NY Times #1 bestselling author Eric Metaxas finds meaning of the universe in a dream

New York Times #1 Bestselling Author Eric Metaxas

There’s no such thing as blind faith. The whole idea of blind faith is a misunderstanding of faith. Faith can only be faith in what is real. This ridiculous idea, which is so popular in our culture, that if you want to believe you got to check your brain at the door, that’s absurd. I mean, it’s totally wrong.

Some of the greatest minds I’ve ever met, people that are just extraordinary, brilliant, thoughtful, emotionally intelligent, emotionally mature people, are people of faith in Jesus. And, I think the tragedy of our culture and the culture that I grew up is that you don’t really see evidence of that.

My dad came from Greece in 1955, my mom came from Germany in 1954. They met in an English class in New York City, in Manhattan. We went to the Greek church and it was a wonderful community. It was a warm community, but it was mainly a community built around the idea of being Greek. That’s where the Greeks hung out, in the church. It was an ethnic community, but it was not really very much a community of faith.

My identity was getting good grades, being the smart kid and so I just assumed that I should go to some good school. That was not part of the culture that I grew up in. I went to a public school in Danbury, Connecticut. Nobody’s talking about wanting to go to these Ivy League schools. Of course, you don’t know what you’re getting into.


I have no clue and I’m so open minded. I had no idea what I believed or who I was. It got tough. It was very unpleasant.


But, I remember going to college and really thinking I don’t know what I believe. I have no clue and I’m so open minded that in an environment like Yale, particularly, it’s a very secular environment. You know, by the time I graduated I was really, absolutely at sea, I had no idea what I believed or who I was. It got tough. It was very unpleasant.

I was 24, moved back in with my folks, and my European immigrant parents were not thinking, “Oh, Eric must be a poet, a writer, he’s finding himself.” Their attitude is “You should find yourself a job.” The only thing I could do to make a buck was I got a job as a proof reader at Union Carbide. It was an awful, awful time, to work at a corporate environment as somebody who thinks himself a humorous and a poet and it was just horrible.

In the middle of this agony, I met a guy. He was a graphic designer at Union Carbide, a little bit older than I was. He had a wife and a kid and he befriended me. We’d just hang out and talk. He clearly was serious about his Christian faith. For a long time, that made me uncomfortable, because I’d been trained at Yale. We avoid people like this, these are weird people.

I remember this guy saying to me, “Eric, you should pray that God will reveal himself to you.” And I remember thinking that makes absolutely no sense, because if I don’t even know if God’s there, how am I going to pray to him? I don’t even if he exists.


I was blown away by the intellectual concept that you’re praying to this God that you think can heal people. So, it’s not just some vague energy force. You believe there is this God who cares.


But, if you are in enough pain you’ll do stupid stuff. So, I’d be jogging and, in my pain, I would just pray to God, “I need a sign. I’m just trapped. I’m trapped in my own mind, in my own way of seeing the world, there’s just no way out.”

Then my uncle Takis, he had a stroke. I remember this friend of mine, Ed Tuttle, the graphic designer, said to me that some of the folks at his church were praying for my uncle and I’ll never forget that I was blown away by the kindness of this.

I said, “Wow, that’s kind of amazing, that you don’t even know my uncle and you and people in your church are praying for my uncle.”

And I also was blown away by the intellectual concept that you’re praying to this God that you think can heal people. So, it’s not just some vague energy force. You believe there is this God who cares. I was moved. I wasn’t persuaded that this is real, but I was just moved by the concept of it.

And then one day that week, he asked me, “Would you like to pray for your uncle?”

And I said “Yeah.”

Up until then I was like, “No, I don’t want to pray, or do anything weird, go to church, or do Bible study.” But my uncle’s sick, let’s go pray.

And so he takes me to this bleak, fluorescent lit conference room at Union Carbide, just awful, and we go in there and close the door and he prays. I close my eyes, I had never done this before, ever. Now, imagine, I grew up in a church. I was an altar boy. Nobody prays, actually prays, like that.


God was speaking to me with what I call a secret vocabulary of my heart. This dream would have meant nothing to anyone else. It would have been just bizarre…. It’s like this paragraph just dropped into my head. God has just one-upped me.


My uncle passed away but I remember at the funeral, the priest asked me if I would read the Psalms. It was just kind of this thing, I thought, yeah, I want to do that. Like something was engaged basically for the first time.

And right around this time, I had a dream, around my 25th birthday, so 25 years ago. I had a dream and that dream changed everything. It was like a life changing, mind blowing dream. In the dream, I’m standing on Lake Candlewood in Danbury, Connecticut. It’s winter. I’m standing on the ice. I’m ice fishing with my buddy John and his dad.

It’s one of those glorious winter days where the sun is bright, the sky is incredibly blue, there’s white snow and ice. We’re standing there and I look down into the hole were we were fishing and there is a fish sticking its snout out of the hole. Now, if you ice fish, you may know that that never happens.

I reach down and I pick it up. I hold it up. And, in the dream, the light from the sun was so bright, and it shone on the side of this fish in a way that it made it look not bronze, but actually golden, like it was made of gold. Then, suddenly, in the dream I realize that, no, it’s not looking gold, it’s not just appearing to be gold, it’s actually golden. I’m holding up a living golden fish.


“Eric, you wanted to touch water, you wanted to touch inert water, this collective unconscious, this Eastern idea of this God force, but I have something else for you. I have my Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, your Savior.”


The way I look at the dream, in retrospect, is that God was speaking to me with what I call a secret vocabulary of my heart. This dream would have meant nothing to anyone else. It would have been just bizarre. In my twenties, after college, I finally came up with what I thought was a suitable answer to the meaning of the universe. I came up with this idea that, okay, it’s kind of a literary image, you have a frozen lake. The ice on the lake represents the conscious mind. And, the water beneath the ice represents the unconscious mind, with a collective unconscious and so that’s Carl Jung’s idea of God, this kind of Eastern God force. And so the goal of life and of all religions is basically the same, it’s to drill through the ice, the conscious mind, to reach the collective unconscious.

This was this kind of idea that I had come up with. So when I had the dream, obviously, it has unbelievable resonance. I’m holding this fish and I realize in the dream, it’s like this paragraph just dropped into my head…boom, boom…like I know. God has just one-upped me with my own simple system. In the dream, I’m aware, looking at this golden fish, like it’s out of a fairy tale, that God has just said to me, without a word, “Eric, you wanted to touch water, you wanted to touch inert water, this collective unconscious, this Eastern idea of this God force, but I have something else for you. I have my Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, your Savior.”

This was huge. In fact, I remember specifically, and this has meaning here, that when we would see the fish on the back of a car, the chrome fish, when they started popping up, in the 70’s, my father got really excited about telling me that this is a Greek word, that the Greek word for fish is Ichthys. And that’s an acronym Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr, (Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior). That’s where the Christians came up with the fish symbol.

So, in the dream I instantly knew all this came together and just blew my mind. You know, it was transcendent. I went to work the next day, and I told my friend, Ed Tuttle, that I had this dream and he says: “What do you think that means?” And I said “Well, it means I’ve accepted Jesus.”


People have said, “Faith is a leap into the dark.” Let’s switch the cliches: “Faith is leap into the light.” If it’s not true, I don’t want to believe it. If it’s just kind of helping me, a little bit, but it’s not ultimately true, then what are you believing in?


And I never, never would have said those words. I would cringe to say those words, in fact, I would have cringed if anybody else would say those words. I cringed when people said stuff like that. But I mean, what can I tell you? It was absolutely mind blowing.

People have said, “Faith is a leap into the dark.” Let’s switch the cliches: “Faith is leap into the light.” If it’s not true, I don’t want to believe it. If it’s just kind of helping me, a little bit, but it’s not ultimately true, then what are you believing in?

I remember the guy who I was talking to, my graphic designer friend Ed Tuttle, shared with me a scripture before I had become a Christian. And it was that famous scripture from Jeremiah, where God says: “I know the plans I have for you. Plans not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is no doubt in retrospect that God is real. And I wish I’d known that a lot sooner. To think that I can grow up in a church and go to one of the finest universities and never encounter any credible witness of this kind of faith, that says a lot about the culture we live in. God didn’t just create us. He invented the idea of us and he invented every single one of us. He knows us so intimately, so you cannot ever really know who you are apart from him. To know that my life is not a mistake, to know that my life is not meaningless, to really know, that’s freedom. That’s real freedom.

My name is Eric Metaxas, and I Am Second.

More Stories

Eric Metaxas White Chair Film– Watch Eric Metaxas tell his story in his own words in the I Am Second feature White Chair Film.

Winning gold made me feel like a failure– I can remember every detail about Beijing. I remember looking at her score and it was one point higher than the highest score I had conjured up in my mind. It was impossible for me to get a gold medal. I remember my heart just sinking.

Ryan Ries: If God’s real, I’m going to find him– You want to know words that would describe my life? I would just say fun, crazy, and out of control, wild ‘n out. Shooting heroine. A lot of girls, had a sex addiction.

Follow On Second Thought Blog

NY Times #1 bestselling author Eric Metaxas finds meaning of the universe in a dream

New York Times #1 Bestselling Author Eric Metaxas

There’s no such thing as blind faith. The whole idea of blind faith is a misunderstanding of faith. Faith can only be faith in what is real. This ridiculous idea, which is so popular in our culture, that if you want to believe you got to check your brain at the door, that’s absurd. I mean, it’s totally wrong.

Some of the greatest minds I’ve ever met, people that are just extraordinary, brilliant, thoughtful, emotionally intelligent, emotionally mature people, are people of faith in Jesus. And, I think the tragedy of our culture and the culture that I grew up is that you don’t really see evidence of that.

My dad came from Greece in 1955, my mom came from Germany in 1954. They met in an English class in New York City, in Manhattan. We went to the Greek church and it was a wonderful community. It was a warm community, but it was mainly a community built around the idea of being Greek. That’s where the Greeks hung out, in the church. It was an ethnic community, but it was not really very much a community of faith.

My identity was getting good grades, being the smart kid and so I just assumed that I should go to some good school. That was not part of the culture that I grew up in. I went to a public school in Danbury, Connecticut. Nobody’s talking about wanting to go to these Ivy League schools. Of course, you don’t know what you’re getting into.


I have no clue and I’m so open minded. I had no idea what I believed or who I was. It got tough. It was very unpleasant.


But, I remember going to college and really thinking I don’t know what I believe. I have no clue and I’m so open minded that in an environment like Yale, particularly, it’s a very secular environment. You know, by the time I graduated I was really, absolutely at sea, I had no idea what I believed or who I was. It got tough. It was very unpleasant.

I was 24, moved back in with my folks, and my European immigrant parents were not thinking, “Oh, Eric must be a poet, a writer, he’s finding himself.” Their attitude is “You should find yourself a job.” The only thing I could do to make a buck was I got a job as a proof reader at Union Carbide. It was an awful, awful time, to work at a corporate environment as somebody who thinks himself a humorous and a poet and it was just horrible.

In the middle of this agony, I met a guy. He was a graphic designer at Union Carbide, a little bit older than I was. He had a wife and a kid and he befriended me. We’d just hang out and talk. He clearly was serious about his Christian faith. For a long time, that made me uncomfortable, because I’d been trained at Yale. We avoid people like this, these are weird people.

I remember this guy saying to me, “Eric, you should pray that God will reveal himself to you.” And I remember thinking that makes absolutely no sense, because if I don’t even know if God’s there, how am I going to pray to him? I don’t even if he exists.


I was blown away by the intellectual concept that you’re praying to this God that you think can heal people. So, it’s not just some vague energy force. You believe there is this God who cares.


But, if you are in enough pain you’ll do stupid stuff. So, I’d be jogging and, in my pain, I would just pray to God, “I need a sign. I’m just trapped. I’m trapped in my own mind, in my own way of seeing the world, there’s just no way out.”

Then my uncle Takis, he had a stroke. I remember this friend of mine, Ed Tuttle, the graphic designer, said to me that some of the folks at his church were praying for my uncle and I’ll never forget that I was blown away by the kindness of this.

I said, “Wow, that’s kind of amazing, that you don’t even know my uncle and you and people in your church are praying for my uncle.”

And I also was blown away by the intellectual concept that you’re praying to this God that you think can heal people. So, it’s not just some vague energy force. You believe there is this God who cares. I was moved. I wasn’t persuaded that this is real, but I was just moved by the concept of it.

And then one day that week, he asked me, “Would you like to pray for your uncle?”

And I said “Yeah.”

Up until then I was like, “No, I don’t want to pray, or do anything weird, go to church, or do Bible study.” But my uncle’s sick, let’s go pray.

And so he takes me to this bleak, fluorescent lit conference room at Union Carbide, just awful, and we go in there and close the door and he prays. I close my eyes, I had never done this before, ever. Now, imagine, I grew up in a church. I was an altar boy. Nobody prays, actually prays, like that.


God was speaking to me with what I call a secret vocabulary of my heart. This dream would have meant nothing to anyone else. It would have been just bizarre…. It’s like this paragraph just dropped into my head. God has just one-upped me.


My uncle passed away but I remember at the funeral, the priest asked me if I would read the Psalms. It was just kind of this thing, I thought, yeah, I want to do that. Like something was engaged basically for the first time.

And right around this time, I had a dream, around my 25th birthday, so 25 years ago. I had a dream and that dream changed everything. It was like a life changing, mind blowing dream. In the dream, I’m standing on Lake Candlewood in Danbury, Connecticut. It’s winter. I’m standing on the ice. I’m ice fishing with my buddy John and his dad.

It’s one of those glorious winter days where the sun is bright, the sky is incredibly blue, there’s white snow and ice. We’re standing there and I look down into the hole were we were fishing and there is a fish sticking its snout out of the hole. Now, if you ice fish, you may know that that never happens.

I reach down and I pick it up. I hold it up. And, in the dream, the light from the sun was so bright, and it shone on the side of this fish in a way that it made it look not bronze, but actually golden, like it was made of gold. Then, suddenly, in the dream I realize that, no, it’s not looking gold, it’s not just appearing to be gold, it’s actually golden. I’m holding up a living golden fish.


“Eric, you wanted to touch water, you wanted to touch inert water, this collective unconscious, this Eastern idea of this God force, but I have something else for you. I have my Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, your Savior.”


The way I look at the dream, in retrospect, is that God was speaking to me with what I call a secret vocabulary of my heart. This dream would have meant nothing to anyone else. It would have been just bizarre. In my twenties, after college, I finally came up with what I thought was a suitable answer to the meaning of the universe. I came up with this idea that, okay, it’s kind of a literary image, you have a frozen lake. The ice on the lake represents the conscious mind. And, the water beneath the ice represents the unconscious mind, with a collective unconscious and so that’s Carl Jung’s idea of God, this kind of Eastern God force. And so the goal of life and of all religions is basically the same, it’s to drill through the ice, the conscious mind, to reach the collective unconscious.

This was this kind of idea that I had come up with. So when I had the dream, obviously, it has unbelievable resonance. I’m holding this fish and I realize in the dream, it’s like this paragraph just dropped into my head…boom, boom…like I know. God has just one-upped me with my own simple system. In the dream, I’m aware, looking at this golden fish, like it’s out of a fairy tale, that God has just said to me, without a word, “Eric, you wanted to touch water, you wanted to touch inert water, this collective unconscious, this Eastern idea of this God force, but I have something else for you. I have my Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, your Savior.”

This was huge. In fact, I remember specifically, and this has meaning here, that when we would see the fish on the back of a car, the chrome fish, when they started popping up, in the 70’s, my father got really excited about telling me that this is a Greek word, that the Greek word for fish is Ichthys. And that’s an acronym Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr, (Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior). That’s where the Christians came up with the fish symbol.

So, in the dream I instantly knew all this came together and just blew my mind. You know, it was transcendent. I went to work the next day, and I told my friend, Ed Tuttle, that I had this dream and he says: “What do you think that means?” And I said “Well, it means I’ve accepted Jesus.”


People have said, “Faith is a leap into the dark.” Let’s switch the cliches: “Faith is leap into the light.” If it’s not true, I don’t want to believe it. If it’s just kind of helping me, a little bit, but it’s not ultimately true, then what are you believing in?


And I never, never would have said those words. I would cringe to say those words, in fact, I would have cringed if anybody else would say those words. I cringed when people said stuff like that. But I mean, what can I tell you? It was absolutely mind blowing.

People have said, “Faith is a leap into the dark.” Let’s switch the cliches: “Faith is leap into the light.” If it’s not true, I don’t want to believe it. If it’s just kind of helping me, a little bit, but it’s not ultimately true, then what are you believing in?

I remember the guy who I was talking to, my graphic designer friend Ed Tuttle, shared with me a scripture before I had become a Christian. And it was that famous scripture from Jeremiah, where God says: “I know the plans I have for you. Plans not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is no doubt in retrospect that God is real. And I wish I’d known that a lot sooner. To think that I can grow up in a church and go to one of the finest universities and never encounter any credible witness of this kind of faith, that says a lot about the culture we live in. God didn’t just create us. He invented the idea of us and he invented every single one of us. He knows us so intimately, so you cannot ever really know who you are apart from him. To know that my life is not a mistake, to know that my life is not meaningless, to really know, that’s freedom. That’s real freedom.

My name is Eric Metaxas, and I Am Second.

More Stories

Eric Metaxas White Chair Film– Watch Eric Metaxas tell his story in his own words in the I Am Second feature White Chair Film.

Winning gold made me feel like a failure– I can remember every detail about Beijing. I remember looking at her score and it was one point higher than the highest score I had conjured up in my mind. It was impossible for me to get a gold medal. I remember my heart just sinking.

Ryan Ries: If God’s real, I’m going to find him– You want to know words that would describe my life? I would just say fun, crazy, and out of control, wild ‘n out. Shooting heroine. A lot of girls, had a sex addiction.

Follow On Second Thought Blog

Catching up with Moriah Peters: The story behind her new band, TRALA

Moriah Peters

Despite facing rejection from “American idol” judges in 2010, former contestant Moriah Peters hasn’t stopped releasing music since publically sharing her faith — and her choice to save her first kiss for marriage — to millions of television viewers. Peters’ courageous faith and talent garnered the attention of a Jesus follower with connections to the Nashville music industry, and the doors just haven’t stopped opening for her.

With two solo albums under her belt and a starring role in the new movie, “Because of Grácia,” Peters is now releasing singles with her new band, TRALA. She recently caught up with I Am Second via video chat, opening up about her music career, her marriage, and the message she wants to convey to America right now.*

IAS: Your first two albums, “I Choose Jesus,” and “Brave,” were solo. Why start a band now?

MP: After I finished touring for “Brave,” I was looking for serious direction. I took a trip to Israel and visited Mount Moriah, my namesake. I sat on top of that mountain and I just knew I was going to have a revelation that day. I prayed, God, what am I supposed to do next? Because I’m done with music.

IAS: You were done with music?

MP: I was tired of carrying my own brand and feeling alone — like I had done it all myself. I had a great label, management, and band. But at the end of the day, the CD and the banners had my name on it. There is something exhausting about constantly promoting yourself. When I was on top of that mountain, the very specific word [from God] I heard was, No you’re not done with music, this is just the beginning of another project that’s going to involve your bandmates. It’s going to be from a global perspective, and there aren’t going to be any limits or boundaries. I thought OK, if that’s what I’m supposed to do, than I’m going to do that.

IAS: So how’s writing music with TRALA [Peters and her former backup bandmates, Jesi Jones and Julie Melucci] for the first time going?

MP: It’s been refreshing and so fun. We wrote songs without any vision or concept of what we were supposed to do. We had no genre in mind, no limitations — we just wrote from our hearts.

IAS: Your first single, “Holy Collision,” charted alongside Depeche Mode in the alternative genre. What prompted you to not just release songs within the Christian genre?

MP: We let the music determine where we would go. When we looked at this body of work it fit into the alternative genre. What’s come out of it is magic, and I think what we’re trying to communicate through our songs is important.

IAS: What message is TRALA trying to communicate?

MP: We’re a group of musicians who lean on the truth of what we’re singing about and the skill of how it’s being played. We’re passionate about the message of our new single, “Creature Machine,” which is about the modern state of communication and technology. Our third single is about camaraderie and women coming together versus competing.

IAS: You’re in a new movie, “Because of Grácia,” released in September. In the trailer, you play a high school student who stands up for her faith in a public way that causes a stir, much like you did on “American Idol.” Did your own story inspire you to take the role?

MP: That was a huge part of it. The director, Tom Simes, came across my “I Am Second” film and asked me to audition. I was backstage on a tour on an iPhone and didn’t think anything would come of it. But I accepted the role because I want to convey the message that persecution is a privilege, which is exactly what it is.

IAS: That is a controversial statement, considering how divided our country is right now on so many issues.

MP: Not everybody has the opportunity to be in an environment where they are the minority. When you live in a world where you’re constantly part of the majority, I think you miss out on a lot of lessons to be learned — on every level — whether it’s belief systems or the culture of where you live. I’ve learned more about my Hispanic culture and the sacrifice of my ancestors since moving to Nashville than I ever did growing up in Los Angeles.

IAS: How?

MP: I was the majority in Los Angeles. Everybody spoke Spanish and there were great tacos on every corner. Then I moved to Nashville and I was like, “Where are all my brown people at?” [laughs] I ran into some weird situations since then, feeling the racial tension of what we’re facing today as a country. Because I experienced that, I am more appreciative of where I’ve come from, and what my parents and grandparents have done for me.

IAS: Switching gears. It was inspiring to see you wait for marriage for that first kiss. These days, how are you keeping your marriage strong as you and your husband [pop performer Joel Smallbone] continue to stay busy with new projects?

MP: The challenging part about our marriage is the distance. When we each have a show on the same day it’s difficult. But it’s all we’ve ever known, so we cherish the moments we have together. It makes it difficult to take each other for granted.

IAS: Any final thoughts?

MP: When I look at what TRALA is doing — the songs we’re releasing, the girls I get to work alongside — none of this was supposed to happen. None of this was a part of my plan; I quit on that mountain. All of this feels like an added blessing. It gives you more gratitude for what you have.

In November, TRALA will release its third single and perform with Winter Jam, Christian music’s largest annual tour. TRALA’s first full album is slated for release early 2018. You can check out Moriah Peter’s new band and their music at www.tralamusic.com

*Interview edited for clarity and brevity

Whitney Thompson is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas. She has written for several publications including Advocate magazine, Prison Fellowship’s Inside Journal, and Upper Room’s Teen Devozine.

Follow On Second Thought Blog

Catching up with Moriah Peters: The story behind her new band, TRALA

Moriah Peters

Despite facing rejection from “American idol” judges in 2010, former contestant Moriah Peters hasn’t stopped releasing music since publically sharing her faith — and her choice to save her first kiss for marriage — to millions of television viewers. Peters’ courageous faith and talent garnered the attention of a Jesus follower with connections to the Nashville music industry, and the doors just haven’t stopped opening for her.

With two solo albums under her belt and a starring role in the new movie, “Because of Grácia,” Peters is now releasing singles with her new band, TRALA. She recently caught up with I Am Second via video chat, opening up about her music career, her marriage, and the message she wants to convey to America right now.*

IAS: Your first two albums, “I Choose Jesus,” and “Brave,” were solo. Why start a band now?

MP: After I finished touring for “Brave,” I was looking for serious direction. I took a trip to Israel and visited Mount Moriah, my namesake. I sat on top of that mountain and I just knew I was going to have a revelation that day. I prayed, God, what am I supposed to do next? Because I’m done with music.

IAS: You were done with music?

MP: I was tired of carrying my own brand and feeling alone — like I had done it all myself. I had a great label, management, and band. But at the end of the day, the CD and the banners had my name on it. There is something exhausting about constantly promoting yourself. When I was on top of that mountain, the very specific word [from God] I heard was, No you’re not done with music, this is just the beginning of another project that’s going to involve your bandmates. It’s going to be from a global perspective, and there aren’t going to be any limits or boundaries. I thought OK, if that’s what I’m supposed to do, than I’m going to do that.

IAS: So how’s writing music with TRALA [Peters and her former backup bandmates, Jesi Jones and Julie Melucci] for the first time going?

MP: It’s been refreshing and so fun. We wrote songs without any vision or concept of what we were supposed to do. We had no genre in mind, no limitations — we just wrote from our hearts.

IAS: Your first single, “Holy Collision,” charted alongside Depeche Mode in the alternative genre. What prompted you to not just release songs within the Christian genre?

MP: We let the music determine where we would go. When we looked at this body of work it fit into the alternative genre. What’s come out of it is magic, and I think what we’re trying to communicate through our songs is important.

IAS: What message is TRALA trying to communicate?

MP: We’re a group of musicians who lean on the truth of what we’re singing about and the skill of how it’s being played. We’re passionate about the message of our new single, “Creature Machine,” which is about the modern state of communication and technology. Our third single is about camaraderie and women coming together versus competing.

IAS: You’re in a new movie, “Because of Grácia,” released in September. In the trailer, you play a high school student who stands up for her faith in a public way that causes a stir, much like you did on “American Idol.” Did your own story inspire you to take the role?

MP: That was a huge part of it. The director, Tom Simes, came across my “I Am Second” film and asked me to audition. I was backstage on a tour on an iPhone and didn’t think anything would come of it. But I accepted the role because I want to convey the message that persecution is a privilege, which is exactly what it is.

IAS: That is a controversial statement, considering how divided our country is right now on so many issues.

MP: Not everybody has the opportunity to be in an environment where they are the minority. When you live in a world where you’re constantly part of the majority, I think you miss out on a lot of lessons to be learned — on every level — whether it’s belief systems or the culture of where you live. I’ve learned more about my Hispanic culture and the sacrifice of my ancestors since moving to Nashville than I ever did growing up in Los Angeles.

IAS: How?

MP: I was the majority in Los Angeles. Everybody spoke Spanish and there were great tacos on every corner. Then I moved to Nashville and I was like, “Where are all my brown people at?” [laughs] I ran into some weird situations since then, feeling the racial tension of what we’re facing today as a country. Because I experienced that, I am more appreciative of where I’ve come from, and what my parents and grandparents have done for me.

IAS: Switching gears. It was inspiring to see you wait for marriage for that first kiss. These days, how are you keeping your marriage strong as you and your husband [pop performer Joel Smallbone] continue to stay busy with new projects?

MP: The challenging part about our marriage is the distance. When we each have a show on the same day it’s difficult. But it’s all we’ve ever known, so we cherish the moments we have together. It makes it difficult to take each other for granted.

IAS: Any final thoughts?

MP: When I look at what TRALA is doing — the songs we’re releasing, the girls I get to work alongside — none of this was supposed to happen. None of this was a part of my plan; I quit on that mountain. All of this feels like an added blessing. It gives you more gratitude for what you have.

In November, TRALA will release its third single and perform with Winter Jam, Christian music’s largest annual tour. TRALA’s first full album is slated for release early 2018. You can check out Moriah Peter’s new band and their music at www.tralamusic.com

*Interview edited for clarity and brevity

Whitney Thompson is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas. She has written for several publications including Advocate magazine, Prison Fellowship’s Inside Journal, and Upper Room’s Teen Devozine.

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How loving someone else helped me love my wife

Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

My wife and I celebrated our nine year anniversary last week. Undoubtedly, the best years of our marriage have been the most recent ones. But, you may not suspect the reason why.

It’s not because we were just joined by our firstborn, Ember. Nor is it because we’ve resolved all of our disagreements and harmonized all of our differences. And, it’s certainly not because we’ve settled into comfort; in fact, quite the opposite, we recently quit our jobs, sold everything, and moved to Hawaii.

The reason is, well, each of us fell in love with someone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we still love one other, very much. Arguably, more than ever. But, that’s a direct result of the other person each of us fell in love with: ourselves.


One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.


Erin, that’s my wife, and I, met and married in our early twenties. While I know that our affections and desire to commit were sincere, I also know, now more than ever, that we were young. Ignorant to the realities we would face in the years to come and what we would discover, with one another, and about ourselves.

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.

I was hurt by my broken home; hurt that I had been kicked out of my Mom’s house (deserved), then my Dad’s (debatable), hurt that those explosions were expressions of relationships that were stunted and severed. Hurt that I had been neglected and all but forgotten. I was hurt by countless choices I had made, choices that I thought would help and heal my hurts, but only made them worse. And I was hurting from the elongated absence of my brother, Scott. He was my best friend and my functional father, but he was also an addict; worsening in his addiction, so he’d been gone for years.

But all of that hurt was a drop in an ocean of devastation when Scott died of an overdose.


I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism.


Just a month before his death I had confessed my love to Erin. Like a Catholic priest, she received my confession in silence and responded by sending me away.

She just wasn’t there and felt it would be best for us to let it breathe. So, it breathed as she went away to work at a summer camp. A month into that summer break, an emergency phone call summoned her to our unexpected reunion.

Hours after Scott died, I called Erin. We had only known one another for a year at that point, but I called because I knew she cared. I knew she would listen and help, be there for me, and feel. After all, we had spent the better part of that year getting to know one another, primarily on the phone. Separated by some 400 miles, with social media in it’s infancy, our foundation was built on late night calls, Gmail chats, and endless 160 character texts. We were firmly in the friend zone and that buffer helped us build a relationship that has yielded quite a harvest over the years. Although, at that point, the harvest was looking like slim pickings. Still, I called.

Through that conversation, summer silence was ceased. And for more than a decade, in and out of season, Erin has continued to care, listen, help, be there, and feel. And she’s teaching me to do the same; specifically, to feel. See, in hindsight, I wasn’t aware of all of my hurts. I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism. Sadly, Scott’s (coping mechanism) was lethal, but I know his pain and I carry it still. I carried it into my marriage and burdened Erin with it’s weight, until it almost buried us.

Nearing divorce, we found ourselves in couples counseling. Couples counseling led to individual counseling and years of both have lead to my second love: myself.

In any relationship that is healthy and life-giving, truth and love are united. Love never relinquishes itself to lies and truth never yields itself as a weapon. Truth, on the lips of love, is aloe to burn, a beautiful balm to brokenness, a soothing salve on the sting of selfishness and self-sabotage. Love speaks the truth, to it’s beloved, to allow the beloved to begin to love himself, or herself, as love does. For, not until we love ourselves can we love anyone. After all, that is the appeal being made through the old sage words: “love your neighbor as yourself.


But loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.


Loving myself, in this season, includes an intentional effort to excavate experiences, unearth emotions, and feel feelings that I’ve long suppressed. To mourn for a much younger Sean, a boy whose childhood was stolen, whose innocence was robbed, whose security was sacrificed. To face the fears of feeling. Feeling love, trust, and respect for someone. Feeling vulnerable and open to them. Realizing that I’m afraid to feel all of that because people fail, and disappoint, and when I’ve opened myself to them, and they inevitably do, it hurts.

But, loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.

Erin and I have been moving and growing for more than nine years now. I can’t fathom who I would be without her. Erin is my first love and the entirety of my existence has been redefined by her and because of her. I wonder who I’ll be when I celebrate my nine year anniversary with my second love; myself.

Sean Little’s love for language was conceived by early 90’s rap and cultivated by hip-hop culture. In the traditions of both, narrative is the nucleus of his writing. Sean recently sold everything to leave his life in Indiana and moved to Hawaii with his wife and daughter. Sean has toured nationally/internationally as a rapper and speaker, pastored in a local church, and is a featured Second in an I Am Second white chair film.

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How loving someone else helped me love my wife

Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

My wife and I celebrated our nine year anniversary last week. Undoubtedly, the best years of our marriage have been the most recent ones. But, you may not suspect the reason why.

It’s not because we were just joined by our firstborn, Ember. Nor is it because we’ve resolved all of our disagreements and harmonized all of our differences. And, it’s certainly not because we’ve settled into comfort; in fact, quite the opposite, we recently quit our jobs, sold everything, and moved to Hawaii.

The reason is, well, each of us fell in love with someone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we still love one other, very much. Arguably, more than ever. But, that’s a direct result of the other person each of us fell in love with: ourselves.


One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.


Erin, that’s my wife, and I, met and married in our early twenties. While I know that our affections and desire to commit were sincere, I also know, now more than ever, that we were young. Ignorant to the realities we would face in the years to come and what we would discover, with one another, and about ourselves.

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.

I was hurt by my broken home; hurt that I had been kicked out of my Mom’s house (deserved), then my Dad’s (debatable), hurt that those explosions were expressions of relationships that were stunted and severed. Hurt that I had been neglected and all but forgotten. I was hurt by countless choices I had made, choices that I thought would help and heal my hurts, but only made them worse. And I was hurting from the elongated absence of my brother, Scott. He was my best friend and my functional father, but he was also an addict; worsening in his addiction, so he’d been gone for years.

But all of that hurt was a drop in an ocean of devastation when Scott died of an overdose.


I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism.


Just a month before his death I had confessed my love to Erin. Like a Catholic priest, she received my confession in silence and responded by sending me away.

She just wasn’t there and felt it would be best for us to let it breathe. So, it breathed as she went away to work at a summer camp. A month into that summer break, an emergency phone call summoned her to our unexpected reunion.

Hours after Scott died, I called Erin. We had only known one another for a year at that point, but I called because I knew she cared. I knew she would listen and help, be there for me, and feel. After all, we had spent the better part of that year getting to know one another, primarily on the phone. Separated by some 400 miles, with social media in it’s infancy, our foundation was built on late night calls, Gmail chats, and endless 160 character texts. We were firmly in the friend zone and that buffer helped us build a relationship that has yielded quite a harvest over the years. Although, at that point, the harvest was looking like slim pickings. Still, I called.

Through that conversation, summer silence was ceased. And for more than a decade, in and out of season, Erin has continued to care, listen, help, be there, and feel. And she’s teaching me to do the same; specifically, to feel. See, in hindsight, I wasn’t aware of all of my hurts. I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism. Sadly, Scott’s (coping mechanism) was lethal, but I know his pain and I carry it still. I carried it into my marriage and burdened Erin with it’s weight, until it almost buried us.

Nearing divorce, we found ourselves in couples counseling. Couples counseling led to individual counseling and years of both have lead to my second love: myself.

In any relationship that is healthy and life-giving, truth and love are united. Love never relinquishes itself to lies and truth never yields itself as a weapon. Truth, on the lips of love, is aloe to burn, a beautiful balm to brokenness, a soothing salve on the sting of selfishness and self-sabotage. Love speaks the truth, to it’s beloved, to allow the beloved to begin to love himself, or herself, as love does. For, not until we love ourselves can we love anyone. After all, that is the appeal being made through the old sage words: “love your neighbor as yourself.


But loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.


Loving myself, in this season, includes an intentional effort to excavate experiences, unearth emotions, and feel feelings that I’ve long suppressed. To mourn for a much younger Sean, a boy whose childhood was stolen, whose innocence was robbed, whose security was sacrificed. To face the fears of feeling. Feeling love, trust, and respect for someone. Feeling vulnerable and open to them. Realizing that I’m afraid to feel all of that because people fail, and disappoint, and when I’ve opened myself to them, and they inevitably do, it hurts.

But, loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.

Erin and I have been moving and growing for more than nine years now. I can’t fathom who I would be without her. Erin is my first love and the entirety of my existence has been redefined by her and because of her. I wonder who I’ll be when I celebrate my nine year anniversary with my second love; myself.

Sean Little’s love for language was conceived by early 90’s rap and cultivated by hip-hop culture. In the traditions of both, narrative is the nucleus of his writing. Sean recently sold everything to leave his life in Indiana and moved to Hawaii with his wife and daughter. Sean has toured nationally/internationally as a rapper and speaker, pastored in a local church, and is a featured Second in an I Am Second white chair film.

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Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

-by Sean Little

My wife and I celebrated our nine year anniversary last week. Undoubtedly, the best years of our marriage have been the most recent ones. But, you may not suspect the reason why.

It’s not because we were just joined by our firstborn, Ember. Nor is it because we’ve resolved all of our disagreements and harmonized all of our differences. And, it’s certainly not because we’ve settled into comfort; in fact, quite the opposite, we recently quit our jobs, sold everything, and moved to Hawaii.

The reason is, well, each of us fell in love with someone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we still love one other, very much. Arguably, more than ever. But, that’s a direct result of the other person each of us fell in love with: ourselves.


One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.


Erin, that’s my wife, and I, met and married in our early twenties. While I know that our affections and desire to commit were sincere, I also know, now more than ever, that we were young. Ignorant to the realities we would face in the years to come and what we would discover, with one another, and about ourselves.

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.

I was hurt by my broken home; hurt that I had been kicked out of my Mom’s house (deserved), then my Dad’s (debatable), hurt that those explosions were expressions of relationships that were stunted and severed. Hurt that I had been neglected and all but forgotten. I was hurt by countless choices I had made, choices that I thought would help and heal my hurts, but only made them worse. And I was hurting from the elongated absence of my brother, Scott. He was my best friend and my functional father, but he was also an addict; worsening in his addiction, so he’d been gone for years.

But all of that hurt was a drop in an ocean of devastation when Scott died of an overdose.


I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism.


Just a month before his death I had confessed my love to Erin. Like a Catholic priest, she received my confession in silence and responded by sending me away.

She just wasn’t there and felt it would be best for us to let it breathe. So, it breathed as she went away to work at a summer camp. A month into that summer break, an emergency phone call summoned her to our unexpected reunion.

Hours after Scott died, I called Erin. We had only known one another for a year at that point, but I called because I knew she cared. I knew she would listen and help, be there for me, and feel. After all, we had spent the better part of that year getting to know one another, primarily on the phone. Separated by some 400 miles, with social media in it’s infancy, our foundation was built on late night calls, Gmail chats, and endless 160 character texts. We were firmly in the friend zone and that buffer helped us build a relationship that has yielded quite a harvest over the years. Although, at that point, the harvest was looking like slim pickings. Still, I called.

Through that conversation, summer silence was ceased. And for more than a decade, in and out of season, Erin has continued to care, listen, help, be there, and feel. And she’s teaching me to do the same; specifically, to feel. See, in hindsight, I wasn’t aware of all of my hurts. I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism. Sadly, Scott’s (coping mechanism) was lethal, but I know his pain and I carry it still. I carried it into my marriage and burdened Erin with it’s weight, until it almost buried us. 

Nearing divorce, we found ourselves in couples counseling. Couples counseling led to individual counseling and years of both have lead to my second love: myself.

In any relationship that is healthy and life-giving, truth and love are united. Love never relinquishes itself to lies and truth never yields itself as a weapon. Truth, on the lips of love, is aloe to burn, a beautiful balm to brokenness, a soothing salve on the sting of selfishness and self-sabotage. Love speaks the truth, to it’s beloved, to allow the beloved to begin to love himself, or herself, as love does. For, not until we love ourselves can we love anyone. After all, that is the appeal being made through the old sage words: “love your neighbor as yourself.” 


But loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.


Loving myself, in this season, includes an intentional effort to excavate experiences, unearth emotions, and feel feelings that I’ve long suppressed. To mourn for a much younger Sean, a boy whose childhood was stolen, whose innocence was robbed, whose security was sacrificed. To face the fears of feeling. Feeling love, trust, and respect for someone. Feeling vulnerable and open to them. Realizing that I’m afraid to feel all of that because people fail, and disappoint, and when I’ve opened myself to them, and they inevitably do, it hurts.

But, loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.

Erin and I have been moving and growing for more than nine years now. I can’t fathom who I would be without her. Erin is my first love and the entirety of my existence has been redefined by her and because of her. I wonder who I’ll be when I celebrate my nine year anniversary with my second love; myself.

Sean Little’s love for language was conceived by early 90’s rap and cultivated by hip-hop culture. In the traditions of both, narrative is the nucleus of his writing. Sean recently sold everything to leave his life in Indiana and moved to Hawaii with his wife and daughter. Sean has toured nationally/internationally as a rapper and speaker, pastored in a local church, and is a featured Second in an I Am Second white chair film.

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Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

-by Sean Little

My wife and I celebrated our nine year anniversary last week. Undoubtedly, the best years of our marriage have been the most recent ones. But, you may not suspect the reason why.

It’s not because we were just joined by our firstborn, Ember. Nor is it because we’ve resolved all of our disagreements and harmonized all of our differences. And, it’s certainly not because we’ve settled into comfort; in fact, quite the opposite, we recently quit our jobs, sold everything, and moved to Hawaii.

The reason is, well, each of us fell in love with someone else.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we still love one other, very much. Arguably, more than ever. But, that’s a direct result of the other person each of us fell in love with: ourselves.


One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.


Erin, that’s my wife, and I, met and married in our early twenties. While I know that our affections and desire to commit were sincere, I also know, now more than ever, that we were young. Ignorant to the realities we would face in the years to come and what we would discover, with one another, and about ourselves.

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am hurt. Specifically, in the season that I met Erin, I was hurting, deeply, about a lot.

I was hurt by my broken home; hurt that I had been kicked out of my Mom’s house (deserved), then my Dad’s (debatable), hurt that those explosions were expressions of relationships that were stunted and severed. Hurt that I had been neglected and all but forgotten. I was hurt by countless choices I had made, choices that I thought would help and heal my hurts, but only made them worse. And I was hurting from the elongated absence of my brother, Scott. He was my best friend and my functional father, but he was also an addict; worsening in his addiction, so he’d been gone for years.

But all of that hurt was a drop in an ocean of devastation when Scott died of an overdose.


I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism.


Just a month before his death I had confessed my love to Erin. Like a Catholic priest, she received my confession in silence and responded by sending me away.

She just wasn’t there and felt it would be best for us to let it breathe. So, it breathed as she went away to work at a summer camp. A month into that summer break, an emergency phone call summoned her to our unexpected reunion.

Hours after Scott died, I called Erin. We had only known one another for a year at that point, but I called because I knew she cared. I knew she would listen and help, be there for me, and feel. After all, we had spent the better part of that year getting to know one another, primarily on the phone. Separated by some 400 miles, with social media in it’s infancy, our foundation was built on late night calls, Gmail chats, and endless 160 character texts. We were firmly in the friend zone and that buffer helped us build a relationship that has yielded quite a harvest over the years. Although, at that point, the harvest was looking like slim pickings. Still, I called.

Through that conversation, summer silence was ceased. And for more than a decade, in and out of season, Erin has continued to care, listen, help, be there, and feel. And she’s teaching me to do the same; specifically, to feel. See, in hindsight, I wasn’t aware of all of my hurts. I was just so conditioned to being hurt that I became numb. Consciously and unconsciously, I worked to not feel. That was my coping mechanism. Sadly, Scott’s (coping mechanism) was lethal, but I know his pain and I carry it still. I carried it into my marriage and burdened Erin with it’s weight, until it almost buried us. 

Nearing divorce, we found ourselves in couples counseling. Couples counseling led to individual counseling and years of both have lead to my second love: myself.

In any relationship that is healthy and life-giving, truth and love are united. Love never relinquishes itself to lies and truth never yields itself as a weapon. Truth, on the lips of love, is aloe to burn, a beautiful balm to brokenness, a soothing salve on the sting of selfishness and self-sabotage. Love speaks the truth, to it’s beloved, to allow the beloved to begin to love himself, or herself, as love does. For, not until we love ourselves can we love anyone. After all, that is the appeal being made through the old sage words: “love your neighbor as yourself.” 


But loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.


Loving myself, in this season, includes an intentional effort to excavate experiences, unearth emotions, and feel feelings that I’ve long suppressed. To mourn for a much younger Sean, a boy whose childhood was stolen, whose innocence was robbed, whose security was sacrificed. To face the fears of feeling. Feeling love, trust, and respect for someone. Feeling vulnerable and open to them. Realizing that I’m afraid to feel all of that because people fail, and disappoint, and when I’ve opened myself to them, and they inevitably do, it hurts.

But, loving myself also includes not allowing myself, and my relationships, to remain restrained by my hurts. Loving myself means mourning and grieving, yes, but also moving and growing.

Erin and I have been moving and growing for more than nine years now. I can’t fathom who I would be without her. Erin is my first love and the entirety of my existence has been redefined by her and because of her. I wonder who I’ll be when I celebrate my nine year anniversary with my second love; myself.

Sean Little’s love for language was conceived by early 90’s rap and cultivated by hip-hop culture. In the traditions of both, narrative is the nucleus of his writing. Sean recently sold everything to leave his life in Indiana and moved to Hawaii with his wife and daughter. Sean has toured nationally/internationally as a rapper and speaker, pastored in a local church, and is a featured Second in an I Am Second white chair film.

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The lies I told and the freedom I found

The truth will set you free

Lying to yourself and others is never a static exercise. You can’t lie and just let it sit there. You have to file it away in your memory and keep track of all those who might be touched by it.  If you have to substantiate the lie, you have to remember exactly what you said.  And you have to get increasingly good at it if you want to keep all of your stories straight and not get caught. I’ve always admired people who could just go through life completely telling the truth all the time – people who didn’t flinch when it came time to share something that might cast them in a bad light. I’m sure now that that is the best way to live.

It’s completely exhausting to keep lying all the time. And sometimes, you find yourself lying when it’s not even necessary. It just becomes so much a part of who you are and how you do things that it becomes your default mode for operating in the world.

I usually lied because I was trying to keep someone else from experiencing pain. This started in high school. I was doing things (smoking, drinking, etc) every weekend that I didn’t want my parents to know about. Instead of causing them the pain that the truth would bring, I would just lie. It seemed much more painless at the time, but just like anything else in life, there is a price to be paid. If I don’t pay it on the front end, it always comes back to me later from another direction – one that I didn’t anticipate – and I always know in that moment that the facade is coming down. It’s always just a matter of time. There are few feelings that are worse than being caught in a lie.


“Mistakes are always forgivable if you have the courage to admit them.” -Bruce Lee


You can store away any number of lies for a very long time, but eventually the walls start to crumble on your storage unit. The hinges start to rust a little on the doors. The lies are getting ready to come falling down in an avalanche like a bunch of junk in an overstuffed closet. When that moment finally comes, there is an odd sense of relief combined with all kinds of negative emotions. You’ll ask yourself why you lied. You’ll ask yourself why you didn’t come clean much, much sooner.

I remember walking into the house late at night when I was in high school.  I had usually been smoking cigarettes all night long in my car.  It didn’t really occur to me that I smelled like a giant cigarette.  It was obvious that I had been smoking.  It was also obvious that my mom knew that I had been smoking, and because of the history of disease in our family from smoking, she would have much preferred that I wasn’t doing it.  But when she would ask me if I had been smoking, even though it was obvious, I would lie.  I would say that I had been with some other kids who were smoking, or something else that would absolve me from responsibility.  It felt like I was getting away with something, even though I wasn’t.


“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it’ll always get you the right ones.” -John Lennon


Because lies are like weights. You think that you’re dropping them off as you lie – leaving them on your path like a lifeless brick or broken tree branch. You think they’ll just lay there where you put them, but they don’t. They hop up on your shoulders before you even take a step, while you think you’re walking away clean. Each one is not that heavy on it’s own, but they begin to add up and the weight gets heavier and heavier.

When I’m attempting to avoid pain by telling a lie, I’m always surprised by how much worse the situation becomes on the back side. Sometimes it feels like it’s too late the tell the truth, when logic should tell me that it gets nothing but later and later the longer I wait. The truth does indeed hurt sometimes, but it’s never hurt me anywhere near as deeply as lies do.

There is one possible exception to this, and I heard it from none other that Billy Graham, the famous evangelist.  I was reading something he said regarding infidelity in the newspaper years ago.  He said that if there is something in your past that you lied about – say, an affair – but you have totally cleaned up your act, and the truth would bring nothing but pain, then you get to carry that one to your grave. So, we’re really not off the hook. We get to carry it around with us.

And it’s not like a cute little puppy. It’s ugly. It stinks. And it lives with us forever. It’s better to save ourselves some pain and tell the truth from the beginning. Better yet, I’m learning to not engage in behaviors that I feel compelled to lie about later. That ugly, stinky pet is not something that I want to live with.


“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” -Johnny Cash


Lying is a habit just like many other things that we do day in and day out. It can be stopped through practice, just as it was started through practice. I’ve lived with a clear conscience and I’ve lived under a web of lies. A clear conscience feels like sitting on a nice outdoor patio enjoying a cold beverage on a beautiful day. A conscience full of lies feels like living in a cramped, stuffy attic full of cobwebs. We get to choose here. We’re the only ones keeping ourselves from living on the patio.

Ironically, if you’re not willing to come clean, you’ll attempt to unburden yourself by telling even more lies to cover up the ones you already told. This is foolish, and part of you knows it, but you would rather take your chances by adding another lie, hoping that someday there will be a way to get out from under all this weight without hurting yourself or someone else. And that, my friend, is the biggest lie of all, and you’re telling it to yourself. Lies don’t resolve that way. They don’t just disappear into thin air. And they don’t shrink or die with time. They’re alive the minute you breathe life into them and they keep on growing until you kill them with the truth.

Stan Fletcher’s day job is showing people around Lieper’s Fork Distillery as a tour guide.  He writes music, plays the guitar, and performs weekly at various spots around Nashville.  He has been involved in various aspects of I Am Second since the beginning of 2016.  Stan was a pastor in Seattle and Scottsdale for 13 years.

Read More from Stan Fletcher

My wife got married today– Ironically, when I started the affair and stepped outside of my marriage, I was trying to escape pain.

I witnessed country stars Josh Turner and Randy Travis do something I’ll never forget- Music speaks to the soul like few other things do.  The older I get, I think this becomes more and more true.  Each year adds a year’s worth of experience to our life resume’, and each year we’re likely to relate with more songs.

How Mike Fisher made a hockey fan out of a Texas country boy– I have never followed professional hockey in my life. I grew up in the Panhandle of Texas, and I’m not sure that there was even a single hockey rink in those hundreds of square miles.

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4 things I wish I could tell my high school self

1. You are the only one who thinks you have weird elbows

Yup. You read that right. I had issues with my elbows. I used to wear oversize t-shirts to ensure that no one caught glimpse of my knobby elbows. I avoided shorts for the same reason. I’d suck in my bottom lip so people wouldn’t notice how fat it was. I huddled along the edges of rooms to hide my backside. My hands never knew where to go. And whenever I walked, I knew everyone secretly snickered at my funny stride. Turns out, the only people who ever really think these things of others are those who think even worse about themselves. Knowing how insecure we all are, somehow, gives me security in knowing that I’m not so bad and neither are you. Maybe I could have said that to people a bit more back then.

2. Even the cool kids need a friend

I was lonely. Deeply and severely. I just wanted a friend. I remember even buying a book one time entitled, “How to Make Friends.” There’s my nerdy side coming out. I’ve since learned that everyone is lonely. Everyone wants a friend. Our coping mechanisms look different, but we’re all lonely. The shy kid (me) coped by withdrawal, the popular kid by overconfidence or people pleasing. But we all did what we did with the sole hope that someone would like us for it. But the best way to make a friend is to be a friend because we’re all looking for one. Knowing this about the people I meet has turned everyone into a potential new friend. And that’s a lesson, I wish I knew a lot sooner in life.

3. You’ll miss your family

Someone once told me that when we are young, our parents know everything. Then, in our teenage years they seem to forget it all. But somewhere around our mid-twenties they remember it all again, and we are amazed at all our parents did for us. That’s how it seems looking back. But I now live a thousand miles from much of my family and there’s no going back to when we’d play football in the back yard or make cheesy popcorn for movie night. I just wished I’d appreciated my family more before we all moved away and learned the hard way that our parents weren’t so bad after all.

4. Grades are good, people are better

I never got straight A’s, but I tried. I worried about grades, tests, and college applications. But success, in all its forms, has always overpromised and underdelivered. I wrote a national bestselling book once, and I had a lot of old classmates call up to congratulate me. They asked me to come speak at their schools, make a video for their organizations, or post something on behalf of their causes. I made it to the top, I’m a bestselling author. But I’m no happier. I found some cheap friendships along the way, made some money, but, in the end, none of it really mattered. It’s not what makes me happy. Knowing I’m loved is all I need to be happy. Knowing that God loves me, my wife loves me, my friends and family love me, this is what gives meaning to life. Grades, career, and money never earned me any love.

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer, small groups coach, and author of I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives. and Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First.


More from Doug Bender

Why your life motto can’t just be a wristband It’s a thing, nowadays, to wear your cause on your wrist. It’s a way to define yourself, to differentiate, and express yourself. It’s a way to shout to the world your life motto. But I want to push you to go beyond inspiration and interest.

13 Reasons Why NOT: an Open Letter to My Friend Who Committed Suicide- I was the last person you ever called and I missed it. I’m still not sure how it happened. But you took your life before I could call you back. I remember calling the next day. Your mom answered and said they couldn’t find you.

The Sad Reason I Only Wear Brand Name T-Shirts– I find myself leaning on money and stuff for happiness. I haven’t learned to beat it yet. I’d like to be perfectly content with any financial situation. I’m not.