Friends, thank you for your grace and patience with me as I have been out of pocket here. Today we continue with the Out of Dark into the Light series with my friend, Tanya Zelem, as guest blogger. Welcome Tanya!
“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.”
~ 1 John 4:18a
She had me at the title: Held Captive by Fear. But the entire time I was reading her piece, there was a nagging question in my head that I couldn’t shake. I’m all about God removing my bricks of fear, but what I couldn’t figure out was how, exactly, He does that. Where in my heart and mind does that process begin? In other words, what needs to happen to get results? [Okay, so I like formulas. And writing in the sky. And perceived control . . . ]
As I was chewin’ on all this with the Lord, I thought about my constant toggling between love and fear. A frustrating and exhausting tug of war in my life.
In my mind, I recall that fear boils down to a lack of trust. So every time I put measures in place to protect my heart, it’s because I’m not trusting Him. I’m not trusting the One who casts out all fear.
But in my heart? I struggle to trust. I struggle hard. If the walls of my soul could talk, they’d tell you that time and time again, I pick up dry dirt of pain with my bare hands and form custom-made bricks of fear. Most times unaware.
And I stack them. One on top of the other – to build sturdy, self-protective fortresses around my heart. In far more areas than I dare admit, I live behind those dark walls, help captive by fear.
And the mortar for these heavy bricks? My selfish heart. My selfish desire to avoid getting hurt. And let me tell ya – there’s no more effective material for securing fear bricks long-term. That intermingling of fear and selfishness makes one solid fortress.
C.S. Lewis describes it far better than I ever could, so here’s what he says,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.
If you want to make sure of keeping it intact,
you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.
Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries;
avoid all entanglements;
lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change.
It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable . . .
The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers . . . of love is Hell.”
On that cold January day as I pondered my frigid fortresses, God gave me a glimpse out of the dark, into the light:
“Whoever wants to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.”
~ Jesus (Matt. 16:25)
The essence of the Gospel and foundation of the Christian life.
A message I’ve heard since my days in my mama’s belly.
It’s not a new concept to this church kid.
Yet it is . . .
Because in my attempts to save my life, to carefully preserve my heart from pain, I’ve been losing it in the process. These fear-made brick walls have choked the life out of my relationships, and my own soul.
Whoever loses his life for Me will find it . . .
Lean in close with me, sweet soul.
Listen as our Father whispers this healing truth to us:
When we surrender to Him our fear of getting hurt
and love sacrificially,
His strong love picks up a chisel
and hammers a crack
right through the middle of our concrete, selfish desire.
And when He does?
Open your eyes wide, my friend.
And watch your bricks begin to crumble.
Because when they crumble,
they can no longer hold together.
Our self-protective fortresses.
And new ones won’t form.
Because bricks of fear cannot be formed from sacrificial love.
Those of you who’ve been held captive by fear know that surrender is fiercely intimidating. It’s a painful process I wrestle against every day. Because every time He hammers through my selfishness, I feel it in the deepest recesses of my being.
I feel the loss of control (even though HE holds my life together, not me).
I feel the uncertainty (even though His plans for me are always for my good).
I feel exposed and vulnerable (even though He is safety and security for my soul).
When I’m tempted to believe the lies over truth, it scares me.
But God’s tender grace calls me to freedom in a voice louder than the lies.
The freedom to give love. And to receive it.
The freedom to experience joy. And pain.
The freedom to die to self
so that I may embrace all fullness of life.
No longer held captive by fear.
Truth in Weakness: Salve of Truth for Weary, Wounded, and Imperfect Souls
Tanya’s been married for 16 years and is recovering from a health crisis that left her incapacitated – without even the strength to lift a spoon. She’s also recovering from the paralysis of perfectionism. And what she’s discovering along her journey is that her weaknesses – whether physical, relational, spiritual, or any other in life – are actually intimate invitations to cling to the Cross.
So Tanya blogs at Truth in Weakness to remind you, as you walk through life’s painful circumstances, that you’re not alone, and that you don’t have to have it all together. She’s created a place where hurting, imperfect hearts call home, and she welcomes you to step inside: www.truthinweakness.blogspot.com