There Is No Fear In Love
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear... —1st John 4:18
But how? What don't I understand about the relationship between God and myself that makes me so prone to fear sometimes?
I'm afraid of so many things. For six months after we moved into our house I would lay awake at night, worrying about everything. What if the house burned down and I couldn't get my kids out? What if someone broke in? What if the floor gave way and my bed landed on my kids? What if what if what if what if what if what if????
And while I've finally put those fears to rest (so to speak), there is so much that I still fear. I fear I will never get a better job. I fear I will lose my current job. I fear that I'm ruining my children's lives by not being a good enough father. I fear that I'm failing my wife. I fear the economy going to pieces and that, in an apocalypse scenario, nobody will need a person with an MBA. I fear that nobody needs a person with an MBA right now.
But I have faith. I believe in God. I believe that He loves me and my family and every person everywhere. That's what this blog is all about, right?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. — Luke 12:7 (emphases mine)
So how do I use God's perfect love to cast out all my imperfect fear?
Well, if I knew that I'd be a better person than I am. But here are a few things that might help.
- “Forget yourself and go to work.” It's a true principle. When I am busy doing good things I'm much less afraid. I really think that fear largely lives in those times when we're all wrapped up in our own heads. Just getting out of that self-doubt-self-hatred-self-doubt loop helps so much. If I'm thinking about and helping others I'm not being afraid of my own shortcomings.
- Recognize Availability Heuristic and Reject It. This one is a bit more mental, but still helps me a lot. We have to remember that bad news sells. So news outlets publish bad news. Bad news is interesting: we naturally want to know about bad things so we can avoid having them having them happen to us. So to cast out all fear I need to actively fight against the concept that the world is falling apart. Indeed, if you look at the numbers, the world is safer and more peaceful now than it has ever been. So I need to resist the temptation to shape my world view around people who are just making money. And instead I should seek my own view of the world around me. There is good to be found. Effort to improve the world isn't wasted. Optimism isn't foolishness.
- Love Everyone. It's easy to hate “the other” by grouping them into a large scary mass. That's the basis of all zombie movies (along with a fear of becoming a faceless other). It's much harder to hate someone you know, someone you've served, someone you love. I believe this is at least part of why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends our young people out on missions. We send our members out—at a time when they are shaping their worldview—and ask them to unconditionally love people from somewhere else. So this might just be a restatement of the first point. Well, like I said, I don't have all the answers. Or any answers! Or maybe just one answer, over and over.
- Oh Yeah, It Really Is Just That One Answer, Over and Over Love Thy Neighbor as thyself. Everyone is my neighbor.
Maybe that's enough to get started? Maybe if I love others I won't fear them. Maybe if I trust God enough to disconnect from the news industry, I can see things the way He sees them. Maybe I can trust Him to be in charge, and stop trying to keep the whole world in my head.