Sometimes I don’t say or do the right thing. Sometimes the result is a bruised heart, punched by my words or actions. Sometimes I know it happened, sometimes I have no idea.
But most of the time, I haven’t done anything at all – I only fear it happened because I expected a response from someone and didn’t get it. Then the wheels of my fearing mind kick into high gear.
“I’ve left two voice mails and a text message over the past 2 weeks, why hasn’t she responded yet? I must have said something to hurt her or make her mad when we had lunch last month.”
“I can’t believe I forgot to do that. No wonder she hasn’t responded to any of my emails! She must be really hurt or mad.”
“She has said ‘no’ the last two times I asked to get together…said she was busy. And she didn’t respond to a text yesterday. I know I must have talked too much last time we got together, so now she’s avoiding me.”
And the big fear: “Am I so full of myself and so self-focused that people don’t want to be around me?“
Translated: I’m afraid of what people think, and afraid they’ll reject me: fear of man and fear of rejection. Twin fears that can suck the joy right out of us, and lead us right into temptation to become prideful and self-seeking.
Yes, in all the wrong ways I’m totally full of myself! I’m making this all about me: how *I* am perceived, and what others think of *me*. I’m also asking the wrong questions, and focusing on the wrong source for the answers:
“If she would just call/text back/respond, then I’ll know *I’m* OK because she still likes me.”
How can I freely speak His truth and love with His love with the twin shackles of fear of man and fear of rejection binding my mouth and my heart?
But I can break free of the shackles by choosing to overcome my fear with the truth: God loves me, values me, and has commanded me to love and value others.
And He also said, “do not fear” hundreds of times in the Bible, so it must be possible to live without fear.
I realized this week that no matter how much God has healed me, and how much truth I know about His love, I can be ambushed by fear and lapse into prideful self-focus in a heartbeat. I also realized that it’s not the “being ambushed” or even the “lapsing” that counts most – I’m human and I live in a fallen world.
What matters most is how *I* respond when the thoughts come and the feelings rise up. I can’t always control how I feel or what thoughts come into my head. I can’t control how others respond to anything I say or do.
But I can always control my own response. I can believe the truth about God’s love and obey Him, and live freely in my relationships to be a blessing to others. Or I can focus on my fears and give the enemy power to influence and control my life and my relationships.
Lord, please forgive me for allowing fear to get a foothold in my thoughts and emotions this week. I bless my friends and ask you to help them with whatever they need. I surrender each friendship to you, and ask You to restore hearts I have wounded. Help me to be a better friend, and to love more freely. Thank you for revealing the truth that set me free from my fears. Help me to stay free!
In Jesus mighty name, AMEN!
TODAY’S CHALLENGE: What situation came to mind as you read this? What will you choose to do next?