Fear

Some people are afraid of spiders.

Other people are afraid of heights.

Some people are even afraid of very long words:

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Thoughts of fears have been invading my mind lately, but not for the usual reasons. I am a very fearful person by nature. In fact, I’ve been known to be afraid of…

  • Airplanes and flying
  • Funerals
  • Elevators (but not escalators)
  • Spicy food
  • Tomatoes, carrots, dairy, pecans, and now peanuts (make me ill)
  • Roller coasters
  • Long car trips
  • The dentist
  • Spiders
  • Snakes
  • Tornados
  • Germs, especially stomach bug germs
  • Nausea
  • Body discomfort of any sort
  • Monthly period (because it’s causing extreme pain)
  • Boys (when I was younger)
  • Being unimportant and ignored
  • Ice skating (afraid I’ll fall)
  • Trampolines (since I broke my ankle on one)
  • Tall buildings (I can feel them sway, and that makes me feel nauseous)
  • Various fresh produce and meats (might be contaminated with salmonella, listeria, or e Coli)
  • Social gatherings
  • Drugs of any sort except those I’m already taking (Tylenol, Pepcid, Zyrtec)
  • Eating out at a fancy restaurant (afraid I’ll offend the chef from not eating much)
  • Movie theaters (during the swine flu outbreak, I would not go out in public places..and every time we go, we seem to catch colds or other maladies)
  • Messing up my daughter’s life (who could possibly thrive with a mom like me?)
  • Travel to foreign locales (might get sick from the water, food, or both)
  • Swimming (might drown)
  • Surgery (might get sick from anesthesia; might have complications)
  • Disappointing my husband
  • Disappointing God
  • Not living a proper Christian life; not “doing” enough to follow Christ
  • Expressing my opinion when I know others disagree
Get the picture?  If I sat here writing out all the things I am currently afraid of or have been afraid of in the past, I would still be writing this time next week.
This is why verses like this one from 1 John 4:
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
have always struck me the wrong way.  I’ve never been able to understand the concept of what it even means to be “perfect in love.”  This verse has been one of those Bible verses that offend me because it doesn’t seem to apply to me — or, even worse, it points to my own depravity.  Who wants to be imperfect in anything?  Certainly not this perfectionist!
The New Living Translation puts the verse this way:
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
What was that again?  Fear “has to do with punishment.”  If I look back at my partial “fear list,” I see that indeed every single one of my fears has something to do with punishment or some sort of physical pain or discomfort to myself or to those that I love.
I’m reading a book that I could have written myself, called Grace for the Good Girl. One of the things that resonated with me is a thought that I have secretly whispered to myself for the last thirty years: What did Jesus save me FROM?  I was an innocent nine year old girl when I was saved.  I was already a “good girl.”  I have always had an inborn sense of right and wrong.  Right actions lead to praise and good things in life…wrong actions lead to disapproval, disappointment, and painful things in life.  The whole reason I wanted to follow Jesus is because I didn’t want to go to Hell!  I wanted to become a Christian because my inner right/wrong meter knew it was the right thing to do…the choice that would offer me the least amount of eternal suffering.  Even back then, my choice was driven not by love…but by fear of the lake of fire and eternal damnation.
See the picture?
FEAR is embedded in who I am — even in my Christian identity.
The Holy Spirit is working on and in me on this concept.  In church on Sunday, we sang a song by Dutton called Welcome Home.  This line, as I sang it, struck my heart:
I love Him more than all these idols I bowed to before I called Him Lord

What idols did I bow to before I called Him Lord?

Immediately I thought of the word FEAR.

Is Fear an idol?

Granted, I did not fashion a wooden statue, name it Fear, and bow down to it.  However, if I’m totally honest with myself, I see that the concept of Fear drives me as much as — or more than — my love for Jesus.

And that realization takes my breath away.

Fear drives me to do all sorts of strange things that make other people label me — when they are being nice — as “eccentric.”  Others might just flat out think I’m a germaphobic weirdo, and they are right in that assertion.  Fear is what keeps antibacterial hand sanitizer not only in my purse but also in my car and my home.  It’s why I will get up and move if I happen to be sitting at the rink next to a child who is coughing without covering.  It’s why I won’t eat meat that has any hint of pink in it.  I’d rather eat something tough and stringy than moist and filled with germs.  Fear kept me from going with my family to London.  It kept me from going to Rome.  Fear is one reason why I homeschool — when I keep my daughter home, she’s exposed to fewer germs and therefore doesn’t get as sick as she did when she went to school.  Fear of failure is what keeps me from dreaming big dreams for myself.  It has kept me from writing a book, from going back to school, from having another baby, and from adopting.

In contrast, what do I do for Jesus?  I could say that I go to church for Him, but that wouldn’t be completely honest.  I go to church because I am afraid that staying home would disappoint God. I give to church and charitable causes sometimes out of love, but also oftentimes out of a fear that if I don’t, that which I have will be taken away.  I volunteer not always because I want to, but because I feel guilt — and fear of being seen as one of “those” Christians who are Christians in name only. Again, even in church, Fear is what drives me to action or inaction.

The truth is ugly, isn’t it?

I believe Jesus is the Son of God.  I believe and do my best to follow Him.  But when it comes right down to it, my best just isn’t good enough because I have not completely surrendered.  You see, Fear is, I’m coming to see, a manifestation of an idol.  Not a wooden statue or one made of gold or bronze…but of flesh and blood.  It’s a manifestation of ME and my intense, cautionary desire to rather be safe than sorry.  To prevent harm, pain, sickness, or disease to my body.  I have set myself up as an idol.  In my drive to save myself, I have ignored the fact that I am

already saved.

So what am I going to do about this ugly realization?  Here I am, confessing it.  The next step is repenting it.  But even as I write those words, the father of lies whispers that as soon as I do, he will send me a trial — probably involving my worse fear ever, nausea — just to prove that I haven’t really repented.

Do you see how ingrained this is in me?

But there is hope.  God stands ready to welcome me.  In fact, He’s not just standing.  He’s running to me with arms wide open.  That thorn in my flesh I wrote about earlier?  This fear issue is the crux of it.  God made me. He knows more about me and about what makes me tick than I do myself.  He’s the one who is revealing all this ugly stuff to me.  I really and truly do not need to be afraid.  I am worth more than many sparrows.

So with the writing of this blog, I am walking on an unfamiliar road and trying on new ways of thinking.  Rather than living a life in which Fear drives me, I want to learn how to let love lead my thoughts, my words, and my actions. Perhaps then I will truly understand how perfect love casts out fear.  I’ve been living a life under fear of punishment, when all along God just wants me to let it all hang out. When we lay down our fearful idols and turn back to him, He says to me, and to you, Welcome Home.

4 thoughts on “Fear

  1. Well doggone it Christie. It never ceases to amaze me how some of your posts are word for word exactly what I could say. As I read this, I am simply startled (once again) at how you experience the exact same thoughts and emotions and reactions that I do. WORD. FOR. WORD.

    I am SO hopeful for you. Hopeful that this is the key for you to finally break free from the bondage that I know too well. Hopeful that you’ll be ecstatically telling me one day soon that this is not permanent! That you have overcome it. That you are finally and totally FREE. If anyone can press through it, I believe it is YOU. Your faith and perseverance are amazing. I’ve all but given up ever being different, but you keep the hope alive and it is so inspiring to me.

  2. Much of what I wrote about was triggered by what I read in Grace for the Good Girl. I highly recommend it! Do you have the Kindle app on your phone or computer? If so, I can loan you the book. I think you’d really, really relate just as I do…

    I”m glad I’m inspiring to somebody because I’m just not that inspiring to myself! Giving up being driven by fear is difficult and I haven’t really started yet. I keep thinking about that yoke that Jesus tells us to put on.

    One of the most helpful things I’m reading so far is that it’s not up to me. It’s not. Sometimes I’m so responsible that I wish someone else would just take over. And Jesus did. He took over back when I was nine years old. I’m like the driver’s ed instructor, sitting in the passenger’s seat of my life, stomping on the special “driver teacher’s” brake all the time because I feel afraid.

    Getting rid of Facebook is a good first step. Over two hundred friends might be thinking I’m overreacting and crazy. The last time I got mad at FB, I didn’t quit it b/c I worried about letting down those other people or about what they’d think of me. Please follow me on twitter or email me or something b/c I do want to stay in touch with you!

    1. Hey girl, I DO have a kindle! Whenever you are ready, I would LOVE to borrow that book…just email me and let me know how to do that. 🙂

      Oh, and I might start doing twitter, if I do I will add you for sure. I miss seeing your updates on facebook!

      1. I actually put the book down. It started smacking of legalism towards the middle…or maybe it’s just my state of mind at the moment. What’s your kindle user name (amazon sign-in. not the password…jsut the sign it. ) You can email it tome directly if you want.

        Also, I’m back on FB. I wanted more readers to my blog…that’s been the best referrer. I am thinking about deleting many of my photos though or at least removing the tags.

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