I anxiously walked through the half-empty building, expecting someone to kick me out at any moment. My mom was much more composed. I had this deep feeling that I should not be there. And that caused me great distress. I couldn’t even quite explain it in the moment. I mean, if we had been kicked out of the building, it would have been fine. But in that moment, the possibility of being kicked out, terrified me.
I have for many years prided myself in being responsible and wise. I never had to be told twice not to do something, and more often, never even needed to be told. I just knew. I never slept in past my alarm in college (and would roll my eyes when others would claim it was “an attack from the enemy” that made them sleep in). I never failed a class. I never got pregnant by my boyfriend (truthfully, I didn’t have a boyfriend). I never woke up the next day, head pounding with a bad hangover. I only cheated twice on a test (off the same spelling test, which was offered twice, and stopped when I realized that the only answer I got wrong was the one I’d copied from my neighbor’s paper).
I am responsible.
I am well-behaved.
I am afraid.
In recent years I have seen clearer and clearer the role fear has played in my life. In fact, all the wisdom I thought I had, was motivated primarily out of fear. You see, I did not act responsibly because I believed that it was the best path. I acted responsibly, because I thought it was what everyone wanted from me. I thought I would receive love if I was well-behaved. I was under the illusion that this gave me control.
If I take these beliefs to the next step, it means that all my so-called wisdom, isn’t really wisdom. Because, wisdom is attached to a deeper sense of knowing the good paths to follow. It comes from a place of deep love…not fear. Wisdom says, “because I know I am deeply loved and thus can trust deeply, I know that God’s way of living is good.” When “wisdom” is coming from a place of fear it says “I have to do things right or else I’m going to get in trouble.”
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. (1 John 4:18, ESV)
The solution to my fear is not a move towards reckless living. The answer is not to respond contrarily in the moment (although, sometimes it may mean that). I believe deeply that the turning point will be based solely in love. God’s love. It will mean opening my hands a bit wider and receiving the love God is already offering to me.