Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#DangerDays: Teresa Tysinger's Story

Today's #DangerDays post is from my very good friend Teresa Reep Tysinger. Teresa is the Director of Communications at a church in Fort Worth, TX, and the designer of the logo for this series. We've known each other for 20 years now, and she is one of the more special people in my life. I love her, and after reading this post I have no doubt you will feel the same way. Thanks for sharing, Teresa!

You know those thrill seekers? Adrenaline junkies? People who thrive on heart-pounding, breathtaking moments in life? That’s not me.

As a matter of a fact, since a very early age I’ve struggled with fear, anxiety and worry. I worried as a young child how my parents would pay the bills when my father struggled to find work. Intense anxiety while writing my thesis in college even caused me to suffer physical symptoms. Fear of being accepted has often led to me missing out on making new friends.

Carl knows me really, really well. And considering all of this, you’d think it would surprise me that he invited me to write for this #DangerDays series. But what Carl knows and you don’t – yet – is that I’ve started to see God working in big ways to overcome these giants, these Goliaths in my life.

You are probably familiar with the Old Testament story of David and Goliath. In the book of 1 Samuel, we are introduced to the unlikely duo. Young David, the future king of Israel, is armed with only his staff and sling when he volunteers to fight Goliath, a Philistine giant with armor and shield who had already defeated countless Israelites. David has no reason to feel brave. But he answers Goliath’s angry cry with these bold words:

“You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

In one of the most dramatic scenes described in the Bible, David then runs straight for Goliath, takes one single stone and slings it at the giant, striking him in the forehead. The unbeatable giant falls dead to the ground.  (From 1 Samuel, chapter 17)

I mean, wow! This kid had guts. Why? Where does he find the strength? A few verses earlier, Saul warns David that he is too young and inexperienced to fight Goliath. David’s response is one of confidence: “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” David’s been saved before. He’s seen God’s protection over him. He doesn’t find his bravery in his own abilities, but in the limitless abilities of his God.

And there, in this familiar story, is the birth of my own understanding of grace – arguably the most powerful concept in the entire Christian faith. Not by any doing of my own…not my skill, my accomplishments, and – thank goodness – my bravery…God saved me through the events of the most dangerous days of Jesus’ life and death, and continues to love and protect and strengthen me. 

About two and a half years ago, I was about as scared as I ever remember being. My husband had been working away from home for months at a time, my marriage was suffering, and God seemed to be telling us we needed to make big changes if we wanted to survive. After a lot of prayer, we felt a peace about making a big move across the country to a city where my husband could work without traveling, we could all be together, and we could work on rebuilding our marriage and family. But that meant leaving a place and people we’d known as “home” for over ten years.

I was terrified. What if I hated my new job? What if I didn’t make any new friends? What if the move didn’t fix our marriage? During the move, through tears and anxiety, I kept coming back to the Bible verse I chose as my “life verse” when I was in 6th grade. Even then, God knew my tendency to worry and gave me this gentle reminder from the book of Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (41.10). The move stretched me in ways I thought would break me. But we’ve done it, with the grace and guiding hand of the One who saves.

As an adult, I’ve come to realize being fearful isn’t a sign of weakness and I’m not alone in my struggle. It’s part of the human condition. And it’s everywhere. In songs, all over posts by friends and family on social media, even in themes of blockbuster movies. My church began a sermon series this past Sunday on David and Goliath. I had to laugh, actually, at God’s little tip of his hat in my direction. (He does that a lot!) The preacher opened with this clip from the movie “We Bought a Zoo.” If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great movie that really speaks to fear, moving on, and what great things can come when we live dangerously.

What might God do with your “twenty seconds of insane courage” – with your one stone?  Sometimes, I believe the bravest thing we can do is simply say, “Yes, Lord.” Yes, I’ll move where you’re leading me. Yes, I’ll trust you to keep me safe. Yes, I’ll go up against the giants in this life.

These #dangerdays are lived one minute at a time. As a matter of a fact, my family once again faces the chance to live dangerously with Jesus. My husband will be off to New York City for the better part of the next year to work on a new Broadway show – something he’s been working toward for a long time. We’re so proud of him, but my three-headed giant named Worry-Anxiety-Fear has the chance to set up residence in our lives again. Like young David, this time I’m a little stronger and a little braver. I choose to claim the times I’ve already seen God work to protect us, the children he loves with limitless power and grace. I’ll go in to battle with the knowledge of what the cross has done….and choose to live dangerously.

(A theme song always helps, too)

Blessings, fellow giant slayers!


  1. Anonymous2/04/2014

    Thank your for being "dangerous" and sharing your story with us, Teresa. It is at once an encouragement and a challenge! ~ Chris Cooper

  2. Teresa, your post is both brave and painfully honest- 2 things required of us as we face the #DangerDays. Thanks so much for sharing. I am proud to have been your youth pastor and blessed to be your friend.

  3. Anonymous2/04/2014

    We'll be praying for you, Teresa! "Be strong and courageous!"

  4. Chris - I appreciate you reading! Being encouraged and challenged is a great combo, isn't it? Blessings!
    Carl - thanks for inviting me to write, and for being a great friend.


Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!