“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (loving fearlessly), because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” [1 John 4:18 / NKJV, parenthesis added].
Each year around Valentine’s Day, we focus on love and being loved. And it’s usually not the “for God so loved the world” unconditional, sacrificial kind of love either. It’s the sappy, overwhelming, feel-good, affirming, affectionate, kissy-poo kind of love. We entertain thoughts of tender moments. We dream of being held in the arms of that special someone who loves us dearly. For at least one day, two hearts beat as one.
Unfortunately, bold, selfless, passionate, loving expressions seem headed for extinction. For most unmarried people, hope of everlasting romance is still high. But those who are “single again” usually associate pain with that reality. Divorce tears hearts apart that used to glow and grow together. Death separates loving hearts. Infidelity, domestic abuse, and fear of being vulnerable again chill many hearts. Past hurt and betrayal prompt many people to grow distant, a little colder, untouchable, unfeeling. Yet, internally, the desire to live and love again still burns.
Created for Relationships
God created us for human relationships. Marriage was the first institution He established. However, when that sacred bond is broken, we become cynical, fearful, and disillusioned. Add to that the busyness of life and the rigidity of routines and, voila. We create the perfect emotional Ice Age.
And yet, God reminds us there is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. What an enormous, thought-provoking statement! Loving with boundaries or restrictions isn’t love at all. There shouldn’t be even the slightest hesitation. We shouldn’t have even the smallest fear or timidity in expressing how we feel. Additionally, true love involves no inhibitions (fear of being vulnerable, exposed, or completely open with someone) or holding part of ourselves in reserve.
If what Scripture says is true and there is no fear in love, then loving someone should not involve fear, reserves, hesitation, timidity, inhibitions, or even mediocrity. Contrarily, love should be the fullest, most willingly vulnerable expression for someone who reciprocates in a mutual manner with the same interest level and intensity.
Common Sense – Caution & Integrity
Of course, a certain amount of caution is advisable at the beginning of any potential relationship. Expressing undying love on a first date is the best way to destroy the possibility of a second date. However, after an appropriate amount of time getting to know someone, fear should evaporate. At least, if it is truly love you feel.
Any hesitation or reservation could also be “divine nudges” from the Holy Spirit. He may be warning against involvement with someone who would harm you, is not the right “fit,” or who is outside God’s plan for your life. This is where discernment and personal integrity come into play. Analyze your hesitation. Determine if it stems from a personal fear or unhealed wound or if it is a warning from God. If you have some healing or maturing to do, invest the time to do so. However, if you confirm it to be divine intervention, move on quickly and don’t look back.
Investing too Deeply too Early
This underscores the importance of not high diving in the shallow end of the pool. Don’t emotionally invest in someone until and unless you’ve gotten to know them well. Discover commonalities and compatibilities spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Avoid rushing in and hearing only “what the heart wants to hear.” Give differences the same attention as commonalities. That’s where you find the deal breakers. Not all differences are deal breakers. But they help identify your tolerance level for those differences. Some differences may be adaptable preferences while others are nonnegotiable convictions.
Once past this initial discovery and your relationship is progressing, remind yourself there is no fear in love. Perfect love has no fear. If you love someone, you dare to express it. You love even though you risk not having that love returned. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Countless times Moses encouraged Joshua to be bold and courageous. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
So what is holding you back today from loving and expressing your love fully? Are you doubtful of your partner? Doubtful of yourself? Maybe there’s an emotional pain not fully healed? Could it be you’re holding onto a past relationship instead of moving on with life? Maybe you’re projecting past mistakes onto new prospective dating partners and your lack of trust (and maybe bitterness) is chasing them away.
Scripture encourages us to do everything with boldness, great gusto, and no reserves or inhibitions. Yes, Jesus cautions us to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). But, after the initial diligence of discovery, and you confirm the feelings are mutual and reciprocal, turn it loose! Love fully, freely, and fearlessly! Love with reckless abandon! After all, nothing compares to loving and being loved fearlessly.