February 16, 2020
In a funny scene from a movie I watched recently, a young energetic firefighter tells his colleagues about a woman he had met. “This girl scares me,” he said softly and longingly. The crew chuckled and one responded, “that’s how you know it’s real.” The smiles and nods that followed captured the widely-held belief that love is scary.
Many see fear and love in a Venn diagram, with a large space in the middle in which the two coexist comfortably or in a single circle, virtually inseparable. But the relationship is quite different.
Love and fear exist on a continuum, like this:
Fear <————————————————-> Love
The two are powerful, but opposing forces that tend to suppress the characteristics of the other. The more we move towards or choose love, the less fear we experience. Fear pulls our relationships toward dishonesty, suspicion, anger, stinginess, and loneliness but love pulls them toward trust, kindness, honesty, and closeness. We can tell where we are on the fear-love continuum by simply observing the fruit of our relationships.
To enjoy more of love’s fruit in our most intimate relationships, we must resist fear and choose love habitually. At many different times, fear will tell us to hold a grudge and be suspicious because “you never know what he/she will do,” but love whispers, “forgive, give him/her the benefit of the doubt.” Fear will add, “hold back, don’t let them know you care or they’ll take advantage of you,” but love says, “give and let them know you care.” The one we choose most frequently will determine the quality of our relationships and lives.
The Bible reminds us that “there is no fear in love because perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). So, even if the idea is scary, let’s learn to love fearlessly.