I was counseling a young man about his pending marriage. His reasons for marriage were all based on fear. He was threatened often that he would lose his daughter if he didn’t marry her. He knew he didn’t love her but he didn’t want his daughter growing up without him.
In my counsel for him 1 John 4:18 was never more clear to me. That oft-repeated verse is “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.” It was so clear to me that she did not love him because fear was at the root of the forced marriage. And certainly he did not love her. He couldn’t because fear was making the decision for him. There can be no fear in love. Even though there is risk in love. Love actually is a force that propels you to live bravely. There is a freedom in love too. You are free to try and fail because love will not change. What a truth. There is no fear in love.
Side note: If you are with someone because you are afraid of your life without him/her or if you are afraid of being with him/her, there is no real love there. Fear and love don’t mix. You may think there is love as a way to cope through the situation but the truth is very different. Perfect love drives out fear, not keeps you in it. Be brave and make decisions to change that situation. You are worthy of love.
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They are married now. He is loving her with pure honoring love. But will she ever love him? To do so would mean to give up the control. To give up the control would mean to expose the fear. It is easier for her to continue the control in the name of love. This is why there can be no fear in love.
Who doesn’t love Max Lucado? This is such a good quote.
“When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life. Can the safety lover do anything great? Can the risk-averse accomplish noble deeds? For God? For others? No. The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. Benevolence has no guarantee of return. The fear-filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness. No wonder Jesus wages such a war against fear.” (Fearless, Max Lucado)
“Fear not” is used 80+ in the Bible. Yes, Jesus does wage a personal war against fear. We have the truth in the Word of God to battle fear.
Fear does not protect you. So many people use fear—and justify fear—as a way to control their worlds believing they will beat vulnerability to the punch by being vigilant about fear. What an exhausting web that is weaved.
Love actually is a force that propels you to live bravely. Yes, there is vulnerability in love. You will probably be let down, hurt, or even heart-damaged because of love. But this is the great truth about vulnerability. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” (Dr. Brene’ Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 34)
That is a list of words that are not a part of this marriage. Is that a list of words that is not a part of your life? Would you like them to be?
Be brave. Embrace vulnerability. This means you will feel fear. Don’t try to control it. Face it. Good is coming. Remember this truth, “So if you are suffering according to God’s will, keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19.
Feeling a feeling is not weakness. Feelings mean you are alive. Fear is used to numb these feelings and that is not living. Another name for these feelings is holy tension. Holy tension is where life is lived.
“Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed!” Psalm 86:10. Isn’t that a beautiful verse out of Psalms? This is not love based on fear. This is not using fear to control your world. This is unfailing love living in the truth—and that is just beautiful. This is righteousness because something good is coming and peace instead of fear kissing. And we all like some kissing!