My Biggest Fear

7:17 AM

Confession: I am slightly majorly afraid of the dark. Things would have healed over just fine were it not that I'd watched War of the Worlds and E.T. one too many times. Oh, and read Nancy Drew mysteries about glowing red eyes as bedtime stories. Getting into bed was a terrifying ordeal: I'd crack open the door. Let the hall nightlight creep in before me. Take big breaths. Loosen up. One, two, three -- and bolt it to bed. If I survived the feet-barely-touching-floor flight from door to ladder, I dove headfirst into the covers and lay there with shattered nerves for thirty minutes.

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.

Scary.

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

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9 impressions

  1. Ohhhh, Bailey... I really needed to read this today. Thank you so much for being honest. I struggle in the same way and God has been teaching me so much about love... and how, even though it is a risk and you could get hurt, it really is worth it. Especially when you already have the everlasting love of our Savior to hold you when things get hard. :)

    Thanks again and God bless!
    Rachel

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  2. I'm with you on this journey, Rachel!

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  3. I think that I'm afraid of love, too. I just don't want people to see all of my bad parts and imperfections, so I tend to build up a wall there.

    P.S. We had a tarantula encounter in the kitchen earlier, so I'm not feeling too crazy about creepy crawlers like the one pictured, either (no matter how many times I read Charlotte's Web). I also don't like the dark and still sleep with a small lamp on the other side of my room. :) Though it was my younger brother who once saw E.T. at the foot of his bed.

    ~Kristin

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  4. Yikes, Bailey - another topic that I just wrote about in my journal the other day. Are you sending the brain waves my way, or the other way around?

    Seriously, though, I think most of us are afraid to really love and bare everything to people. Because you're right - it does make us vulnerable, and it does carry a major risk of being badly hurt. It's definitely something I haven't figured out yet, but it's very good to know that there are others who understand! :-)

    It is SO good to know that we can open up every bit of ourselves to the Lord and He will never, never hurt us or abuse our trust. And on the flip side, the Bible says that He shares with us His secrets as well - He is the ultimate Example of loving so much that He shares every part of Himself with us. I'm sure we do hurt Him frequently, yet He never stops loving us or talking with us or sharing the secrets of His Word with us. It's simply overwhelming to think about.

    And finally - no, the spider is NOT cute. I have ... spider issues. The thing is repulsive. :-P

    Have a wonderful day, my friend!!

    Love,
    Vicki

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  5. I totally understand the fear of love. And I'm tired of it. :)

    And that spider is cute if you look past all the spider-ness. It kind of has a smiley face. :)
    <><

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  6. You too? Housefires have always been one of my greatest fears, and it always came out when it was time to go on a trip. When my backpack and suitcase were full, I would deliberate and deliberate over which other stuffed animals, dolls, books, and toys were most important to save. =P

    And I too was afraid of love, although I never would have admitted it. I tried so hard to hide the fear, because it, er, scared me. I wanted to trust God, but I doubted that any of my friends really cared, doubted that I would ever fall in love, even doubted that my love for others was sincere.

    The funny thing is that I can't even remember when I overcame it, I'm just so grateful that I did.

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  7. Beautiful, beautiful. LOVE this. Thanks for sharing. [:

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  8. I understand, and thanks for the post. I see so many broken hearts sometimes, I just don't want to open myself up. But I need to learn how to share my heart with the right people, and really love them.

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  9. I thought I was the only one! Thank you for writing this... So true, on so many levels ;D

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