Last Friday I saw War Room (the movie your parents probably told you about) and cried like a baby because anything Jesus-themed makes me weep, no matter how cheesy it is. The plot revolved around a dysfunctional marriage, which caused me to squirm around in my seat like a kid with a small bladder because I can’t separate movies from reality until the lights turn back on and the credits roll. At one point, the husband was toying around with the idea of having an affair, and I felt so uncomfortable I turned to Catherine and said, “This is actually my worst nightmare, I need a bathroom break.”
Here’s a bit of what our conversation looked like on the way home:
Me: I think I have marriage issues. And I know I’m laughing but it’s actually not that funny. *Nervous laughter*
Cat: Yeah, it’s not funny. I think you’re afraid of committing to the same person for the rest of your life because you think it’s suffocating.
Me: *More nervous laughter*
Cat: That’s a lie, though. You’re going to flourish. Marriage is a gift and God gives good gifts. You need to write down all the lies you believe about marriage and let Him show you the truth.
Me: You’re right.
Cat: *Ascends into heaven*
But then I got home and fell asleep before I could make a list and let God show me the truth. The next morning, though, on a two-hour drive to Chattanooga, I sensed the gentle and familiar whisper of God—lets talk about it. He wouldn’t let it go, even if I wanted to.
“Fine,” I said, breaking the silence of my empty car, “Let’s talk.” And I unloaded everything. Sometimes whispering. Sometimes yelling. Always crying. A hurricane of words and fears thrown at the feet of my Father.
It’s just that I’m afraid of hitching my wagon to someone else’s for the next fifty years. I’m afraid I’ll lose my identity. I’m afraid I’ll forfeit my dreams of leading worship and speaking and writing. I’m afraid because lots of my married friends are miserable or getting divorced. I’m afraid that I’ll be stuck at home with ten kids running around the house sticking cheerios up their noses while my husband gets to work an awesome job and preach the Gospel. And speaking about kids, I’m afraid of birthing them because they’re the size of bowling balls. ACTUAL BOWLING BALLS COMING OUT OF MY BODY.
It was a sloppy, verbal list, but a list nonetheless and it would have to do. I quickly ended with a disclaimer and said, “I know they’re all lies…I just need to figure out why I’m being illogical and combat my fears with truth.”
Several minutes went by, then He broke the silence.
Love combats fear. Not logic.
Perfect love casts out fear.
It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but in typical God fashion it was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed a new revelation of God’s love for me. As a Dad. As a Husband. As a Friend. As the Giver of good gifts. As the Guide of my life.
In that moment, I didn’t need to assert better logic until my fears crumbled in intimidation. I needed grace to believe God tells the truth— that He loves me and leads me into righteousness, not destruction. That Christ-centered marriage doesn’t suffocate, but flourish. That His love satisfies me, not anybody else’s. That my primary identification will always be in relation to Him, not my husband or kids or family or church. That I won’t be afraid forever.
And I won’t be afraid forever. Because perfect love expels fear, and perfect love is mine in Christ. And as I cast down my fears—sometimes in raindrops, sometimes in hurricanes—He is faithful to bear the burden. Faithful to continually prove His love, time and time again. Until little by little, I grow less afraid and more trusting. Less doubtful and more full of faith.
Because Jesus’s love combats fear— whatever you fear, and however you fear it.
Receiving and resting in His love is the answer. And please hear this: it’s all yours.
Drink deeply. Taste it. See it. Know that it is good.
That it changes things. That it expels fear.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love… So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”
-1 John 4:7-8; 16-19