Over the past few weeks the issue of fear in my life has come up again and again and again. My mentor bought it up, my counsellor bought it up, random verses I read were talking about it and the books that I am currently reading both deal with issues of fear.
I cannot deny that fear is a significant aspect of my life. I seem to live in a perpetual state of it. What people will think of me, whether I said the right thing, whether my relationships are good, whether I am loving enough, whether I am loveable. These are fairly common issues really, many of my friends live with at least one significant fear, most have as many if not more than me.
It seems that fear is one of the driving forces of life. The thing that always puzzles me though, is that the majority of the things I fear are to do with a desire to be loved and yet the fear of not being loved causes me to put up walls around myself.
This contradictory self preservation can’t really lead anywhere good and sure enough, recent conversations and comments have revealed a deep seated selfishness and pride in me. Those I speak to say its not as bad as I think, but fact is – I don’t want to get hurt! I hate getting hurt, it hurts. Therefore I behave in such a way that will think of others once I have worked out how to best look after me.
Even as I write this, I am afraid of talking about how selfish I am incase people come back with ‘I am so glad you realised’ and I find myself rejected and alone.
Fear is something that self replicates. It can only produce more fear and anxiety. Love also self replicates, it creates more love and with it a greater level of security and safety.
Living in fear wears me down. It is exhausting constantly questioning what others think of me. The thing about it is, worrying about what others think of me puts myself at the centre of every encounter. I wonder how I came across, did I look ok, did I sounds wise and selfless, or funny and exciting. This mentality ensures that I will not be able to love others as myself as I always think of myself first.
The problem I encounter though, is how, in a world dominated by fear, do I step out and learn to love others as I want to be loved? When others are living these walled off lives of distance and self protection how do you love and live without ending up so battle scarred you are barely recognisable? Even as I mention this I think of Mad Eye Moody in Harry Potter. The level of scarring he encountered led him to such a state of paranoia that it became a characteristic those that kidnapped him had to replicate!
I don’t want to be held captive by my experiences, I don’t want to live in fear, and yet I don’t know how to move forward to a point where I don’t feel it is necessary.
My insecurities get involved in every relationship I am in. That with my boyfriend, friends, family, colleagues – all at some point have been asked a stream of insecurities that come from a paralysing fear of not being good enough, or of getting it wrong. I can’t bear the thought of either of those as it leads to the inevitable conclusion that those involved will walk away. How is it possible to live a life where you can be confident in your decisions? Where you are able to trust those around you without needing to depend on their word to get by from day to day?
This state of fear I live in leads me to disconnect myself from any responsibility. It causes me to put the burden on others to sort out their lives so they are more able to help to make mine easier. So many of us put the burden of responsibility for ‘issues’ in our lives on others. I learnt this week that saying sorry often isn’t enough. Going a step further and asking for forgiveness when you have wronged someone is taking responsibility for your actions and asking others to do the same. You enter into a verbal contract. ‘Can you forgive me’ ‘I will think about it’ means that actually, the responsibility for forgiveness is no longer yours. This is not to lessen the pain you might have caused, and perhaps, if someone can’t, you need to look at why. Sometimes though, it is up to the other to work out their stuff in order to let go of what you did.
This is often a rejection to the insecure mind. This is my battle. When everyone else is as broken as me, how do I find any sense of strength or courage? How do I find love that can drive out the fear?
The simple answer is I look to the cross. The bible is riddled with this level of love. I don’t know how to drown myself in it, but I do know, this fear I live in is no longer tolerable. Therefore, I shall commit to learning how to be fearless and in that, to become humble and selfless. By God’s grace alone but that is more than enough to get me finished!