There’s a bell that rings when you walk into Lystra Tea Company. If you go there regularly and your visits are encouraging, just the sound of the bell can help your morning. Or afternoon. Or evening.
I stop by often.
I came today to learn more about how to give up fear for Lent.
“Maybe the better way to think,” Tim said, “Is to talk about taking up love and power and self-control for Lent.”
It’s frustrating when he starts talking when I walk in. It’s like he can read my mind.
“I’m not sure that Paul was interested in unpacking all the elements of my cowardice,” Tim said. “Because we’re not talking about anxiety alone, which can have many causes, spiritual, physical, emotional. Paul was concerned that I might get caught up in sheer uncertainty, in fear of what people think. And so he reminded me to spend more time thinking about the love and power and self-control that God makes available to us.”
“How does love relate to that feeling of body-dragging anxiety I feel when running?” I asked. “Because at those moments, what I’m most aware of is failing the people I love.”
Tim took his time refilling my mug. He let the words linger in the small coffee shop. And in my heart.They were words that I hadn’t said out loud before.
“What if they aren’t worried about that?” he said.
I must have looked confused.
“You worry about failing people. What they see is you serving, and trying, and being human. Loving isn’t measuring up. Loving isn’t performing. And the people you love aren’t saying, ‘he’s giving 60%. That doesn’t measure up.'”
“I’m not sure I agree,” I said.
“I can tell,” Tim said. “But let’s try something. Rather than worrying about failing, why not take simple steps to demonstrate love? Give up the sense that you have to do everything right. Instead do something tiny that you know abandons fear and expresses love. Like praying, yes. But like explaining what you are wrestling with. Or asking for help. Or asking forgiveness.”
“Those sound more like vulnerability than love,” I said.
“You can’t have one without the other,” Tim said. “Just try it this weekend.”