(This article, while written at the beginning of the pandemic, is still incredibly relevant today, so keep reading!)
I am especially excited about this article because I really feel like the Lord redirected my heart to write to something that is relevant in our society right now. I feel like he worked in my heart on this recently and I hope you find this article encouraging in your own life.
The phrase “perfect love casts out fear” is biblical and comes from 1 John 4:18. It says “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” The previous verses say: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus.”
I want to address this today because for society as a whole we fall prey to fear more than we realize. There are definitely the obvious signs of fear: being scared of the dark, fearing for your kids, being alone at home, etc. I think you will see at the end of this article that there are plenty of other areas we let fear get in the way of loving and demonstrating love to others. These things are more destructive than your regular everyday fears like the boogeyman!
In order to set the stage for this, I want to tell you how this came around. I was working on an article for this podcast about good questions to ask because I think that loving people ask questions. I realized as I was going through that, that I was getting stuck. I wanted to tie it to what gets in the way of us asking questions. This morning, as I was talking to my husband before I did this article, we were having a conversation about the coronavirus. We talked about the panic around the virus.
I am part of several online groups, and in several of them, I have seen the panic start to increase. People are asking things like “what should I stock up on?”, “what medical supplies do I grab?”, “what do I do if I am out of masks?”. Already, there is fear and panic that’s starting to happen. If you haven’t been exposed to this yet, it is unfortunately coming. So we were discussing this. What do we do as believers? How do we trust the Lord, believe Him to take good care of us, not give in to panic and also be wise? What does that look like? How should we be wise and prepare for something that we see coming, but at the same time not contribute to the overall panic that society is ramping up? Not only did this come up from the coronavirus, but at the time of writing this the stock market went down around 1000 points earlier in the week. That is something that makes a lot of people worried very quickly. I realized during this conversation that one of the key differences between fear and love is questions. You see, love gets curious and comes from a place of trust. This gives space to consider other options. There is freedom and openness to ask what if, why, what else, etc. This pandemic is not the first time that our society has been driven by fear, and I think our whole political system is fear-based. So, since our overall society comes from that place of fear, how can we be examples of love? I think part of that is steeped in getting curious and being willing to ask questions. It is also a test to see if you are operating out of love instead of fear. If you have the stance to ask these questions then you are coming from a place of trust. A place of putting your trust in the Lord and recognizing that He loves us and has a plan for us.
Let’s look at the alternative. Fear doesn’t ask a lot of healthy questions. Fear is very protective and defensive. I think of it as closed up or tightening. Fear makes statements and declarations. Things like “we have to go to the store right now!”, “I don’t want to be one of the ones running out of everything!”. Fear doesn’t do a lot of thinking, you make a decision based on fear. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when fear is important to survive. If you have done any type of medical training at all you know that they teach you to ask calm questions to intentionally slow down what you’re doing and be thoughtful about your actions. During intense medical situations, the first thing the medical personnel will do is ask questions of the injured person to get the full scope of the situation. If the medical personnel were protective, defensive, and impulsive out of fear it is more likely that would immediately move the person, possibly causing more damage. This idea of coming from a place of curiosity is perfect love casting out fear. Love is curious instead of defensive. Often declarations come from a place of panic.
I also notice that love is patient, it talks about that in 1 Corinthians 13. I think that is also an aspect of curiosity. The willingness to step back for just a second and take in the whole picture. There is a place for wisdom to come in and really help us. Fear is rushed and hurried. Fear operates out of a confusing place and is haphazard. If you have ever seen your children in a hurry and they are afraid they will miss their ride or miss out on something fun it is not unusual for them to have an accident or hurt themselves during these times. The accidents result from them not paying attention to their surroundings because they are operating out of a place of fear.
I think about love being patient and operating with my kids. If I am not careful, fear can affect my parenting. Consider an incident that happened a number of years ago: My oldest son was making a decision about something, though I can’t remember what the decision was about. For example’s sake, let’s say the decision was about how long you are supposed to play on electronics. My son was arguing that he should be able to play his video games and resisting what I say. At first, I was willing to talk about the important aspects of taking a break from playing games. In this situation, we had already done that. I talked to him about some of the possibilities, but gradually he veered towards “yeah, well I want to do it anyway.”
When that happens fear can start to take over in a parent. It definitely did that day for me. I started getting more controlling. More defensive. More demanding. He started to get scared about the fact that he was going to have his privileges taken away. What did he do? He became more defensive. He began to make declarations and statements. So then, there we are arguing with each other.
The reality is, we were both coming from a place of fear and there was not much thinking going on, only survival patterns. I am sad to say that this conversation did not end up so well. We ended up in a yelling match. I am sure somewhere in there he stomped off to his room and I screamed at the top of my lungs. I remember going back to my room shortly after I exploded and realized I was coming from a place of protection and a place of fear. Once I calmed down, I was able to get back into a place of curiosity. What am I scared of? Why am I so quick to lose my temper in this situation? Notice that the curiosity came back into play. It was coming from a desire to love him well. In that moment, I realized I had a driving overall fear that if I let my children spend long hours on electronics, they run a high risk of being one of the statistics of the classic 30-year-old, unemployed son living in the basement because they can’t get their act together. As a result, the fear of the future was driving the defensive attitude that was in these conversations.
Now, of course, I don’t want my child to be 30 years old living in my basement playing video games, but it is important if I want to come from a place of love to deal with that fear outside of the conversation. Acknowledge the fear and give it to God, but approach the conversation or situation from a place of love. It can also include some patience; like being consistent, thoughtful, and wise. It can also come from a place of surrendering and letting God take care of the situation. I might just have to relax and let God work it out in my son’s life even if the situation doesn’t look the way I think it should.
This is not a skill that I grew up knowing. This is something I teach in my mastermind courses, and Supermom School. As a result of doing this work, which is not what comes naturally to people (asking questions), I went back into my son’s room and was able to be honest and authentic with him. 1 Corinthians says love is honest, forgiving, patient, and kind. How can I be honest with him at the moment? Again a curiosity question. I can tell him where this is coming from for me: “ Hey bud, I am sorry I yelled at you. I should not have done that. I want to be honest with you. I have this fear that you will end up 30 years old, living in the basement playing video games and I don’t want that for you. I know that wasn’t the way to handle it. I am wondering, can we come up with something together that doesn’t head in that direction?” That is a conversation that we were able to have. He was much more responsive to this type of conversation. When I was able to get curious and ask questions, he was able to get curious as well. I think it is important as the parent to be the example of what we want to create. Then our kids are able to have something to model. If we are always controlling or fearful, our kids will mimic that! Children often mirror us and how we behave.
I want to encourage you and tell you that I do not do this perfectly. I think having the conversation this way is wise. I will say none of my kids are 30 yet so I will let you know how it turns out, BUT our relationships are better as a result. The other thing that I know is that both love and fear are contagious. Perfect love is contagious. People are longing for it and when they feel it and receive it they want to share it with others. Fear is the same way and when we demonstrate it they demonstrate it back. We know this because of the panic going around the world because of the virus going across the globe. It is contagious in our homes, too.
Consider this: how are you coming from a place of love and curiosity? Are there ways that you can ask more questions in conversations with your kids? Even in your body language notice how you are standing. Notice your neck, posture, fists, stomach. Are you able to have the conversation with your hands just hanging down at your sides in an open stance? This is a way that I choose to consciously surrender to Jesus and trust Him for help in a conversation. I remind myself by holding my body open in order to stay curious and remain in a place of love. When I start to get closed off, tight, look down at my phone to disengage, I notice those things as signs that I am starting to operate in that conversation out of fear.
What if this week you can choose one thing to change in how you have a conversation? Maybe ask one question where you would normally give a statement. Notice one time that you have a closed-off body posture and you choose to release it as a physical representation of your faith in Jesus. What would that change with interactions with others? I can tell you from personal experience it can change everything in your relationships from husband, children, co-workers, family. What I do know is that the bible is true and perfect love casts out all fear. As you begin to operate from this place I can guarantee you that the fear will leave. It has to, God said so.
What is one way to set into a place of love? What is one way that you are going to choose to love God, love others and enjoy it?
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