How do Love and Fear Relate to Each Other?
“There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear”.
- The fear of being rejected or replaced by someone else, that someone else is worth more than I am
- The fear of being hurt, of not being loved the way we need to be loved
- The fear of being alone, of insignificance, of being forgotten
- The anger that results from hurt, from of being disrespected or unloved
All of these fears translate into relationship problems-in marriage, families, parents, & friendships:
Blaming, attacking, criticizing, shunning, shutting out, not listening, jealousy & suspicions, competition, envy, defensiveness, infidelity, abuse, resentment, and the list goes on and on…We can all identify these feelings and actions in our relationships at times, although we may not trace them back to their source-fear.
We sometimes expect our parents to love us perfectly, our spouses to make us feel great and loved all the time, and our children to show us that they love us in every way…our expectations are often met with disappointment and hurt. Even those closest to us can’t love us perfectly…at best they will love us to the best of their ability. They have their own love needs, their own hurts and hangups. A blissful wedding is no guarantee that our spouse will love us forever, our beautiful babies will one day disappoint us, and our parents who should love us unconditionally and put our needs above their own needs let us down. Their lack of love is not a reflection of our value and worth, it is a reflection of their own issues, hangups and love needs being unmet. The more we try to get that perfect love from them, the more we will be disappointed, because as humans they aren’t capable! We should stop looking for our value and worth from others. When we find ourselves angry and frustrated, we can take a moment to ask ourselves if we’re expecting our worth to come from a fallible human instead of from the source of love.
So where does Perfect Love come from? Where is that source of love that “casts out fear”? It can only come from the One who is LOVE. He isn’t loving some of the time, when we behave, or when he feels like it. His very essence is LOVE and the word GOD is synonymous with LOVE.
We have heard that “God is Love”, (whether we call the source “God” or something else…) but do we really believe it deep in our hearts? Is it knowledge stored in our heads, or is it real, do we feel it in our gut? Do we breathe it daily, do we stand on it, do we lean on it? Can we relax in our relationships because our whole being and worth is laying restfully in this love? Do we refrain from expecting, blaming, criticizing, and hurting others for their lack of love, because we realize that we are already fully loved?
Can we forgive our parents for their shortcomings and bad parenting, can we understand our spouse’s mistakes and our children’s selfishness, because we are no longer expecting them to love us perfectly, because we already have all the love we need?
Our worth shouldn’t and can’t come from others…they aren’t equipped to do that and they’re dealing with their own love needs. So let them off the hook. Forgive them for their imperfections. Let go of those expectations. Next, look to God daily and give yourself to Him, accept his perfect love for you, and go about your day knowing that you ARE worthy and you ARE loved. Completely. There is nothing you can do to make Him love you less, or love you more.
Deborah Pinkston, Ph.D.