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It’s Time to Face What’s Nipping at Your Heels

Sometimes childhood experiences teach us lifetime lessons.

When I was probably only five or six years old, I was chased by a neighborhood dog that in my mind was a raging Rottweiler but in actuality was only a small Yorkshire Terrier. Before the beast reached my ankles, I made a decision that has impacted me for the rest of my life.

In that narrow window of time where threat and opportunity collide, I stopped in my tracks, turned around and started screaming at the dog. To my delightful surprise, and no less to the anxious surprise of the dog, it stopped, turned and started running away from me. With adrenaline flowing and thoughts of global celebration for my total triumph, I chased the dog for another block down the street before heading home.

I’m not always keen on taking time to dredge up memories from my childhood, but this memory gave me one of life’s greatest lessons: Sometimes you have to turn around and face whatever is nipping at your heels.

Through the years, I’ve wasted a tremendous amount of time and energy by avoiding tough conversations, difficult circumstances, and potential threats that come nipping at my heels. Is it easy to face our problems? No. Is it easier to keep running and looking over our shoulders instead of dealing with a situation head on? It seems so in the moment, but our problems never go away until we stop running and turn around to face whatever is chasing us.

Brene Brown tells a story of a time she spoke at a leadership event for Costco. Before she was invited to the stage, the event organizers moved into a Q & A time with Costco CEO, Craig Jelinek. The questions were tough, but Craig’s answers were tougher. Rather than giving the usual one-liners of, “We’ll look into that,” or “Let me give that some thought,” he responded head-on with . . . truth.

He didn’t keep running, and he didn’t keep avoiding. He just gave straight answers to specific questions: “Yes. We did make that decision, and here’s why . . .” “No, we’re not going this direction, and here’s how we got to that decision . . .” (Dare to Lead, 111). When he finished, the audience leapt to their feet, clapping and cheering.

Before Brene walked up the stage to give her talk, she asked the host, “Why is everyone cheering?” And the host smiled and said, “At Costco, we clap for the truth.”

Acknowledging truth and facing whatever is nipping at our heels are not easy tasks, but they are the right tasks. We live in a culture of avoidance and dysfunction where truth is increasingly rare. It seems easier to keep running than to turn and face the truth. But Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, ESV).

What is it that keeps nipping at your heels? What are you afraid will happen if you turn and face the truth? Perhaps, like Jesus said, when you discover (and face) the truth, it will actually set you free.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with