The perfect love that casts out fear
This morning Aleteia is very pleased to introduce as a regular contributor, Mary Beth Baker, who will be writing a bi-weekly feature entitled Life in the Gap. Mary Beth’s outstanding personal blog, also entitled Life in the Gap, is about a young woman’s daily journey “in between.” In between what? Between the single life and–whatever marvelous things God has in store. But far from being about a time of anxious waiting, Mary Beth’s reflections underscore the richness of living in the present moment. We know not only Generation Y’ers will enjoy following Mary Beth Baker’s Life in the Gap.
It’s amazing how a simple perspective shift can change everything.
Several years ago, I met for the first time with a new spiritual director. Over the course of our conversation, I admitted that I have a big problem with fear.
“What are you afraid of?” he asked me.
“Everything,” I said.
It wasn’t an exaggeration. I’ve always been an anxious person, and as I’ve grown older, my catalogue of scary things to be avoided at all costs has expanded. As a little girl, I feared large machines that made loud noises, life-size mechanical dinosaurs (a long story for another post), dogs, boys, sports, new people, snakes, worms, and angry voices.
I’m an adult now, but I’m still afraid. Afraid of snakes and worms and angry voices, afraid of boys, afraid of new situations and new people, afraid of the unknown, afraid of pain, afraid of hospitals, afraid of people I’ve hurt, afraid of hurting any more people, afraid of loneliness, afraid of being seen, afraid of remaining invisible, afraid of being afraid.
“Perfect love casts out fear,” the priest told me with a smile.
So over the years, I’ve tried to live that kind of love – the perfect kind that will cast out my fear. Whenever I caught myself giving into the usual tremors over something, I’d recite the verse to myself. “Love better,” I’d scold, “and you won’t have to deal with this.”
I started to think I must be single because I was too afraid to love well. “If I could just get closer to perfect love,” I’d think, “I’d be more attractive and more open to dating.”