Does Fear Make Me a Bad Person?

A Syrian refugee flashes a victory sign at Reyhanli refugee camp in Hatay province on the Turkish-Syrian border March 31, 2012. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

It looks like I’ll be enjoying turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce with a side of fear and trembling this Thanksgiving.

I’m afraid.

The kind of fear that needles sleep and browbeats waking hours.

It takes my breath.

It steals.

I have slept through the night twice in two weeks. Mostly my brain tosses and turns. I imagine someone casing my home, determining its vulnerability. I obsessively imagine Amanda Blackburn’s encounter with her attackers. They have invaded my house every day since they broke into hers.


Sunday night we scurried from a scrumptious dinner at an Indian restaurant to the theater across town just in time to catch the previews before Mockingjay, Part II. We dashed about, speed walking, and camped in perfect seats with our friends before the opening scene, giggling and giddy with anticipation, tickled to be kid-free and on a double date.

But when a character stuck a gun under Katniss’ chin, a panic flared in my gut.

And then a fellow moviegoer’s need to head to the restroom painted Paris all over me. My breathing shallowed and I was flush with a hot sweat.

I am afraid of seeing evil in the eyes of another.


And for the first time, jail ministry has frightened me. After all, the inmates I’m in relationship with aren’t there for yanking the tags off mattresses. Recidivism is real.

Your enemy wants to handicap your love, He said.

I know……..but how is murder Your best for anybody?

I don’t get it.

I don’t author evil, He said.

I am incapable of sanctioning it.


I was against allowing refugees into the Unites States.

Did I think refugees were terrorists? Absolutely not.

Did I think Muslims were terrorists? No.

Did I think terrorists could potentially hijack the sanctuary of refugees to advance their cause? I did.

There is inconsistency in your passion, He said.

You mean, how can I beat the drum of the marginalized and not have a heart for refugees?

Fear. That’s how.

Love trumps fear, He said.

Love trumps fear, I agreed.

I do now believe we should admit refugees to the US; I do believe we are under a Biblical mandate to assist the oppressed, but I needed a little grace to get there.

I’d like to think fear doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me a mama with an unhealthy worry over her children. It makes me a human with a clenched fist around safety as an idol. It makes me an advocate tempted to coddle fear instead of pressing into boldness.

But I’m working on it.

It means I may love with wobbly knees, but this is me dragging the thing into the light.

Remaining free is a hard business. The weaknesses that threaten to sideline us are always at hand.

And when you write a Bible study extolling God’s goodness, His faithfulness and His safety, He makes sure you’re not a liar. That those Truths live in your belly, not just on your tongue.

Freeing Truth to Fight Fear

  • God is absolutely incapable of evil. He doesn’t need it to accomplish His purposes. Evil occurs because we live in a broken world full of broken people. (1 John 1:5)
  • God can use circumstances created by evil to accomplish great things. (Genesis 50:20)
  • God is angered by injustice. (Psalm 7:11)
  • God is always near. We don’t ever trod this messy dirt alone. (Psalm 62:5-8)
  • Our fears point to our idols. (Joshua 24:23)
  • We can be free of fear. (Phil 4:4-7)

So maybe I’ll pass on that side dish of panic on Thursday after all.

Free Stuff – As we prepare to launch the sale of Who’s Your Daddy? on December 1, we’re hosting Twelve Days of Giveaways on the Tenacious Grace Facebook page next week. Come back here on Monday to get all the scoop about how to win a bunch of free loot and kick off the month of December right.

Have the best Thanksgiving, friends.

[Feature Image: Freedom House]
12 Days of Giveaways!
The Advice That Changed My Parenting


  1. Bee
    November 24, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Well, I needed that. I am almost debilitated by the fear. And every time I think I have a handle on it, there’s another headline and I slide right back into that pit. I think I’ll spend some time studying those scriptures you just posted. Especially the one our fears pointing to our idols!

    • Cookie Cawthon
      November 24, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Bee, I am currently pasting Truth over fear on the regular. And I was definitely stung last week by the realization that I’ve made safety an idol. I didn’t love that reality. Choosing to marinate on Truth with you and honestly restricting my exposure to information that nourishes panic. I wrote in my journal this morning…”Feed what you want to grow; starve what you want to die.”

  2. Jeff Morris
    Jeff MorrisReply
    November 24, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    I feel your struggle. There is a way to show love without putting yourself in danger. It’s not an absolute. It’s ok to advocate for a time out to make a smart plan. It’s also perfectly ok to show love and compassion during that time and to the ones who are in need.

    The question is, how to bridge the gap between the things you hear/read, which are inevitably headline-grabbers.

    My thought is just my thought, but let’s find a way to speak out and make our voice part of the dialogue in whatever way is available, reach out to everyone as Christ would, and ask for reasonableness in between.

    Just as in other times of strife in the world, we may not be heard, the strife may explode into fighting and possibly a fight of good versus evil. But God has allowed us to struggle through it before and if necessary and part of his plan, we must submit to that plan of struggling through it again. History has shown, though, that we must strive for His plan, the right thing and to be a part of His fight.

    • Cookie Cawthon
      November 24, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      Lots of strong logic in that, Jeff. The media tends to make everything overly-emotionalized. Which pits people against each other based on whatever emotion is incited. The more we can go big on Truth, wisdom, and compassion and less on emotion, the better…

  3. Christy Moore
    Christy MooreReply
    November 25, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Friend!!! You got real! You got real & raw!!! You are a BLESSING! God uses you, your words to speak to me and many more!! Man, I love you!!!

    • Cookie Cawthon
      November 25, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Thank you, Christy Moore! I feel like I pretty much gain some ground in one area and then see that I’ve lost ground in another. My hope is that I can at least be honest in where it’s difficult, so that we can all encourage each other to keep pressing on. This girl loves you much!!

  4. Sandra
    November 25, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    Cookie I am so thankful that you are such a real and honest person. God can really use that in your life. We all need to drop our masks and help others. No one will come for help if they think you are above trouble. I struggle in that area too sometimes.

    • Cookie Cawthon
      November 26, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Thank you so much, Sandra. I agree so wholeheartedly…I believe there is a lot of freedom – for ourselves and others – to be had in admitting our struggles. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  5. Wes Harrington
    Wes HarringtonReply
    November 26, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you, I am grateful for people like Ally and you for reminding me that Gods love outshines the worlds fears. I felt very apathetic when it came to the refugees and thier problems. I was reminded that it was for Freedom that we have been set free!! Also, that Jesus died for the world not for Christians! Thanks again for the article and shining light on real issues.

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