Note: This week, I will be sharing stories of my emotional journey. I think we often misunderstand or neglect emotional health. God has been working on this in my life. All of these are intended to tell what happened to me, not to tell you what to do. They are anecdotes NOT advice. You have your own journey and have to do your own research. Feel free to share your stories in the comments or in an email. I would love to read them!
I believe that most negative emotions trace back to the central emotion of fear. Sometimes, a person erupts in anger or tears or jealousy. However, almost always these emotions trace back to that person being afraid of something.
This has happened to me in ways that are subtle. What we often don’t realize is that fears can be real or imagined. And even if the thing we fear is real, fear is often not a helpful response to that reality.
I’m sure there are many things humans fear, but there are three fears I believe to be unhealthy. The more I move away from them, the more I find emotional freedom in my life.
1. Fear of man
This is a complex fear. We often don’t think we’re afraid of other people, but fear extends beyond your worry that your next door neighbor could be a sociopath or the guy in the Wal Mart parking lot is about to rob you.
Most often our fears regarding other people are, “What will people think of me?” or “What is their opinion of my looks, home, parenting, spirituality, etc.?”
When we live a life based on how other people view us, we must realize that we will be emotionally spent. One reason is that it is not possible to please everyone. Another reason is we are created to please only One Person. Pleasing Him is our act of worship. All other attempts to please out of fear are an act of worshiping the wrong person or thing.
2. Fear of loss
We are self-centered creatures aside from God’s grace. We want to grasp and hold on to all of His gifts as if we deserve them or earned them. All we have is given to us by Him. When we begin to look more to the gift than the Giver, we begin to partake in idolatry.
However, this fear is also subtle. It does not always manifest itself in materialism and grasping for things. Sometimes we fear losing people or losing our health or losing our jobs. These are always possibilities, but to fear is to attempt to take control of things beyond our control. Only One is in complete control of all things.
3. Fear of the future
Our preservation of the future only goes so far. We can only do so much to be financially stable in retirement. We can only do so much to preserve our health. We can do nothing to avoid death or determine our final destiny.
However, there is One Who controls all of those things. The best news is He has determined our final destiny with Him by taking our eternal punishment on Himself. This fear can be put to rest by allowing Him to cleanse our hearts and prepare us for our eternal destiny with Him in Heaven.
The only healthy fear is the fear of the Lord. We fear Him in reverential awe. He is the One in complete control, therefore He is the only One to trust. We fear Him in a distressing way if we are rebelling against Him. But when we trust and surrender, our fear turns to a healthy one. We can rest completely in Him, knowing that pleasing Him will result in an abundant life here and eternal life in Heaven.