There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear
1 John 4:18
Friend to Friend
“I still feel fear. I do. If you were hoping for a perfect, brave, bold, amazing and beautifully clad woman wearing the badged heart of courage I am not your gal. I am gaining ground, but I have miles to go.” – Kelly Balarie
When I read these words on an ordinary Wednesday morning I got tears in my eyes. Because sometimes what you need is not information; it’s consolation. Sometimes you just need to know you’re not the only one. You need not the “how-to” but the “me too.” Because you are battle-worn and tender and have already fought as hard as you possibly can for now.
I’ve recently been wrestling with fear again and I feel shame when I fall back into this place. I‘ve written a book about God-sized Dreams, after all. There’s a whole chapter about fear in there. And last fall I released a book called Fiercehearted. It seems I should have wrestled fear to the ground like a wild alligator by now. I should be riding it, one hand on its collar and the other in the air like a cowgirl on a bucking bronco.
I tell myself I should be totally over this by now–don’t we all? But this is not how it is to be human, not how it is to deal with fear. So here is what I’m reminding myself of on this Wednesday morning and what you might need to hear too…
Fear is inevitable, but shame over it is optional. Fear is wired into our very brains, into the most primitive part of us. This is not a mistake on the part of our Maker. It is strategic so that we survive. God knows this and He has compassion, not condemnation, toward our fear. I discovered when He says, “Do not fear” to someone in Scripture it is almost always to someone who is already afraid. It is not a rebuke but a reassurance.
Fear is a message about what matters to us. For example, I feel afraid in social situations where I’m not sure what to do or how to act because I want to love well. I feel fear before a book launches because I really want the message to reach your hearts and make a difference. I value relationships. I value you. Our fear is not weakness; it’s a sign that our hearts are alive and open and risking.
Fear is a Chihuahua that sounds like a Doberman. I first said this in You’re Made for a God-sized Dream and I go back to it over and over again. This pup sits right next to whatever matters most to us and the closer we get to it–a dream, a goal, a person we love–the louder fear barks. But here’s the secret: it’s toothless. The worst it can do is scare us away from God’s best for our lives. It has no real power. Face it with faith and it will back down every time.
Love always defeats fear. “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18a). When we’re afraid, it can be easy to come up with our own defense. For me, I think if I can just try harder and do better then I’ll stop being afraid because surely if I’m perfect everyone will like me and all will go well. But this never works. What I really need to know to defeat fear is this: I will be loved no matter what.
Yes, as long as we are on this spinning earth we will experience fear sometimes. But it is not our identity. We are not people of fear. We are people of faith. We are stronger than we know, braver than we feel and loved more than we can even imagine.
God, it is Your love that frees our hearts from fear. Today I am afraid of ________________. I bring this to You knowing that You invite me to do so without hesitation or condemnation. I ask that You will speak the truth my heart needs to hear and give me what I need to be brave today. I will not let fear win. No matter how I may feel my identity is the same: I am a courageous overcomer in You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Our fears tend to lose their power when we bring them into the light. If you’re struggling with a fear share it with someone you trust today and ask them to pray for you. Doing so will help them be braver about sharing their fears too—courage is contagious.
More from the Girlfriends
You’ll find more honest confessions and help overcoming your fears in Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth. For weekly words of encouragement, you can also subscribe to her free email messages through holleygerth.com.