I'll end with a haiku.

For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.
— 2 Timothy 1:7

I know fear very well. To the point where I operate under it, dutifully, without noticing until a long while later.  Fear has existed in my life as a false protector: to shield me from disappointment, to keep me swaddled in monotonous comfort, and to bind me to "safety." Fear kept me from intimacy, building strong relationships, and learning how to love and be loved well. I did not recognize it's poison until I came to know Christ.

My speech is still tainted with protective phrases. Am I open enough? (My friends assure me, yes, I am one of the most open people they know and I have a gift of making others feel comfortable around me.) And yet, this is only one of the lies I have believed for so long: that I am distant, not open, not vulnerable, not dependent, too independent, too strong, too cold, too damaged to be loved. My fear of others' perceptions of me? Dangerous. Not of this world.

Friends, I know these are all lies. But these are lies I bought into for years. The miracle is this: that I am free from this bondage. And yet, in the most unexpected seasons – like now, for example – it is an actual battlefield. Spiritual warfare is real. I have to stay in constant vigilance so as not to fall back into those old, deadly, and fearful habits.

With every seemingly trite decision, I have to ask myself: "Am I doing this out of fear? Am I inclining towards not doing this out of fear? If I were truly acting out of the Spirit of power, implanted in me, would I make this decision or respond this way?" It is humbling, humiliating, and frightening to be confronted with that, which then further exposes other sins.

I am tired, tonight. Tomorrow is a new day. Vigilance remains.

Shawn LiComment