Monday, January 8, 2018

Conversations With Fear

By Peter Leavell @peterleavell

“Hey, Fear,” I say as I sit down to work on a new project. “You’ve been working out at the gym again, I see.”

“You know, I don’t care to be here. I show up only because you want me. I'd rather be watching videos.”

I take my hands off my keyboard. “Really. I invite you? No offense, but I really could use some peace. This is a big project, and people are depending on me to be world class. Things are backing up, and frankly, my career as a writer depends on what happens next. So, if you don’t mind, I better get to work.”

I try to move my fingers. They won’t budge.

I hear chuckling in my head. “Paralyzed by Fear.” He’s laughing so hard now I almost think he’s funny.

“Okay, you’ve had your joke. Now look. I can’t mess this up. Here, here’s a few distractions. I’ll count backwards from five. Sometimes that works.”

He wipes the tears from his eyes and the laugh lines smooth. “All right, I’ll warn you, I’m strong this time. I’m not going anywhere. Besides. You’ve written over one million words in your career. And I’ve been your constant companion for EVERY SINGLE WORD.”

“True, Fear. You are my constant companion.”

“Now, let me be your guide.”

I sense his strength. It’s appealing. I want to give in.

I hear another voice clear His throat.


His presence is strong. But fear is strong, too.

“Jesus! Make my fear go away.”

Nothing happens.

“Jesus! You promised!”

Fear looks embarrassed. “That’s not how this works.”

“What do you mean?”

Fear lifts his chin and says in a flutelike voice, “Conditional love produces fear. You want love. But you connect love and success. And now, when there’s serious work to be done, you have no secure place to go.”

“No secure place?”

His brows curl. “You’re afraid to disappoint God.” He nods toward Jesus. “As if you’re winning His love, along with everyone else’s.”


“When He said He was closer than a brother, it wasn’t because He was going to take me away.” Fear looked triumphant. “I’m here to stay.”

“Then what good is He?” The words slip out before I can stop them. I look at Jesus, horrified, but His presence hasn’t changed. Perhaps hurt. Maybe compassion. “I’m sorry.”

“In the times and places you are in, many ask that.” Fear crosses his arms. “And I’ll make it clear, since I’d rather be doing something else.”

“Watching videos.”

“Yes, watching videos. Now, look at Jesus. Look at Him. Not only as God, but as mankind. What will you go through that He has not? I’m in Him, too, you know. And yet…”

“And yet He walked this earth.” Understanding dawns on me.

Fear chuckles. “That’s right. I’m here to stay. But so is He. Don’t look to me for comfort, look to Him. No one’s going to take me away. But no one’s taking Him away either. You just seem to like me better.”

I look at Fear. “I just need someone who understands, who loves me no matter what.”

“The boy can think! He’s given you the work—to write. Now He’s here, and He's given you someone to comfort you. Look, I’m going to be there for the Big Day. The one where you die. But you know, when you cross that river and step on shore, Someone will be there with an open hand, as you leave me behind. He knows what it's like, because He's been through death as well. So, write."

"Yeah, okay." I nod to Jesus, and somehow I feel comforted, like when my dad puts a hand on my shoulder.

"One thing about writing He knows, too." Fear settles in and grabs a magazine from the coffee table in my head. "He’s written a book called the Bible, and wow, has that gotten split reviews! So He knows...”

“Hey fear? I think I know why He doesn’t take you away.”


“You’ve given me perspective.”

“Great, kid. Now, go do what you’ve got to do.”

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at


  1. Unique! Can't wait to see how your project turns out. I think all of us writers have experienced fear. I know I have. Usually when I overthink.

    1. Thanks, Terri! Yeah, overthinking...hard not to do.

  2. Very "screwtapeish." Very true. Very thought-provoking. Thanks, my SW friend.


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