Love and fear occupy similar spaces. Many would claim that they are in opposition to each other – as if we live in a world where there are only two options at any given time. I don’t believe that. I think many things can co-exist at the same time. And while some things are in conflict with each other directly, other things are not so much in conflict as they are presenting two different worldviews. Love and fear fit into that category for me.
Fear is something that strikes to the core of our human self. Fear has a great deal of power. Fear tells us that we lack something and therefore we are afraid. We fear failure because we lack success. We fear not having enough. We fear not being enough. We fear others who are different because we don’t know enough about them.
Love isn’t the opposite of fear, even though many of its qualities seem to be in opposition to fear. But love isn’t in a battle with fear. That would go against love is.
Love also cuts down to the core of who we are as humans. Love doesn’t have power over others, but rather offers something that fear can’t – hope, promise, and potential. Love is invitational in nature. It is vulnerable. It hopes for, but does not require a response, since love is not interested in the acquisition of power over another person. Love sees past the first layer to something deeper.
When we look at the world through the eyes of fear, then we see threats all around us. We see invaders and enemies. We see what will harm us and assume that it is true. We look at the world as something that is dangerous to us, so we must do what we can to protect what we have. Fear, ultimately, is inward focused. Fear has everything to lose. It believes that now is the best we have ever experienced or will experience, so we must do what we can to protect what we have.
When we look at the world through the eyes of love, then we see people who are like us in many ways. We look for what we share in common. We see humans – some broken, some sinful, some who have intent to cause death and/or destruction, some who are running, some who are different. But all are humans, just like us. We see what can harm us and assume nothing about it – what it/they do is not in our control. We look at the world as something that is complex – full of both danger and opportunity. But even the danger is full of opportunity to respond and live differently. Love, ultimately, is outward focused. Love has everything to gain. It believes that the best is yet to come as more people willingly live by love, so we must do what we can to invite more people in, to expand the circle.
Fear and love aren’t at odds with each other, as if they there is room for only one. They occupy the same space, more often than not. The question is what are we listening to – the voice of fear, love, or something else that lives in the same space? What we give our attention to is what we hold at the core of who we are and what we believe about the world, God, one another, and ourselves. What are you listening to?