My Biggest Fear7:17 AM
I thought monsters lived under my bed. (Thanks, Monsters, Inc.)
Another confession: I'm kind of afraid of falling, too. My worst preschool nightmares involved me suspended miles above a deep canyon on a rail-less ledge. To this day I have to physically hold myself together whenever my siblings look over the edge of high bridges or Colorado canyons. (They, for some reason, do not appreciate my death grip on their arms.)
And one last confession: When I was younger, I was terrified that my house would burn down while we were on vacation. I was convinced of it. Convinced. I packed as many toys as possible (and my Bible too, of course, lest people think me shallow) into my backpack so part of my home would be with me at all times.
But my biggest fear? I'm afraid of love.
Love? The thing that drives the paperback sales and music industry? The most used word in the English language? The abstract every heart lives for? You read that right -- love. I am afraid of it. Afraid of loving -- afraid of being loved.
Lovey-dovey stuff made me uber uncomfortable -- ladies who called me "dear," friends who gave huge hugs every five seconds, drawn out Hollywood kisses, goo-goo-eyed couples. Please. And don't get me started on people who complimented me or said I was pretty or whatever. That just made me even more self-conscious.
If you know me, you're probably laughing -- because I'm all into hugs, kisses, dears and sappy compliments now. If you don't like hugs, don't come near me. If you're unfamiliar with the words I love you, just stay far away. And if you hate pet names -- I'm sorry, friend, but we wouldn't work well together. (To my credit, I still wince at the Hollywood kisses.)
The thing that makes love embarrassing and exhilarating all at the same time is that it's an intimacy. It's a complete baring of the soul. It's two hearts smack up against each other. It's all or nothing. For a girl with a serious insecurity complex, that intimacy freaked me out.
Love means I have to risk everything. Love means I have to be...vulnerable. Which means I might look bad -- or stupid -- or imperfect. And that is something that doesn't come naturally to me at all.
I've been burned -- given everything and had it crushed. I've opened up and been rejected. I've gone soft and got kicked in the gut. Close friendships crumbled. "Forever" drastically shortened. Numbness seemed safer. It is safer.
I thought I could have love without the intimacy -- just being a caring friend, a good listener, a guardian of my emotions. Platonic love could be awkward, dangerous, scary, but at least it would be a surface wound if the friendship fell through. I gave nothing -- they couldn't take anything -- it just wasn't now, and life moved on.
One problem: I needed love. I needed heart-to-heart resuscitation. And that desire leaked through all the stone-cold masks I created.
That's why love is always extravagant -- "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul" -- "Till death do us part" -- "Best Friends Forever." It's bold. It's fear-defying. It has to be, or it isn't love.
I think back to when my best friend and I moved beyond insecurity into best-friendship. It wasn't multiple playdates or long complimentary birthday letters that did it. It was when she shared with me her biggest secret -- the one she openly admitted she was afraid to tell me.
I think of when a special person might someday say, "I love you" -- terrified that I might not feel the same way but laying bare the biggest hope in his heart. And I admitting "Me too" -- even though it might not work out and hearts might get broken and love may grow cold thirty days or thirty years later.
I think of when God became more than the duty I performed. It wasn't daily prayer, Bible reading or church attendance. It's when I gave Him everything -- said, "I give up: You take all" -- and stripped empty. Like Jesus. He stripped empty of all His glory. He gave everything -- for me. Only then could the veil rip between God and man and intimacy with the Holy One become everyday reality.
It's insane to say I love you and forever in this insane world. But even if there's a big chance love may die and forever end, there's a bigger certainty that love never comes for the fearful soul. So I choose to love, feet-first, nothing held back, no regrets.
There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear. Whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because He first loved us.
1 JOHN 4:18-19