FLASHBACK FRIDAYS: WEEK 29 (Chain Breaker by Zach Williams, and The Things We’ve Been Afraid To Say by Tenth Avenue North)- What Halloween shows us about fear, and how we can overcome being fearful!

Right now as I am sitting down writing this blog, it’s a Wednesday morning on my day off, and it’s the 31st October 2018. Tonight, as is the case every year around this time, children will come knocking at the door of my house (well, not really my house, but my family’s house, but anyway…) asking for lollies and chocolates. Kids as young as 5 and as old as 18. Around the hours of 5:30pm til about 10pm. Yep, that early, and yep, that late. Asking for sweets, while all of them belting out ‘trick or treat’ when we come to the door. Every year Mum, Dad and Jon try to be out on Halloween (mostly eating out for dinner!)- and maybe it’s because this is the holiday that gets to me the most. Because that phrase of ‘trick or treat’ has sometimes puzzled me, but I reckon now is the right time for me to dive deep into this concept of Halloween, and why people do celebrate such a holiday.

My family and I have never, ever, not even once, celebrated Halloween. We’re Christians, and we don’t believe in Halloween, however there are a lot of people who do the whole dressing up thing, sometimes knowing what it’s all about and sometimes not. From movies and TV shows as well as just general knowledge, I have seen people dressed up from head to toe in Halloween gear, and let me tell you- the common theme in each of these costumes, is that it’s something from folklore that’s designed to ‘scare you’. Mummies, witches, skeletons, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, even demons and other supernatural beings- no ‘scary’ creatures are off limits in this zany and crazy holiday where some people have seemed to not know why they do celebrate such a day. While Christmas is about Jesus being born (and those who don’t ascribe to a religion still celebrate Christmas as a way to be closer to family!), and Easter and other religious themed holidays across not just Christianity but other faiths are all about maybe reconnecting with your dormant faith and realising that there’s something bigger than yourself out there, and there’s a reason and purpose for this madness called life; I reckon that it is Halloween that has us all stumped.

We dress up as scary objects, try to scare other people and earn candy as a result? To what gain, what benefit? Almost every other holiday celebrates something, and celebrates something meaningful; so what does this celebrate? The fact that we are scared easily? No, I reckon that’s not right- as every year we dress up in the same or similar outfits, that sometimes I think we’re immune to the effects of monsters on our psyche. So, are we celebrating that we have the power to scare others? Maybe, but I think that’s not right either-as I don’t think all of us are that cruel, loving to scare other people into oblivion. Besides if we ourselves aren’t scared easily by ghosts, witches, vampires etc; why do we go to the effort to dress up and scare others when we know that they’re going to react the same way that we would? With indifference and giving out sweets out of duty? Perhaps we’re all secretly Satanists (that’s the conspiracy theorist in me spitballing ideas!), but that wouldn’t explain why we all love to walk around with carved out pumpkins on our heads, laughing with our friends as we pick out ‘scary’ outfits. No, if we all are Satanists and take that seriously, then we should be taking Halloween seriously and doing the whole ‘everybody dress in robes and stand around in a circle holding hands, then chant’ thing. But. We Don’t. Do. Anything. Of. That. So we’re not Satanists (to the relief of everyone on this planet!). So…what is it that is special about Halloween? Is there something to it? Or nothing at all?

As I tried to research on Halloween and find a one-stop website on the origins and history of the holiday (because frankly, the history of the ‘celebration’ is quite extensive, I’ve found, that many of you could be bored with it!), I found a website that explored Halloween in depth, that you all can read at your own pace and in your time (or maybe not!)- but one thing I have found interesting throughout all my reading is that now Halloween is celebrated as a ‘tradition’ or ‘ritual’ with most of us not knowing any of the reasons and ramifications behind the holiday. Yet, and this is totally my opinion, with no evidence or basis whatsoever, which you can agree with or not; I believe that there is something deeper. Why we still year after year take candy by scaring people. And give candy away because we don’t want to be scared. We go through the motions of this holiday, but I think the inexplicable and inescapable truth is this. That we are afraid of ourselves, and Halloween is a distraction. We dress up in fancy costumes, trying to scare others, to mask the emotions that we are afraid. No matter what comfort or what reassurances or encouragement we receive from others, I reckon we over-celebrate Halloween so that we can say ‘see, I am so scary that others will give me candy, how great am I!’, when the reality is that we’re still the same scared person from years ago. No, it’s not because we are scared of spiders, snakes, sharks, vegetables, the dark, heights, politicians, floods, famine, fire, taxes- they’re the little things… it’s really because we’re scared of everything else.

I reckon celebrating Halloween is a defence mechanism to how we really feel underneath. We’re scared of the future that we will fail. We’re scared of success as we think we maybe don’t deserve it. We’re scared of the giants in our life thinking that they’re too big to overcome. We’re scared of the future and unwarranted busyness that we want to put on ourselves because we want to prove to others that we have it all together. We’re scared of high school reunions as we think that others who have it all will think we’re nothing. We’re scared that our secrets will come to light and people won’t love us. We’re scared that the beliefs we have that are uncommon with others can and will cause divide. We’re scared that the struggles and addictions we have in our lives will continue to have a hold of us until our dying breath and we will never be free.

We’re also afraid that one day the future will come creeping up upon us, and we’ll look back with regret and wonder what we’ve done with our lives, feeling like we’ve just wasted everything. We’re also afraid of not having the answers to life’s big questions, because it means that our world view can massively change within an instant. And we’re also afraid of dying, because that means that is the end, and there’s no guaranteed surety of what happens after that- because with Christianity and with every religion in fact, there is an element of doubt, with is why faith is required. Everything on earth has something, either tangible or not, that can scare us, yet isn’t it ironic that what terrifies us the most are the insecurities that we have about ourselves and the sometimes irrational lies we believe, that if we share them with those around us will make us lighter and feel freer and more alive?

So, with our feeling of insecurities and the pressures of life overwhelming down on us and manifesting itself sometimes physically but most of the time in the form of stress; what is it that we do? Yep, we hide, push those feelings down, and celebrate Halloween, a holiday where we prove to ourselves that we are tough by scaring people. Yeah, like that’s going to create a change in us overnight… Though while I have spoken about fear in the past on a previous Flashback Fridays post, I think it’s about time for another reminder, don’t you think? There can never be enough reminders I believe, in the importance on overcoming fear in our lives- because fear is so universal, and usually comes up in our lives if we are believing a lie from the enemy. But while I finish up and try to find some candy to give to kids tonight, and also pray as to whether God wants me to overtly share the gospel tonight to the kids to come ‘trick or treating’; let me offer up two albums that have at one point or another this year, quelled my fears of the future, or at least reminded me that Jesus is right here beside me every step of the way so that He can carry my fears and I don’t have to.

Zach Williams’ Chain Breaker won quite a few awards at the Dove Awards thus year- much deserving as that album is pure rock’n’roll/southern gospel goodness about Jesus- and with that album basically all about fear lyrically and how we as people can ask God to break the chains of our past and the chain of fear; that album kind of crept up on me as to how much I relied on these tracks whenever I was crippled by fear of my future being uncertain. Yes, it’s true that I don’t know the future, but as Zach reiterates, I should bring everything to the table of God (“To The Table”) and remember the always-true notion that fear is a liar and is sent by the devil to drive a wedge between us and God (“Fear Is A Liar”). I may not have everything figured out, however I know the One who does, and that is comforting to know that whatever happens in my future, Jesus is with me to guide me through. While the other album that has been impacting and influential of late in my life, around the very topic of fear, is Tenth Avenue North’s The Things We’ve Been Afraid To Say EP. Yep, it’s an album that has only been out for a couple of weeks, but such is the topics explored here so relevant to today’s culture, that the band almost demand attention- and it is attention that I’m certain they will receive. Jon reviewed the album here as well (and gave it 5/5 too!), so you all can read our review when you have time; but what I will say is this- we don’t need to be afraid of anything in this life. If we dialogue everything through with our friends, family, and other loved ones about what is on our hearts, surely, we can stop acting like ‘fake perfect people’, right? We can be vulnerable and real once we realise that fear doesn’t have any hold of us. Then we can stop championing Halloween and start focusing on the holidays that do matter! Something to ponder over.

Has there been a moment in your life where you were afraid of something for whatever reason? What was it? If you are afraid of quite a lot of things, why do you think that was the case? Remember that our friends and family ought not to judge us, so let us spill secrets and our innermost thoughts and insecurities. After all, they’re going to be uncovered sooner or later- so it might as well be sooner so that we can live without the weight and the burdens we are carrying around. Jesus can carry our lies, hurt, worry, fear, guilt and shame also. So there’s that fact that should be comforting. And will be later on- in time.

Until next week guys, hoping and praying that you have a fantastic day!

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