ARE YOU ALLOWING FEAR TO DOMINATE YOUR LIFE?
A child enters into this world without any fears. Before they are around this earth very long something will occur that will allow fear to enter into their life. Too often one grows up and is filled with a variety of fears.
What is fear?
What is fear? I have developed a definition that applies to most fears that adults experience.
‘Fear is the emotion developed when we ‘feel’ we are about to lose something we value.’
Some things that can be valued are our lives, our possessions, our positions, and our relationships. The greater we hold onto these things (or value them) the greater our fear can become.
HOWEVER, it is not really the loss of ‘things’ or ‘positions’ that is the force behind our fear. Allow me to develop this thought as you consider how this applies to your life.
Layers of processing
Let’s take the example of a relationship that applies to single adults – the fear of not having a mate – and process the elements behind the fear.
Everyone has layers of processing within themselves.
1. The surface layer is what I call the ‘thinking’ or intellectual layer. I am not a trained counsellor but my way of considering this area is that what we think dictates our behavior. But this layer is actually on top of other layers that have more force and influence on us than our actual thoughts.
2. The next layer is our ‘feeling’ or emotional layer. Yes, this is a powerful one that influences much of what we think and then how we behave. Feelings run strong and can serve us well or take us way off course.
3. The deepest level is the ‘I am’ or self-image area. This is the subconscious within us and is where the forces that drive our feelings and thoughts originate. We are not aware of these inner forces much of the time because they have been developed by life’s experiences. This is where we internalize our world and create a ‘fence’ around who we think we are and what we think we deserve and can do.
How do these layers relate to our fears? I suggest that an understanding of these layers can offer you a great understanding of why you fear and how to properly address the fear.
Understand the layers to understand why you fear to address fear
The Bible speaks of this inner force that dictates a person’s behavior. Proverbs 23:7 states ‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he..’ The heart is used in the Bible to speak of the inner self, the Spirit of a person. It is at this level that God created the force that propels our lives. Not only is this the area that must be ‘born again’ to become a child of God, it is the area where change must occur before it can fuel the emotions and thoughts.
Fear of not finding a mate
Let me illustrate a likely scenario that applies to many single adults in their fear of not finding a mate:
1. The outer ‘thinking’ layer is consumed with the fact that one is alone. Wherever they look they see couples or families experiencing the ‘joy’ that they desire. The thinking develops to the point that they see themselves as not ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable.’ It can develop into an obsessive behavior by becoming consumed to ‘correct’ this condition.
2. Loneliness and the pain of not having someone with whom they can share life occupy the ‘feeling’ layer. While it is a natural desire to want companionship, it can develop to the stage of depression and handicap one from living life at their fullest and being attractive to others.
3. The inner ‘self-image’ level is where the real source of the above noted feelings and thoughts begin. One can rationalize their thoughts away or might even be able to temporarily soothe their ‘feelings’ (via sex, drugs, improper behavior), but the force keeps surfacing. Unless one realizes the real force behind their feelings and thoughts, they will never be able to find a healthy solution.
a. Recall that I noted this is the self-image area impacted by life’s experiences.
b. The force that may be causing the feelings and thoughts is more likely to be the feeling of unworthiness or being unlovable.
c. If this force is not dealt with properly, it is like walking around with a big sign begging for others to take advantage of you. One might misinterpret if he/she is not careful. They are strongly motivated to correct a challenge – but have no idea what the real cause of the challenge is.
One can try to use ‘positive’ thinking, actively pursue religious activity, or join self-help groups in an effort to BEND thinking and behavior into a desired result. These approaches are temporal and do not address the force, and thus do not have long-term positive results.
What is the true force behind your fear?
What is the true force behind your fear? You can place a lot of labels on the fear at the ‘thinking’ or ‘feeling’ stage. But what is the deeper, sub-conscious force that is screaming to be satisfied?
Life’s experiences, my own journey, and a ministry to many single adults have developed an awareness that…
the single most powerful inner force that is active in every life is the desire for ‘unconditional love,’
This need is one that I believe God placed within us in creation. It MUST be satisfied or it will place a demand upon our lives that will force its way into our feelings and thoughts, and thus behaviors.
The layers that are a part of each person is not a novel idea on my part. Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote a revolutionary book in the 1960’s named ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’ that was a primary source of this thinking. The Bible refers to this as the ‘heart of a man’ or the inner ‘spirit’ that dictates where our lives go. My experience has been that most of us do not translate this premise into a practical application for our lives.
Once again I state that I am not a trained counsellor but share my thoughts out of my own journey and the experience I have gained in relating to the lives of others. Let me share a personal illustration:
I was divorced after a 25-year marriage at about age 50. The next few years seemed mostly like a haze and I tried desperately to find stability and purpose for my life. I was so alone and obsessed with marrying again.
As I look back on this time of my life, I cannot believe the powerful forces that were at play in my life. I did things, saw things, and became obsessed at finding a mate. My behavior was far from ‘normal’ and I found myself hating the me who was ‘acting out!’
Fortunately for me, I was led to a church that had an awesome singles pastor. This pastor led me in a wise way to make ‘self-discoveries.’ (I believe that self-discoveries are the only true way that we make real changes in our lives.
Someone may ‘preach’ their premise at us and we may try to embrace it, but it is only when we discover for ourselves the truth that we have the fuel to make the change).
At his suggestion, I found a counsellor and began an attempt to discover what the power behind this force was. It took several months and a lot of time to get below the defensive mechanisms that I had built into my life to really allow myself to get to the deeper level.
The discovery that I found was so life changing that it has served as the driving force in my life and now ministry. I was abandoned through a divorce when I was 5 years old when my Mother left and I lived with my Father (a pastor). This set up a pattern in my life of hungering for unconditional love. I kept waiting and dreaming of the day that my Mother would come and ‘rescue’ me from the life that I had been forced upon me.
Whatever I did or whomever I built a relationship with, the force of finding unconditional love was really what was at play. I truly felt unworthy and was trying to fill my need for worth ‘through’ others. This created a cycle and void that no one could stop or fill.
Here is a truth that I invite you to embrace. On our BEST days, you and I are filthy rags and capable of deep and devastating sin. Our selfish natures will drive us to extreme thinking and behavior if left unchecked. Alcoholics are taught that they will always be an alcoholic. You and I must realize, that even though we may be a Child of God, we are still capable of great sin. The Bible is filled with such stories.
Embracing of two truths
For me, it was not until I embraced two truths that my self-image began to change for the best:
1. I am a sinner and capable of continuing great sins if left unchecked.
2. God has known this all the time, and I see evidence of over and over where He ‘chased’ me with unconditional love. He has always accepted me no matter where I was or what I have done – or do.
Since I was a Pastor’s son and accepted Christ at the age of 6, and since I was in full-time ministry during my 40’s, I was under the false assumption that if I disciplined my life enough I would be okay. It was after this approach that I fell into sin by having an affair. It is still unbelievable how ugly I became in my sin.
The consequences of my false assumptions and choices lived themselves out through a divorce and then several years of confusion and bouncing around without a beacon. I always love God, and always felt that God was with me, yet not condoning my choices.
Fell unconditional love
It was when I totally embraced the fact of my real nature AND the fact that God loved me in spite of me that I finally felt the unconditional love that I had been seeking for over 45 years.
1 John 4:18 says:
‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’
Begin on the right foundation
My dear friends, you must begin on the right foundation if you want any chance to build success in your life.
The correct foundation is to truly see, understand, and embrace the unconditional love that God wants to flood over you. Until you take this step I believe that you are not able to live life without the wrong forces impacting your choices. You are also unable to be healthy enough to be ready for, attract, and experience the love you desire in a mate.
A huge factor contributing to unsuccessful relationships is the wrong expectations. If one’s
expectations are built upon the wrong forces, it is impossible to achieve a pure and healthy love.
What forces play a part in your life?
Do you know what forces are at play in your life? I hope that you will take some time with God and ask His Spirit to guide you to the deep understanding He wants you to have. I also want to encourage you to find a good counsellor to guide you to the ‘self-discoveries’ essential to find the freedom, joy, and love you desire and deserve.
You have nothing to lose/fear…
One final thought for your consideration:
If God owns everything in your life, you have nothing to lose/fear. If you insist upon possessing anything or anyone, then you are subjecting yourself to fear. God does not want you to fear anything (other than survival instincts) but Him.