Where confidence comes from

I don’t like bullies. Most of my activism this year, while done under the guise of “waking” folks up to political corruption, has actually been against institutional bullying. Whether it’s a high school forcing a young woman to sit in a plastic box, a hospital forcing nurses to take an experimental injection, or a mayor forcing his town to mask up, bullies make me mad.

How do you confront a bully? Well in my case this year, you get a Sharpie and some foamcore and you picket the heck out of them. You ask irritating questions, hold noisy rallies, make unabashed remarks to journalists.

Some folks tend to react to me as though I have some magical “confidence gene” they lack, but we’re going to talk about that. Firstly, I’ve just been bullied a lot myself. I’ve been teased, threatened, manipulated, had my heart broken.

I know bullies, and I feel the need to point them out.

I’d like to say that my confidence in the face of intimidation came from having faced bullying alone so many times. This is true… to a point.*

My parents were sympathetic and supportive at home, but they never got involved in playground theatrics. They saw it as part of growing up.

As an adult weathering blows from bosses and lovers – no one in HR can help you deal with the gaslighting of a narcissist or the lies of an adulterer.

Facing these challenges made me someone I liked. Over time, I became less thin-skinned, more adventurous. This is why I’m evangelical about conquering fear. I don’t want people thinking I’m something special, I want everyone to feel as I do. You discover things about yourself when you pick yourself up and look the dragon in its blood-colored eye.

We need courage more now than ever. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by what the machine is up to, and forget that what you do matters. God cares deeply about the motives of our hearts, and motivation only counts when it is demonstrated by action. By taking a stand, or by walking away.

We can debate whether this season might be Revelations prophecy fulfilled, but let’s agree it’s definitely reminiscent of Exodus. We are being led from Egypt. And we can’t get to the Promised Land until we stop asking for the meat fed to us when we were slaves.

We not only accepted but helped to build the very power that now enslaves us. We voted, paid for and use schools that brainwash our kids, enforcement agencies like OSHA and L&I, and the Newspeak media.

There is nothing new about preferring peaceful slavery to dangerous freedom. We’re simply reliving the common moment in history where we realize, not that we were slaves – for humans tend to be – but that we don’t like it.

We keep watching videos trying to figure out how we got into this mess, putting off the inevitable realization that we built such a big temple for Pharaoh, only God can save us now.

It took not just one but ten acts of God to convince Pharaoh to eject his people.

And that’s the part I tend to forget when I exhort people to get involved. God.

When I say I’m confident *because no one stood up for me. What a crock of hooey. I try not to talk about this because there are folks out there who are not Christian, but my deference to their feelings has unfortunately given a false impression. I know I’ll be okay because I’ve been listening to that still small voice my entire life.

Even before I knew his true name, even when I was still wandering in darkness, I knew I wasn’t alone. I had someone standing up for me.

He is why I didn’t jump my broken heart off a train platform in Queens one winter night many years ago. He is why I held my head high in those middle school hallways. He is the reason I am not afraid of bullies. Because he was with me every time I was bullied.

My confidence comes from faith exercised, a lifetime’s experience of stepping out over empty air and finding a bridge.

When I threw a graphic on social media last summer to have a march in Olympia, expecting maybe a couple dozen to show up, and instead greeted nearly a thousand – I had nothing prepared. I try not to prepare, actually. It gets in the way. My words are not as good, you see, as the words I’m given.

There is no confidence gene. There is a Holy Ghost. I rely on him a lot.

I was never confident. I was never brave. I was never organized.

I was just believing.

I believed that what he calls me to do, he will give me the tools to do. He always has, and he will for you to.

One just has to remember that the tools may not appear until after one has stepped forward in faith.

Once you do… life changes. I am guilty of doing when I should probably be resting. But it’s because I love seeing what God will do, and he can only do so much when I’m home.

I encourage people to stand, not to try to be as strong or stronger than Pharaoh, but to discover that one who is far stronger than Pharaoh lives in you. And he is all about conquering fear. He died a painful brutal death to show even death isn’t scary.

Christians (used to, should) celebrate martyrs – those who died for their faith – because they demonstrate that answering God’s call on your life is joy. Regardless of outcome.

Bullies endure because they convince you that you’re better off doing as they say. Being abused, governed, enslaved is a better fate – better fed, better protected – than going off on your own. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about Pharaoh, your ex, Inslee, a mask Nazi at Safeway, the leadership at PeaceHealth, Satan himself, or Biff in Back to the Future, all bullies are the same. They will always tell you you’re safer doing what they say.

Liberation is realizing they’re lying. Liberation is realizing there is only one true authority governing our lives. Liberation is realizing safety doesn’t matter because real joy comes from doing the right thing… whatever the cost.

And it doesn’t have to mean dying, for cryin’ out loud. It can just mean taking off the mask or speaking up at the school board meeting.

I want you to feel the liberation that I did after I quit my job last year: I’ll never censor myself again. I want you to feel what many healthcare employees did after losing jobs at dehumanizing hospitals: Maybe now I could provide actual care somewhere else. I want you to feel what a friend did when he responded to woke accusations: If believing in Jesus Christ makes me an extremist, then go ahead and call me an extremist.

Go ahead. Be bold in the Lord and know, if he calls you to walk, the waters will part. The enemy really hates that.

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