I'm going to get a little deep on this post, so bare with me. Can Love and Fear coexist? Is Fear the opposite of Love? I believe the answer to the first question is No and the answer to the second question is Yes! It is one of those eternal truths that can be easy to see but so very difficult to put into practice.
To illustrate this...think about Jesus Christ. Did Jesus Christ ever act out of fear? I'm no biblical scholar, but I can't think of a single instance when Jesus Christ acted out of fear. Why? He lived with the same fears we face. Why did Jesus always act from a place of love? I believe the answer lies in the fact that Christ was completely secure with Himself. He knew exactly who He was and what His purpose was. Even if everything was taken from Him (and it was) He still showed no fear and acted from a place of love.
This relates back to my post about value. Isn't that one of our greatest fears? That we will lose those things that give us value? But if we start with an unconditional sense of value we transcend that fear. I've struggled with this concept a lot in my life, but it keeps ringing true. And it always seems like God keeps sending people and circumstances into my life that will continue to teach me how to love in the face of my fears.
When I examine the situation closely enough, it almost always comes down to my fears of exposing my insecurities. This has come up most recently with my rebellious teenager. How can I discipline a teenager who is making destructive choices if I'm afraid? Afraid that he is destroying his life. Afraid that I will look like a failure as a parent. Afraid that I'm not good enough to be telling him what to do. Afraid that he will take our family down that path with him.
Most often this fear shows up with the need to belittle, and threaten with anger. But those are only knee jerk responses based on fear. Loving a teenager and allowing them to accept responsibility for their actions can go hand in hand. In fact allowing a teenager to accept responsibility for their actions is THE most loving thing you can do.
Think about how Jesus handled situations when confronted with a person who made a mistake. Did he diminish their value as a person? Did he tell them they were a lost cause and give up on them? Or did he love them even more and encourage them to find a better path.
I have to admit that I haven't been too Christ-Like in my relationships with those closest to me. I often over-react, and let my fear take over. I've given up on people. I've run away from situations. I've tried to make them look like the bad guy so I can feel better about myself. And all these actions were based on fear.
I know I'm in good company when I admit to these faults. We all act based on our fear and insecurity on occasion. And I think we all have the ability to improve and find a way to overcome those fears and act from a place of love. And I truly believe that it all starts with loving and accepting ourselves so we can be secure with who we are and why we are here.