Fear and Grace
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear… he that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
Reading this scripture always makes me wonder what I am afraid of and how love would cast those fears away. The list of fears can be pretty long sometimes, including, but not limited to, the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of being alone, the fear of not being alone, etc.
When I was a young missionary, I had a terrifying experience with my unique fear of being trapped in small spaces. I went on my mission to Italy. The first area I was in was Catania in Sicily where the locals host huge festivals to celebrate the patron saint of Catania, Sant’Agata. Getting around the city is incredibly difficult during the festival. There are fewer busses running, and infinitely more people. My companion and I had to get on a bus to get home during the festival, but when the bus pulled up to our stop, there was already a small hoard of people on the bus, and another crowd of people that needed to get on. We shoved our way onto the bus. The other passengers on the bus were so tightly packed around us, we could barely move. People had to push in on the other passengers from the outside just to get the doors of the bus closed. The bus started moving, and I held on with white knuckles to what little space there was left on a handlebar. The air was thin, and full of shouts in a language I still didn’t have a solid grasp on. I could barely breathe, and I the only thought in my mind was getting off this bus. I could feel panic welling up in me, and I started praying silently in my near-hysteria. Just when I thought I was going to scream for someone to let me off this bus, I heard a little girl laughing. I looked around and saw a little girl not far from me laughing. Even though this bus was a living nightmare for a claustrophobic like me, she thought being on this bus was the funniest thing in the world. Hearing her laugh so hard somehow put my nerves to rest and I was able to make it through the rest of the bus ride without panicking.
Can this story relate to other fears like the fear of loneliness or the fear of failure? I think that when we start to feel those fears, we can find grace in small things like a child’s laughter. I think we can find beauty even in the darkest places—especially if we’re looking, asking, and trusting God for those things.
Fear and Ego
“Love does not hold, that’s ego. Love is liberation.” ~Maya Angelou
- Choosing love over fear could mean being honest with someone you care about, even though you’re afraid of hurting them.
- Choosing love over fear could mean breaking up with someone, even though you’re afraid of living without them.
- Choosing love over fear could mean letting your child choose a different path that the one you want for them, even though you’re afraid of losing them to different lifestyles.
- Choosing love over fear could mean quitting your stable job to pursue something more fulfilling, even though you’re afraid of failing and losing the respect of your peers.
- Choosing love over fear could mean telling your loved ones about your addiction that you’ve been keeping a secret and asking them for help, even though you’re afraid of what they’re going to think of you.
The list goes on and on. Most of our relationships are a mixed bag of both fear and love. Choosing love over fear is not easy, but doing so is bearable when trusting God instead of our own fearful egos that would rather hold onto people and control them than set them free. Love is free from fear and cannot coexist with it, hence the words, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.”
If we could collectively decide to choose love and leave fear behind, imagine the stark changes we would make in ourselves and our relationships.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).