One of my earliest memories is of drowning. I was a chubby, little, red-haired, bikini-clad toddler desperately trying to grab onto an empty Coors can in a vast ocean.
The beer can bobbled away as I frantically tried to keep my head above the churning water that was pulling me down to the sand below.
It’s my first vivid memory of fear.
As I toddler, I didn’t understand fear. I couldn’t explain it or deal with it.
I only knew that my world was suddenly dark with an unexplained emotion that was drowning me faster than the water.
As a woman over 60 who’s been successful at life (author, speaker, pastor, mom—raised 6 kids, and likes to have fun), it still feels like I’m drowning when my world catches me off guard. (Where did that wave come from?)
It doesn’t matter how young or old you are when you are frightened, the thing that hangs over you is darkness.
Anxiety, distress, and worry are expressions of fear. Each of them can hold your mind and emotions captive.
For fear holds no comfort, warmth, security, or hope within its definition. It is devoid of love, for perfect love holds all things good and pure.
Worry is a warning buzzer
Fear signals that we have forgotten how perfectly the Father loves us.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).
So when we are anxious or worried, it’s a signal that we are embracing darkness instead of light. Fear instead of love.
Our focus is on what might be lost… a life, a relationship, a part of our reputation, or the safety of someone we cherish.
Though we feel that fear is overwhelming, it is fear that must retreat when love is remembered.
In the midst of another wave pushing me towards the sand, a big hand reached under me and pulled me up out of the water and wrapped me close to his chest.
My dad surrounded me with love. And the darkness fled.
In that safe, secure moment, my dad’s comforting love was like lighting banishing fear from the beach. But would love always do that?
Living in imperfect love
I wish I could have experienced my dad’s love every moment of my life. But as a human, Dad was imperfect.
And even though I knew my dad loved me, I didn’t always feel that love as I lived my life and made my mistakes. I often lived in worry mode.
Jesus is different. His love never changes. Yet…
…even though I know God loves me beyond my comprehension, I don’t always feel saturated in it. I sometimes feel anything but pure, secure, treasured, or perfectly loved.
That’s not God’s fault. It’s mine. I’ve forgotten to breathe in, live in, and walk in the center of His love.
The first thing I think about isn’t God’s love when something happens that causes me to fear—or to feel shamed, judged, discarded, or anxious. What I’m thinking about is what I’m feeling… darkness.
Those strong, but often subtle, fear feelings are really signals alerting my brain that I am NOT living in the perfect love of the Father.
I need to pay attention to those feelings.
For fear cannot exist in God’s love.
So how do you experience the Father’s perfect love all the time, so fear has no place in your life?
Three STEPS for living in God’s perfect love
Place several triggers in your daily routine that signal you to remember that you are saturated with God’s love. Get in the habit of using these triggers, so they happen automatically. Here are some examples:
- Before you get out of bed in the morning
- When you brush your hair
- When you start the engine in your car
- When you end a prayer
- When looking at your pile of bills
- When you check your emails
- Before you click on your Facebook app
- Before you sit down at your job
- When you say grace at a meal
- After you put your head down on a pillow
- When you close your eyes to go to sleep
Once you have some positive triggers in place, use them to lecture your soul and spirit about the reality of God’s love for you.
Mentally picture yourself wrapped in the Lord’s arms and held close against His chest. Then speak out loud to yourself with self-talk that sounds something like this:
There is NO fear in God’s love. I am safe in the Father’s arms. He loves me totally and completely. He will never love me less or love me more than He does right now. He gave His life for me to prove His love for me, and has never left me. He is within me—every cell of my body, every part of my soul and spirit—saturating me with His presence and love.
My Father’s love is not moved by darkness, but darkness disappears in His light and love. When darkness and fear are gone, I can face any danger with confidence, clarity, and direction from my Father.
Today I choose to set my mind and heart on my Father’s love for me and NOT the danger that threatens me. There is no fear in love, so I choose to rest in perfect love.
It often takes time for the emotions to catch up to the truth you tell yourself. Use your imagination to picture yourself held in your Father’s arms as you speak His love over your soul and spirit.
Take any dark emotion (fear, anxiety, worry, distress) as a signal to mentally picture yourself back in the Father’s arms by using your sanctified imagination and the self-talk lecture you’ve memorized.
Once you’ve been practicing your positive trigger responses, STEP 3 becomes more comfortable as you train yourself to think of dark emotions as triggers.
That’s it! Practice these 3 steps for a month and feel the results of darkness fleeing the light of God’s perfect love.
You’ve got this, girlfriend!
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