“We stopped checking for monsters under the bed, when we realized they were inside of us.” (The Joker from Batman)
For years, I struggled with a horrible disease. It hurt my family. As I sit here in the wee hours under cover of darkness waiting for my first grandbaby to be born, one of my greatest desires is that he won’t ever succumb or even have to fight this monster. No, it’s not cancer. It’s not heart disease. It’s not anything that modern medicine in the traditional sense can address. The disease is fear. What is the cure?
One of the “not-so-good” things I do when I don’t feel well or have some kind of physical symptom (I know at least two or three of you reading this do this exact same thing) is check WebMD. There is a handy symptom checker, and most of the time, many deadly diseases come up as a possibility when I have a headache, my left-side hurts, and I have a funny mark under my chin (you get it…you’ve had those weird symptoms too). Needless to say, it sends me to a “not-so-good” place (if you are taking notes and you have medical-related anxiety, NEVER USE THE SYMPTOM CHECKER ON WEBMD!).
I don’t need a symptom-checker for fear. The manifestations have been evident in abundance for as long as I can remember in my own life, the lives of those I love, acquaintances, and even strangers. It doesn’t take long to spot them. They include: striving, hating, arguing, comparing, performing, blaming, controlling, bragging, shaming, judging, pretending, slandering, and hiding, among others. I’m sure you have your own list to add. It’s a little more tricky to understand the driver behind these behaviors: fear.
What is our greatest collective fear? I would venture to say it might just be the fear of being unloved, not belonging and ultimately rejection. No wonder there are so many symptoms. It makes so much sense.
Left unchecked, fear increases. Hope diminishes. The above symptoms get worse. Sometimes, addictions develop. Relationships with ourselves and others suffer.
So what is the cure? I can confidently shout from the top of my roof that the cure is LOVE, plain and simple love. “Perfect love casts out fear.” (John)
“Love is an experience that is given and received.” If we had a symptom-checker for love, it would include: safety, connecting, trusting, humility, vulnerability, harmony, encouragement, openness, and resting. These certainly sound like the very opposite of fear.
One of the things that fear does to us is isolate us from others, from what our hearts long for: love, belonging and acceptance. We believe that we can protect ourselves through isolation and lack of trust. The result is the contrary: fear grows and multiplies. Can this true debilitation be treated? Yes. True treatment is not in protection, but in vulnerability, scary as that is. It happens on walks, around tables, in homes, all kinds of places, anywhere that hearts connect.
Is that enough? Do we just need the venue? I would plainly say no. We also need the conduit. It’s not enough to be with people, side-by-side, together, but alone. We have had enough of that at big parties or even small family gatherings, to understand that fear can abound in any environment. What we really need is the language of grace. Received and given. My new online friend, Janet Newberry speaks these words:
“Grace is a language, and it’s so much more than a language.
There is real, and supernatural, power in the words we speak, and the words we refuse to speak. There is power to heal or destroy, to strengthen or weaken, and we hold this power in our words.
When grace is spoken, new life is wooed forth, from our new hearts within. Good life. Deep satisfying life.”
Fear language speakers are filled with the symptoms we noted above. You don’t have to go too far (just go on social media, watch the news, check out what’s going on in your own home or maybe even passing through your own lips), to see blame, shame, judgment, comparison, slander, arguments, boasting, and the list goes on.
The opposite is also true. Humility, trust, understanding, kindness, encouragement, and vulnerability permeate the language of the grace speaker. Connection happens. Fear is quelled. Love prevails.
God’s ultimate will for us is that we love and be loved. He gently reminds us to love others the way He’s loved us. That’s a love you can trust. God communicates to us in the language of grace. He is the ultimate grace-giver.
Yes, the cure is Love. “Love is a connection that speaks grace.” Love is not a blog. Love is not a sermon. Love is not a book. Those are good, but they are one-way streets. Love is relationship. Love is people. Connection. Safety. Vulnerability. Humility. The ultimate language of grace is to know another and be known, to accept and be accepted, true and unconditional love.
Will baby Broden’s generation be the one that has the cure for this horrible disease called fear? I am hoping for that. I want to be, as Janet reminds me, a “cure carrier,” who speaks grace in safe relationships. It’s free for you and for me. I pray that my heart will be on this continuing journey of receiving and giving grace, hope and love. And that out of that more healed heart, my mouth will speak loudly and often.
“There is no fear in love.” (John)
(Click HERE to see Janet Newberry’s website, who I follow whole-heartedly because she speaks the language of grace which I need desperately and want to learn more about. I have taken much of these thoughts from her in this post. Anything in quotes is from her.)