Monday, April 4, 2016

Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

Worry and anxiety kept me internally isolated for much of my life. When I did share, any reassurance I received was like sand trickling through open fingers. I felt comforted and cared about for a short time, then it was gone and I needed another handful of reassurance. This pattern made me feel helpless and incompetent. Constantly asking for reassurance was taxing on my family and friends. Believing I was a burden caused me to feel even more isolated and fearful. But God broke through and rescued me from that lonely place. 

1 John 4:18 tells us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” My lightbulb moment came when I realized moving from Fear to Freedom happens in the context of relationship. Even though my circumstances may not change, my ability to persevere and grow through them happens when I’m anchored in relationship.

I will never love God, myself, or others perfectly – but I don’t think God expects that of me this side of heaven. 1 John 4:18 tells me is there’s a connection between not feeling loved as the person God created me to be and my worry, anxiety, and fear. Being able to receive love, mercy, and grace significantly affects our ability to decrease fear-based symptoms. Fear breeds secrecy and shame. Opening ourselves up to receive love from God and safe people allows us to see what is true and hold onto hope.

I’ll always have a chemical predisposition to anxiety and depression, but I can have compassion and learn how to care for myself well when I’m in the midst of that storm. Learning how to battle my isolating thoughts and allowing God and others to care for me was really difficult. I had a lot of feelings and beliefs about being seen as weak and vulnerable that needed to be critiqued.

As a counselor, I work hard to offer a safe, caring therapeutic relationship to my clients. Sharing how they've been wounded emotionally and relationally is the key to healing. Allowing God to show how parents, spouses, and important people failed to love us in ways you needed is painful, but often uncovers old fears and hurts which invade the present. 

Asking “what, why, how” questions allowed me to move from living in fear to embracing a joyful, freedom based life. John 8:32 tells us the truth will set us free. Truth gives us a solid foundation and energy to withstand internal and external storms. Doing the hard work of seeing how you’ve been relationally failed and understanding your unhealthy responses to those hurts will equip you with truth to face fearful worries, thoughts and feelings.

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