My Fathers

I stood in the laundry room with piles of clothes at my feet, feeling my dad’s arms wrap around me and his scruffy beard scratch my forehead as he kissed me, whispering, “I am proud of you.” Hours later, I boarded my Williams-bound plane, my eyes moist with tears and my heart bursting with love for the family I was leaving behind.

I cherished my dad’s words of affirmation because his praise, though infrequent, is thoughtful and meaningful. The development of my relationship with my dad has involved a tension between my high regard for and my fear of him. Even though I’m not “afraid” of him per se, I am intimidated by his intellectual superiority. My recent high school diploma pales in comparison to his numerous graduate degrees. When I was younger, I hesitated to confide in him because I worried about sounding immature. Over time, my dad has shown me through his words and actions that he loves me completely, imperfections and all. We are close now; I ask him for advice and tell him stories about Williams, and he asks me lots of questions.

Even though I see my dad as superior, his love has opened the door for us to have a close relationship. Similarly, God’s love bridges the gap between His perfection and my humanity so that God and I can have a deeply personal relationship. For some unfathomable reason, the indescribable God of the universe desires intimate relationships with human beings, including me. Acknowledging God’s greatness and accepting His love brings me closer to Him. The fact that He is perfect but still loves me makes me want to get to know Him better. Like many relationships, the process of getting closer involves daily communication. I like to write and pray to God, and I listen for His responses as I sit in silence, sing worship songs, or read the Bible. I can interact intimately with God because Jesus’ death and resurrection made a way for me to commune with Him. I do not have to worry about sounding immature when I talk to God because although He is so much greater than me, He will never reject me.

As we grow closer, God’s love and acceptance help me trust Him more. I remember drawing a series of doors and windows in my prayer journal senior year, labeling them with the various colleges to which I had applied. I prayed, “God, have Your way with me. Open and shut doors.” I thought He wanted me to go to Dartmouth, so when I was deferred in the fall of my senior year, I felt angry and confused. Through prayer, God helped me realize that Williams was a better fit for me. There is a verse in the Bible that captures how God can take away something good and give something better. It reads, “Instead of bronze I [God] will bring you gold, and silver in place of iron…I will make peace your governor and well-being your ruler.”1 God took away my potential Dartmouth acceptance, but he was giving me a positive Williams experience instead. When I feared God, I realized that I did not have to be scared of the outcome of my college applications because God knows and loves me fully. My perfect God answered my prayers by giving me otherworldly peace throughout the college process and making it abundantly clear my senior spring that He wanted me to go to Williams.

Even though I fear both my dad and God, their unconditional love invites me to be in close relationships with them. Drawing close to God and fearing Him is a continuous process in my life, just like the apostle Paul instructed to the early church in Philippi, I “continue to work out [my] salvation with fear and trembling.”2

1 Isaiah 60:17, NIV.
2 Philippians 2:12b, NIV, emphasis added

Originally published in The Williams Telos Issue 14, FEAR 

Written by Sarah Gantt ’23

I know you are with me

I know you are with me.
You know me, and I hate you. 

I know you are with me.
You know me, but you love me.

Darkness, judgment, pain –
I do not want to know you anymore.

I want to know you so much more – 
Source of light, grace, and hope.

I do not know when 
You will mess with my mind,

You know when
I will break your heart,

Or when you will attack 
and tear me to pieces.

And when l will stumble 
and fall into pieces.

And you come chasing after me,
Threatening that I am not enough,
Telling me that I will always fail. 

But you come chasing after me,   
Declaring that you are enough,
Reminding me that your love never fails.

You destroy life
You detain peace
You degrade meaning

You restore life
You offer hope
You provide purpose.

I let you in
When you knock.
I let go,
Then you take control.
My heart, mind, and soul,
I submit to you.
And I tremble, 
For I know
You are with me.

We all fear something in this world. I fear failure and disappointing those around me; others fear spiders, heights, closed spaces, the unknown, death, or losing a loved one. Not all fears are necessarily bad, but when we submit to these fears, letting them invade our thoughts and take over our actions, they limit us. Trembling in the presence of these fears prohibits us from loving God, loving others, and spreading the good news of Jesus’ love. When I submit to my fears of failing and disappointing others, I mistakenly attribute my significance to the things I do to please people and please God, rather than center my worth on what He has done and will continue to do for me and this world. When I focus on living up to other people’s expectations, I get caught up in trying to reach a certain end goal and am too distracted to enjoy the process of growth along the way. I am unable to experience God, let alone share those experiences with others.

On the other hand, fearing God means to be in awe and wonder of His greatness and submit to Him. God is greater than everything – He is the omniscient Creator who has power over all things, from spiders to death. Therefore, submitting to Him is freeing and empowering, in contrast to submitting to the limiting fears of this world. Trembling in His presence enables us to experience His holiness, righteousness, and unending joy.

Sometimes I can be so focused on myself and my fears that I forget about the Almighty God who loves and saves. However, choosing to fear God instead of worldly things helps me to remember God’s goodness, power, and hope. When I take time to regularly reflect on my life through journaling, prayer, and sharing with others the ways I’ve been experiencing God, I can see how God is working in and around my life. I can trust in Him.

Fear is among us, but so is He – for whom are you trembling?

Originally published in The Williams Telos Issue 14, FEAR

Written by Christie Yang ’23

A Sparrow’s Prayer


Above me sparrows chirp,
they chirp like sirens
Hoping to get your attention
What do they say?
God, how can I pray
As fervent and fearless as they?
I can hear my grandma saying,
“One offense is all it takes,
For the stony ancestors to sweep us with hurricanes.”
And it did rain.
It rained for days and days,
The waters flooded to our waists,
Until my father’s brown car
And my mother’s golden dowry were swallowed in haste.
– Or at least, that’s what she said.
“You see, the red statues will not hesitate.”
I wish to ignore her, to overlook that ancient coldness
But to be warm, You know that I lack the boldness –

Something wouldn’t let me
The time, it was not yet ready.
Until the waters sedated and settled low
All things covered were shown
Then I woke from a slumber
I thought, I was surely ready for eternity, though –


But this weight never does go away,
With every Song I sing it detaches, but still remains
It remains –
I can’t help but wonder, what if you are the same?
As the night grows older
I feel it looming behind my shoulders
Your echoing I cares
They’re leaving me like your breaths leaving my interior
Are you not worth more than sparrows? they whisper,
But how can they in the sky deliver to you their sounds
While now, mine seems only to sink deeper underground?

I have to ask –
Do you care as much about me
As you care about them?
The sparrows, the grey and amber sparrows
Whom you colored and livened with your words.
Or the lilies, the gloriously arrayed flowers,
Into the grasses they so easily merge but do not disappear.
Do you adore me just as much?
But how much does it take you to do as such?
Cleansing me with your blood,
Hearing my heartbeat from under the suffocating mud.
There was my fearful hand,
You held it with yours.
So that the wind, Job’s whirlwind,
And fire, Moses’ bushfire,
Help me stand again in your promised land.
Gently, but with your gentle force,
Bless my spirit and yours –
they shall never ever drift to divorce –

Draw me in, please
Draw in my family
That heat can’t be warmer,
You say, this is my daughter,
With whom I am well-pleased.
I’ve been waiting so long, and finally
To live forever in your stable sanctuary –

After I became a Christian, I did not have all my fears reduced and resolved. In fact, in a sense, I have single-handedly divorced a part of myself that seemingly secured me–my ancestry, my goals for living, my source of explanations. Sometimes, I still wonder about to whom I am praying, who is responding to me, and which “god” people see through me. My inherent fears about destiny, about natural disasters, about inevitable cycles, about divorces and fracturing of relationships, about the arbitrary cruelness of the universe, about being isolated and neglected, were still very much deeply rooted inside, even after those rejuvenating waters of baptism had washed over me. I have realized that as ready as I am for eternity, between then and now still exists a long period of time–my life. And in this life, I still fear being unpolished, unnoticed, unheard, unloved, probably just as much as anybody.

But our God is unique in that He is not a distant God who expects us to somehow achieve perfection; He is the one who guides. I have begun to realize that this hollow part within me is destined to be fulfilled by our Maker, who polishes, notices, hears, and loves us. I am not yet a fearless person, but I have decided that I will not live life in my way, or with any other “gods”–I can only do it with the God whose steady hand patiently holds onto mine, while His perfection overwhelms my weakness.

Originally published in The Williams Telos Issue 14, FEAR

Written by Catherine Chen ’23