Last week, I started a leadership course on interacting with people experiencing homelessness and trauma. One session was about de-escalation. When a situation starts getting tense (in a library, for example), the protocol (as the person-in-charge) is to lean in. “Hi, I’m Debbie. What’s your name?” And then…wait for it…extend your hand for a handshake (if you feel comfortable with that). Afterwards, proceed with a respectful conversation about the situation.

I can’t tell you how much I love that.

In our society, there’s such a spirit of fear and loathing of the “other.” Keeping them out. But there’s another option. A spirit of generosity and genuine care. Inviting people in. Hanging out the welcome sign.

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV) Or said another way, “God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.” (The Message)

We can live in a spirit of fear (which paralyzes) or generosity (which frees). And here’s the beauty of it all. A spirit of power and lovingkindness doesn’t leave sensibility at the door. We can be smart and solutions-based without letting the spirit of fear win.

I once talked with a lady who told me she and her family never go downtown because of all the horrible things there. I asked, “So you never go to the symphony or art museum? You don’t have any urban friends?” She just said “nope.” I thought that was so sad. Fear won.

President Roosevelt once said, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

I’ve noticed that the more I lean in, the less fear I have.

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