Everyone Has a Choice: fear and love

Don’t Give In to Those Who Motivate by Fear

Fear of the other, fear of those not like us, fear of the strange and unfamiliar – these can be strong motivators when wielded by people with an agenda.

Don’t follow the agenda of fear.

Follow Jesus.

In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear … .
(1 John 4:17-18.)

Everyone has two choices: become what you fear or become what you love.

You become what you fear by thinking you can oppose it by mirroring it. Do you fear something or someone hateful? You can try to keep them away by hating them back. Are they filled with anger and spite? You can be spiteful and angry too. Are they spewing vitriol and lies? You can spew your own vitriolic lies.

You become what you love by mirroring it as well. Do you love kindness and peace and graciousness and compassion? Do you love wisdom and strength of character and perseverance in the face of hardship? Be like the mirror which receives light and reflects what is borne in the light so that others see it as well.

You reflect this in your actions, in your choices, in your thoughts and in your words.

You have a choice. Become what you love.

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Everyone Has Two Choices

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[There are usually more than two choices of course. This post is about when someone is finding themselves deciding between the two particular areas of fear and love. Also, it should not be taken as giving glib advice to people suffering under oppression, abuse or other dire hardships; that would be a completely different blog post with much more situation-specific advice.] 

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11 Responses to Everyone Has a Choice: fear and love

  1. JYJames says:

    Everyone has a choice – one choice? Or the choice between two?
    This post may be an example of binary thinking, IMHO.
    The woman who was assaulted by the Stanford swimmer: she can build a bridge to her assailant with love and peace and kindness? Or hate him with a vengeance? Or build a wall to protect herself from such assailants and to keep such assailants away from her and perpetrating another attack, while testifying the truth in court so that assailants are incarcerated and thus society is protected from future assaults.

    • Tim says:

      It is presented as two choices (you can do this or that) but not in binary fashion (you have only these two choices and no others), so I don’t think it necessarily leads to the results you posit. After all, there are a multitude of ways to reflect what you love.

      The post, rather, calls for all of us to not give in to the temptation to respond to hate with hate, vitriol with vitriol, etc. It does not call for victims to embrace their oppressors. I can see how someone might read it that way superficially, but in doing so they should recognize that there are better ways to understand the point and should reject the superficial reading to get at the deeper meaning in the post.

  2. Tim, I just want to share an experience I had yesterday that seems to tie in to your post. My daughter and I went out for lunch; we sat on an outdoor patio on our city’s busiest street so there were lots of people streaming by. A guy went by in a wheelchair, smoking. Then a woman came from the other direction with 2 little dogs on a leash. I smiled at her and instantly she stopped and said “That guy in the wheelchair is a real #$%^.” My first thought was uh-oh, this isn’t going to be good — and my instinct was to shut down my expression, turn away, ignore, give her the cold shoulder. But I waited, and she kept talking: “He’s a #$%^ — I don’t know why a person in that predicament has to be such an a****e” and on and on. I finally said, “That sounds really frustrating” and she said “It really is” and then she went on meandering down the street. I have no idea what was going on but I just had this voice inside like “You can connect, or you can disconnect. You can choose one or the other.” Maybe there’s no one right answer that applies to every situation, but in the moment I could choose whether to shut her out or give her ten seconds of my time and attention. It was a small thing, but it really left me thinking — mostly about the times when I choose to avoid and turn away out of fear and discomfort.

    • Tim says:

      “You can connect, or you can disconnect.”

      That’s a great way to analyze it, Jeannie. Thanks for setting the example for us to connect with the people around us. (And as an introvert, I need the reminders!)

  3. Tim, I love the understanding and sensitivity you show by acknowledging that this is a beautiful truth which does not have a “one-size-fits-all” application.

    There was a time, when I was suffering the effects of abuse, that I would not have been able to see the truth because of my pain. Without your disclaimer, I might have even felt condemned that I couldn’t seem to make the choice to love. You show such loving awareness to those still in that place.

  4. JYJames says:

    “I don’t wish to simplify what is actually intricate,” writes Charles Baxter in his work on subtext.

    Without knowing the subtext of this post, or in other words, what fear is being considered for a response, perhaps there are several directions.

    Regarding angry fearful politics or the fear of the unknown “other”, one would hope the various polarized viewpoints would build bridges of understanding, possibly even love.

    Regarding the fear present in a violated child, when a victim finally puts together the words to tell a responsible adult what happened to them, the first question in response should NEVER be: Have you overcome your fear, forgiven your perpetrator and built a bridge of love and grace and forgiveness with the perpetrator? Rather: Are you safe now with a wall of protection around you so you never have to go through this again?

    • JYJames says:

      Along this wave length, during family Bible study, one of our sons once noted: “David knew to slay Goliath and flee Saul.”

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