Tag Archives: fear

The Lost Art of Being Real

Back in the day, “Keeping it real” was a popular phrase used in hip-hop culture. It was about being genuine to who you are and The Lost Art of Being Realwhere you’re from. Keeping it real wasn’t always the best etiquette and tact at times, but it beat the dreaded alternative: being phony.

Unfortunately, it seems keeping it real is a thing of the past in today’s society, largely due to virtual profiles we create via social media.

With the hundreds, if not thousands, of social media networks out there, we dive deeper and deeper into creating profiles, posts, and fake images of ourselves. It’s not that what we post for public consumption isn’t true, it’s just incomplete.

I was conversing with a friend recently about how Facebook posts present false images. People only post the best things about their lives: cool vacations, new outfits, new cars, cute kids, and delicious-looking meals. They leave out the photos and statuses of when they are sitting at home alone, can no longer fit into those jeans, when the car breaks down, when the kids are driving them crazy, and when they burned the meatloaf.

The truth is, the latter happens more than we let on. And that’s just reality. But we don’t keep it real anymore. We want our lives perceived as perfect.

This causes a few problems, but primarily it tickles our tendency to compare ourselves with others. We look at the selfies, vacation photos, and plates full of food and think we’re missing something in life. We think our lives are not as great as those on our friends list. But as Pastor Steven Furtick once said, we should never “compare our behind the scenes footage to other people’s highlight reels.”

Essentially, we tend to compare those perfect things people post to the most imperfect things in our lives. The things that most people wouldn’t dare to post, but we are all experience.


Family conflict.

Marriage problems.

Work stress.

Health issues.



Nobody’s posting an Instagram photo of that rash on their leg. Nobody’s taking a selfie when their hair is jacked up. Nobody’s tweeting when their spouse won’t sleep in the bed with them.Lost Art of Keeping it real

Now, I’m not saying that we should publish all the negative, private, and frustrating things about our lives (because honestly, some of us need to chill on sharing all our drama with the world). I just believe we shouldn’t be focused on creating a flawless public image of ourselves.

The reality is, we have plenty of issues. And when we’re brave enough to open up and admit it, we realize others are experiencing the same problems and have the same imperfections.

The most tragic thing is that practice of putting only the best image forward plays out not just virtually, but in public, particularly in the place where people should be most free to keep it real – the church.

Unfortunately, in the place we need refuge and should be able to openly share our weaknesses, we find ourselves being more fake than ever. God forbid someone in our congregation finds out we struggle with self-confidence, fear, lust, doubt, insecurity, pride, etc. It’s not like 99% of the people, including the pastors, aren’t dealing with or haven’t dealt with the same issues. And that’s just my personal list of issues. I’m sure you could add your own.

It’s time for a reality check. What type of image are you portraying? Is it authentic, or are you just trying to make your life look awesome to others? The whole you is much more beautiful and much more admirable than just the “best” you. Let’s go back to keeping it real.


“Authenticity is a collection of choices we make every day. It’s the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Brene Brown




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You Can’t Do Anything Without Courage

I’m sort of enamored with the concept of courage. I love reading the Old Testament with all its acts of valor. Just reading the term “valiant men” anywhere in scripture makes me want to grab a sword and shield or slingshot and go find an uncircumcised Philistine.

photo by rowena waack via compfight
photo by rowena waack via compfight

Of course there are different characteristics of courage now than in O.T. days, but you get the point.

God is big on courage as well. He’s constantly telling us to be courageous, and do not fear (variations of that phrase are mentioned roughly 100 times in the Bible). Yet, I heard one of the greatest explanations of courage from an interview with Maya Angelou and Dave Chappelle. Yeah, those two make strange bedfellows for sure. I came across this episode of Iconoclast shortly after Maya’s death, where she explained courage as “the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”


I find that to be true. Whatever virtues you aspire to — whether it’s the fruit of the Spirit or some other set of values — it takes courage to live them.

Courage to love when there’s no guarantee you’ll be loved in return. To love after you’ve been heartbroken. To love when it’s misunderstood.

Courage to be patient when you’re pressured to react. To wait when you want to go. To not get ahead of yourself or the process.

Courage to be humble and admit you’re wrong. Courage to forgive.

Courage to have faith. To believe in the midst of negative circumstances. To trust God when everyone else is doubting.

Courage. It’s the virtue that allows you to live every other virtue. It’s a virtue that is already in you. God wouldn’t tell us to be courageous if it was beyond our ability to do so. He has equipped us with courage. We may not see it. We may not feel it. We may not use it often enough. But it’s in us. We just need to conjure it up more often. Practice it. Doing so allows the other virtues to operate.


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Speaking Up Even When You’re Afraid

Sometimes in life we feel compelled to do difficult things. And by difficult, I mean something we don’t want to do. Something we resist Speaking Up Even When You're Afraiddoing because it goes against our nature, our personality, or our level of comfort. But deep inside, we know we should do it…we must do it.

This difficult thing can be asking for a raise, quitting a job, ending a relationship, pursuing a relationship, standing up to an authority figure, addressing an issue, or simply telling someone the truth.

Most of the challenges we face of this nature have to do with confrontation. Most of us aren’t predisposed to confronting others. It can be intimidating in many respects, but particularly because of the uncertainty. We don’t know how the other party will react. We don’t know how we will react to their reaction. We’re not sure what to say or how to go about it. And ultimately, we fear the worse consequences — rejection, loneliness, embarrassment, or failure.

Honestly, all the aforementioned phobias are possible. But there is a greater consequence than rejection — regret.

What if we do nothing? What if we keep things status quo and don’t rock the boat? Life will go on, but we’ll be uncomfortable. We’ll wonder “what if?” We’ll be weighed down with regret.

In 1 Samuel 3, young Samuel is faced with a similar situation. He’s being raised and trained by his mentor, the high priest Eli, and staying in the tabernacle with him. Samuel hears the voice of God one night — a rare occasion during those times — and God tells him that Eli and all his family are going to be killed because of their sins. Whoa. Try going back to sleep after hearing that. The Bible says the next morning Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision he had (obviously). Imagine what was going through Samuel’s mind: He’s only 12 years old and he has to tell this man who is like his father that he and his family will be wiped out. And you thought you were facing a difficult situation.

After Eli implores (and nearly threatens) him, Samuel reveals the prophecy. Eli doesn’t get angry, he simply replies: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (1 Sam. 3:18).

If God is pressing you to do something or say something that is difficult, I’d go out on a limb and say it’s for the best. He already knows the result and how the other person/persons will respond. It may be rejection or it may be acceptance, either way, it’s not your responsibility. You can’t control others’ reactions; you control your obedience. One simple yet difficult step of courage and confrontation may open the door to your destiny. It did for Samuel. A frightened, preteen boy got the nerve to speak up, prophesying for the first time, and went on to be the first major prophet of Israel.

Is there something God is nudging you to do that you’re scared of? Is there someone you need to confront? Embrace the uncertainty and move forward in faith. No matter what happens, God has your back.

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Your Greatest Weakness is Your Strength

One thing I love about the Bible is the honesty in which it displays historic figures. No one’s flaws are hidden. Everyone’s life is pretty much laid bare — the good and the bad. And in certain places, the writer shares his own weaknessflaws, like the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians.

“I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Cor. 3-5

Paul admitted he was in weakness, fear, and much trembling when it came to speaking to the church of Corinth. Essentially, Paul feared public speaking. There are other instances in his letters where he admitted he wasn’t an eloquent orator. It’s odd because I always perceived Paul as a great theologian and preacher who commanded attention and respect when he spoke, but that wasn’t the case.

Public speaking ranks as one of the greatest fears for people. Most of us have suffered from it to some extent, which makes us much like Paul in that sense. Yet God knew Paul was weak in this area and He still called him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, an assignment that regularly put him in front of complete strangers to share a radical message none of them had heard before. Way to set up a guy for failure, God.

But God did this regularly, on purpose. Think back to Moses. He tried to explain to God that he couldn’t speak for Him to Pharaoh because he stuttered. It’s not like God was like: “Oh, my bad, I forgot you stuttered, let me find someone else.” He knew speaking was Moses’ weakness and He called him anyway.

Today, we do so much to hide our weaknesses. We focus on what we’re good at and pursue interests in those areas and hone skills pertaining to our strengths. We are caught up in a culture that only displays its best — we retake photos on our phones until we have our best-looking selfie; we search through pics to use our best-looking one as our profile image; we use Instagram to make our sucky photos look professional, all in an attempt to display an image of strength, beauty, and competence to the world. But none of it is true.

I admit, only God and I know my weaknesses. I’m the king of playing it cool, faking it til I make it, and if need be, just plain frontin’. But God, throughout history, takes the opposite approach with us. He doesn’t want any of those weaknesses, blemishes, fears, or things that make us tremble hidden. He calls us into those areas. He pushes us into those areas. He uses us in those areas.


Paul said it in his letter to the Corinthians: So that anything we accomplish and any life we impact won’t be because of our wisdom or skill, but solely by the power of the Spirit so our faith (and subsequently others’ as well) will be in the power of God, not in our own ability.

Have you been concealing or shying away from a weak area in your life God is nudging you toward? Have you shut your ears to what He’s been saying because of fear? Have you been worrying about what others will think? Fearing failure? God knows what He’s doing. He’s calling you there for a reason — to display His power and glory.

Like Paul, embrace your weakness. It’s the only way to see what the power of the Spirit can do in your life.


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Living in Faith Every Day

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “The Past is in the Past So Let It Pass: For Women” by Nadia Atkinson. It’s a compilation of testimonies by 16 women about their journeys in finding Christ.  

“…For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,” says the LORD.’ ”

Jeremiah 39:18 NKJV

Tell me what was your life like before Christ? nadia's book

Before Christ, I lived a life with no direction. I believed that the only person that guided my life was me and those around me. I hung around people who lived a negative lifestyle, and even had those people around my child. I lived a promiscuous and dangerous lifestyle, and at the time, it was fun. I didn’t do drugs, but I allowed myself to be around them and allowed them in my home. I was 19 years old with my own apartment thinking I could do whatever I wanted, never thinking about consequences, or the danger I was putting my daughter in.

What drew you to Christ?

There had come a time when I had hit rock bottom. I was about to be evicted from my home and I needed help and none of the so-called friends that I had around me every day could help me, nor could any of my family members. Everyone had an excuse as to why they couldn’t help me. It was then that I realized that I could only depend on Christ. I don’t remember exactly how it was resolved, but it was from then on I decided I would never put my faith in man again.

What made you decide, the day you were saved, that that was the day to dedicate your life to God?

I became saved when I was young. I attended church on a regular basis due to my mother and stepfather making it a requirement. I said the words and I prayed the prayer, but I never really took it seriously. In my mid-twenties, I was dating a gangbanger who I thought was a great guy but had the bad boy thing going for him that I loved. I never thought that I would ever see that bad boy side of him. One day I decided I was going to check his voicemail on his cell phone, and I did. It was easy because men never use passwords that can’t be guessed. Well I told him I did, and I don’t know what he thought I heard, but there was something on there that he didn’t want me to hear. I confronted him about a girl’s message that was on there, but he didn’t care about her message, he was just angry that I checked his messages. He threatened to kill me, and knowing that he was capable of doing just that, I was scared. He knew where I lived with my daughter and he knew where my family lived. I left my home for about a week. I was staying at my best friend’s house who just so happened to live across the street from a church.

The following Sunday I attended one of the services at that church. I prayed and I cried like I had never prayed and cried before. I promised God that I would change my life if my life was spared in this situation. I dedicated my life to Christ that day and I meant it with my whole heart.  When the service was over, I felt a weight lifted off me, but I wasn’t going home just yet. I went back to my friend’s house and she told me that while I was gone a lady knocked on her door to get help because she was having car trouble. Now my friend lived in an apartment complex, so the lady could have knocked on 10 others doors that were around my friend’s house. My friend welcomed the lady in to make a phone call. Before the lady left, she told my friend I don’t know what’s going on, but know everything is going to be fine, and then she left. Till this day, my friend has never seen the lady ever again. When she told me what happened, I felt like it was confirmation from God that He heard my prayer and my cries. I went home that night and never worried about the situation again.

If you could save someone by telling them one thing God has done for you in your life, what would it be?

God has spared my life in many ways. There are so many things that could have happened in my life due to the lifestyle I was living such as diseases, homelessness, incarceration, and the list goes on. I am disease free, never have been without a roof over my head, and never been incarcerated. Only by the grace of God was I spared, so I take every chance I get to tell someone to go to God and He will see you through.


Nadia is a small business owner in NJ who is God-fearing, trustworthy, and a student of the Word of God. She loves reading, writing, praise and worship, food, the beach, learning about our universe, spending time with family, giving advice, and being in love. You can order her book here.

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