Today I’m sharing an excerpt from my upcoming eBook, First Steps Out. It’s written to parents, family, and friends of people who are seeking help with their sexual orientation. This is a section on fear, and how it can work against us when those we love need our faith the most. It’s not all-encompassing, rather, just a few thoughts on this common relational challenge. I’d love to know what you think!
Fear thrives in situations that present stark and shocking facts.
It creates a fuzz of panic in which we become its slaves. It taps into our adrenal systems and can rule our decisions for hours. That’s all the time it needs to get a foothold on the course of entire relationships.
We’re humans. We are the type of people who like to stick to our guns.
If we make demands while fear is king on the throne of our hearts, pride and its armies are tempted to back it up for a long time to come. When we respond to the things our loved ones trust us with from this place, we lock ourselves and those relationships onto a trajectory of hopelessness and death.
Fear is always about self-preservation.
Fear lies to us about our motives. We see our loved ones venturing off into unfamiliar territories. We worry for their souls. We want to do something to stop it, to save them, to keep them from danger. All this is very natural, and being aware of these realities is powerful fuel for sustaining a prayer life. But, while masking itself to our own hearts as heroic protectionism or extreme love, fear almost always causes us to think about a way to override another person’s will. Fear even hides itself in mercy and hospitality. We’re “afraid for someone”, so we do this, or do that. Without their permission. We hope they take our offering or suggestion, then we get cranky and anxious and loud when they assert their own will. Then we start making demands.
There is a reason the Bible says perfect love drives it out.
Fear brings pressure with its demands. Fear can’t see another option beyond it’s own very forceful solution. It seeks control. It does not trust, it does not believe the best, and it speaks before it thinks. It needs its way, and it needs it now.
Fear reserves no hope for another person to find restoration if left to their own devices, and therefore exerts its will over them, on the premise of saving them, or doing what’s best for them. Even when fear would set up righteous circumstances for another person which would ultimately yield a healthier environment, fear is a wrong motivator because it breaks the free will of another person.
People need their autonomy if any change they make will become their own, and therefore be enduring.
This is true especially when we are trying to overcome sin. Our free will, as humans, is the most effective weapon God equipped us with by which we may guard our own hearts from evil. Love knows this. Where fear would have us create another person’s safe new world, love would have us spur another on to do so for themselves. (Hebrews 10:24). It is our own willful resistance to the devil that drives him away, not the manufactured circumstances set up by those who love us.
James 4:7 tells us, “Submit yourselves to God… Resist the devil, and he will flee from you…”. It does not say, “Let someone submit you to God… hide from the devil and let someone resist him for you.”
Obviously, in rare circumstances, such as life-threatening situations, especially when minors are involved, an intervention may be necessary – and this would truly be the option love would orchestrate. But this is the nuclear option. There is always a season of mistrust after an intervention, until that person comes to see your reasons for themselves, and agrees with them, and aligns their own will with what you decided for them. If you seek long-term restoration, be sure you weigh your options. This can only happen so many times before rebellion takes over. We are innately aware that we must choose righteousness for ourselves, and someone choosing it for us leaves us victim to unrighteousness. It is very hard to make a distinction of your own will when someone is declaring theirs over you.
Fear is a crafty thief; it’ll take what it can, when it can, and it plays for keeps.
We must work to be wise to its ways, and overcome its evil with the greater weapons God has given us: faith, hope, and love.
August 14, 2012