. More than the clutter that litters your past.

You are strong enough… to break down these barriers. To overcome the insecurities that have confined you for so long.

You have what it takes… to trust again. To hope again. To love again.

You deserve so much more than what your fears have supplied;
You deserve freedom in its most wondrous form.

Today is the day to embrace it. And to live—fully live—free of fear.

When Life Happens

“You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”

Profound insight from the world’s favorite, seriously confused fish. I think this line from Finding Nemo makes us laugh because it is such an obvious statement, but in all actuality, it’s also a great reminder.

We tend to play it safe. We protect others. We protect ourselves. And in doing so, we miss out on a vital part of living. We weren’t made to live in a bubble. We were made to thrive and explore, push ourselves to our limits, and yes, even fail sometimes.

You know how babies learn to walk? By falling down. If they never fall, they never learn to balance. By sheltering and protecting our kids, we keep them from living to their fullest potential. We keep them from excelling at things in which they could truly thrive. And, as Dory would say: “Not much fun for little Harpo.”

Sometimes life happens. Sometimes we find that things aren’t going according to plan. Sometimes we face challenges that knock us down. But that doesn’t mean we should stay down. That doesn’t mean we should sequester ourselves away from the world in hopes that we will never again feel the sting of failure.

When you attempt to protect yourself from the bad things, you accidentally block out the good things, as well. You can’t never let anything happen to you. Then nothing would ever happen to you. You can’t find acceptance without risking rejection. You can’t experience success without risking failure. It’s not possible to embrace what is good in life without coming across a few bad things in the process.

It’s time to move beyond the comfortable, little space you’ve created for yourself and attempt great things. It’s time to let things happen. I’m confident that you can overcome whatever trials may come your way as long as you take some advice from Dory and…

Just. Keep. Swimming.

This is Your Challenge to Dream

This is your challenge to dream. This is your call to aim for something higher than you ever dared to reach. This is your reminder that you were meant for so much more than the shallow existence so many others are willing to passively embrace. Others. Not you. No, you’re so much braver than that. You aren’t going to waste your potential.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever thought to do with your life? What’s that one thing that gets your heart racing just to think of it? Did you ever think that maybe it excites you for a reason? Did you ever dare to consider that maybe you were meant to pursue that dream? I don’t care how crazy it sounds. I don’t care who told you that you could never do it. All I want to know is if you ever considered that your big, crazy, seemingly-unattainable dream was God-breathed. Because if it is, it’s not unattainable after all.

I believe that you could achieve so much more than you dare to attempt. I believe that you were meant for so much more than the life you’ve been living. I believe that you have a dream that was meant for more than just dreaming. The danger is not in aiming too high; it’s in aiming too low.

So dream, dear friend, dream. But don’t just dream. Do.

#9 – Mere Existence

How’s this for a New Year’s Resolution?

There’s a big difference, you know, between living and existing. I think that if you were to ask anyone, they would tell you that they want to live. But how easily we fall into that horrible thing called “existence.” How often we simply trudge through the mundane. And how sad it is that we need a reminder to live and not merely exist.

Today I present you with the wake-up call I need on a daily basis. Here’s your reminder to step outside your mere existence and truly start living.

#7 – Aware

Lord,

I regret many things,

but I do not regret this moment with you.

For it will have been a lifetime well-spent

to have lived this single moment

aware of your presence.

Steven James

Lord,

I waste so many moments caught up in the mundane.

So many hours focused on the trivial.

How much time I spend aware – truly aware – of Your presence

seems so small in the scope of my life.

So I revel in this moment that I too often ignore.

Help me become more aware of Your presence today.

Sometimes…

To the One Who Came to Free Prisoners,

Sometimes I look out at the mountains and forget that they’re a reflection of how big You are. Sometimes I watch the clouds drift by on the canvas of the sky and fail to see the proof that You’re still creating beautiful things. Sometimes I watch the seasons change without realizing that they’re a reminder that You’re in control. Sometimes I forget that every single day I wake up breathing is a gift. Sometimes I forget to live the journey. And by sometimes, I mean most times.

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful; it’s just that I find it so easy to forget – so easy to allow myself to get caught up in the mundane and weighed down in the trivial. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life this way.

Today… Today I want to see. I want to live. I want to embrace each moment as they come.

So if You don’t mind, I’m asking You to open up my eyes and help me embrace the wonder of this moment here and now. And the moment after that. And the moment after that. Until I am, at last, fully and wonderfully alive.