Why is “fear” such a dirty word? I remember hearing the famous FDR quote, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”, and thinking it was just political bluster. “Fear is just an emotion”, I thought, “It can’t really be that damaging”. But more and more I find myself agreeing with him. He understood that fear has the power to shut people down in ways that even the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and Word War II couldn’t.
I have determined that the four- letter F word is enemy #1 in my life. Why? God exposed a hidden fear recently by telling me, “________ is not holding you back. Fear is holding you back”. I was startled, but this is actually consistent with the Bible, and science bears it out as well. Fear triggers a series of physiological responses that have been shown to increase pain, decrease immune function, impair learning and on and on. And surprisingly, the Bible says that the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s fear. It says that fear and love can’t coexist. So regardless of what you believe, if you value your capacity to love, fear is your enemy too.
There is always someone or something else to blame, and blaming is just a mask for fear. When I blame my problems on God, my husband, my kids, or my circumstances, it means my capacity to truly love is diminished. It also means I’m believing a lie. Lies and fear always go hand in hand. Think about it, if you believed the truth, would you ever have any reason to fear?
Another very common mask for fear is anger. The overwhelming majority of the time, when someone is expressing anger, they are really feeling fear. Anger is fear struggling to appear in control. Can you think of a time when you were really angry when there was no fear behind it?
I say all this because fear leaves us vulnerable to lies, and every sin since the beginning has been rooted in lies. We are commanded over and over again not to fear. I know people who would never justify lying, stealing, or swearing. Yet they harbor fear, anxiety and worry, and they just think it’s normal.
Fear is not normal.
It is not how you were created to live.
I have been crippled by fear at key points in my life, and I still struggle against fear every day. But since I made the decision that it would not be part of my new normal, I am free in ways I couldn’t have imagined. How have you found freedom from fear? How would you live life differently if you were totally free?