Living a life rooted by fear will only produce more fear.
In life, I can come up with far more worst case scenarios then I can realistic outcomes when it comes to the the resolution of unknown situation. This train of thought can travel to rejection, betrayal, and demise that ultimately ends in certain death before I can even realize I have jumped on board the train!
This is why a life with rhythms works well for me because as I follow rhythms, I have an expectation about what will happen next. This allows me to better control my thoughts. It is in the unexpected situations and on-the-fly decisions where fear can really start to move through my mind.
Did you know that adults make more than 35,000 decisions daily?
That is a lot of opportunity for fear to creep in. Fear is a good thing. It is an emotion we were given as a gift to help protect us feeble humans. The problem is that our fear is more than the fear of a wild predator attacking us while we are traveling. Our fears can be our health, finances, acceptance, children, the state of our country, global warming… This list could go on and on.
One of my biggest fears is being alone or lonely. This really makes things interesting because I am so afraid of this that I am literally afraid to have deep relationships with people.
People are uncontrollable and unpredictable. More worst case scenarios can enter my mind with each meeting between me and another person. For example, these people can reject me or betray me in a number of different circumstances which will result in me being lonely. So, if the end result is going to be my loneliness, isn’t it just easier to skip the messy middle? With this logic, I keep myself from going deeper in friendships. I protect myself.
But is this really protection?
No! The thing I fear is the result of the life I choose and not because I got to enjoy a life with people around me. I miss out on all the good times because I am afraid of the bad.
Jesus says Love one another. And me holding back from relationships is not living in love of one another. I miss out on the laughs and the tears. I miss out on the prayers and miracles. I miss out on the relationships that will satisfy my soul, even if it is just for a season.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 (NIV)
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
God has been challenging me in this area. It’s not that I think I need to be vulnerable with every person on the planet, but I do think God is calling me to live out of love and not fear.
Jesus himself had a large group of followers who walked and traveled with him. He spent time and taught these people. He cared for them. He had a smaller group of 12 that he taught and mentored closely. Then there were 3 that were his people. He trusted them with truly knowing him. He even invited these 3 to come with him as he met with Moses and Elijah. Which allowed them to see him with their own eyes in his glory as the Son of God. (Matthew 17:1-13)
The hardest part is Jesus was betrayed by all these people. Even by his 3 closest friends.
He expressed his distress and asked them to pray. They fell asleep. (Luke 22:39-46 NIV)
Peter was ready for a knock-out, drag-out fight while in the group. (John 18:10 NIV) But when left alone he denied even knowing Jesus. Not once but 3 times. (John 18: 25-27 NIV)
The craziest part is that Jesus knew the whole time. He knew he was going to be betrayed. But Jesus shows us that just because we might get hurt by people doesn’t mean we can’t do amazing things, even miracles, with those people in the time we are together.
Knowing this gives me courage to want to live a life in love despite my fear of being hurt. I want to show up and know people. Even if it is only for a season. I will not continue to choose fear and live a life lonely. Relationships and connection are good for us. Friendships and community offer us a place to share our gifts and talents in serving others. Relationships also offer us a place to know and be known.
Rebekah Lyons says “We were created for connection and when we are closely knit within our community, we are at our best, flourishing and full of life.” (Rhythms of Renewal, 2019)