Lorri Dudley

Be moved. Be changed. Love because you are loved.

Tag: freedom

Man cringing

Fear – Keeping Your Wits When Your Brain’s not Being Rational

Comic drawing of a man cringing in fear

I have an irrational fear of spiders. Before my brain can rationalize that I’m ten times bigger than the hideous, eight-legged, creepy-crawly, I’m screaming as if I’d seen the boogieman. I can’t run because if I take my eyes off the spider, it could disappear. So I track its jiggly movements, yelling for my husband to get over here and kill it.

Tarantula

Someone thought a great gift would be a remote-control tarantula for my boys. My oldest child camouflaged the spider on my black office chair. I pulled out my seat, and the motion swayed the tarantula’s legs in the eerie pattern spiders move. I belted out a scream that could shatter window panes, and in my haste to run, I tripped over my husband’s office chair. I swear there were claw marks in the carpet as I scrambled to evade the hideous monster about to jump on me and suck my blood. The boys got a good laugh.

Fear wipes out common sense.

It sends us into a panic where we’ll do unreasonable things. It also tricks us into trying to create a safe environment, shutting out people, potential, and opportunities. Our world becomes smaller, and we soon become an inmate in a prison of our making.

Fear consumes a person, keeping us from seeing the truth.

“Fear not” or “do not be afraid” is mentioned in the Bible roughly 365 times. That’s one for every day of the year. Why would God need to tell us not to be afraid so many times? I believe it’s because when we let fear rule us, we lose our ability to reason. It takes a lot more rational to get through to us, but God will go to great lengths, even repeating it 365 times if that’s what it takes.

Fear shouldn’t rule us.

2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind.” Fear isn’t a part of us. We’re not stuck with it. We have the ability to live free from its chains.

Hand fear an eviction notice.  

1 John 4:4 says, “the One Who lives in you is stronger than the one who is in the world.” God is greater than any evil in this world. We must renounce fear and hand it over to God. This sounds easy, except for the control element. We’ll often hold onto our distress because we don’t want to relinquish control. We start the litany of what-ifs. What if we hit a recession? What if my son or daughter needs me? What if I make a fool of myself? What if the spider pounces…? We choose to hold tight what little control we have over the situation, instead of giving our fear to God.

Put fear into perspective

Psalm 116:8 “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Are we worried about what people will think or about how people will react? Is people-pleasing more important to us than God’s approval? If we are doing God’s will, then our fears don’t stand a chance, but we must remain calm so we can see clearly. Most of the time, the things we worry about don’t even come to fruition.

Please note: I write all this as a work in progress. Here’s an update on my spider progress – My husband will attest to me being able to see a spider and hold in my scream. I’ve even killed a few on my own.

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Stone art people passing a Valentine

Love Because You Are Loved

Stone art made to look like people passing a Valentine

If you hang up the phone first, then you’re in control of the relationship. I don’t know why I thought this when I first started dating. My husband and I met over summer break during college and continued to date after I went back to school five hours away. Somehow, irrationally, I got it in my head that I could protect my heart from rejection if I could be the first one to say goodnight and get off the phone. The problem was he beat me to it every time. As soon as I’d pause and say “It was good talking—” he’d jump in with, “Yeah, miss you. Talk to you soon,” and then he’d hang up.

I’d stare at the phone gritting my teeth, torn between astonishment and outrage. Anger is often a coverup for a deeper fear—which in my case was rejection. We dated long-distance for two years. In all that time, I never was able to get off the phone before him. But he continued to call and, over time, his love and devotion allayed my fears. Now, I realize just how silly I had been.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18). In my manuscripts, all of my heroines start with a fear:

  • the fear of not being good enough,
  • the fear of not being loved,
  • the fear of rejection,
  • the fear of their past defining their future,
  • the fear of lacking purpose.

We all can relate to these fears in some way because they are real-life struggles. How many of us ever …?

  • Checked our phone wondering if he or she will call you back?
  • Pushed a proposal across the table praying it will be considered?
  • Walked into the class reunion dressed to impress, hoping they won’t remember you as the dorky, shy, or strange kid from third period?

There are a hundred other scenarios. With my stories, somewhere around the midpoint to the last third, the heroine realizes she is loved. It gives her the confidence to drive out fear and leads to the happily-ever-after.

girl dressed as a princess in front of a play castle

Happily-ever-after isn’t just for fairy tales.

My husband says I won’t argue with anyone except for him, and he’s right. I like conflict in my story characters’ lives not in my own. So why would I argue with my husband? Because he loves me. His love has driven out my fear of conflict. I can argue with him knowing he’ll still love me. Most people might not find that romantic, but I do. I love my husband all the more because I have the security to speak my mind.

It is this kind of love that sets us free, not a box of chocolates, nor a bouquet of flowers (even though those are very thoughtful and much appreciated). But love is even bigger than that. We live in freedom without fear because God loves us. His love has removed the sting of death and the guilt of sin. We have confidence in the day of judgment because of Jesus’ sacrifice and his love for us. When we understand the depths of God’s love, fear shrinks back and looses it grip.

His love is so overwhelming, it fills to the brim, overflowing. Not only do we have plenty of love to give away, but we also have the confidence to do so. You’ll see Love Because You Are Loved on my website and in my emails as my tagline. It stems from 1 John 4:18 “Perfect love drives out fear,” and 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” Because we know he has our best interest a heart, God’s love helps us relinquish the struggle for control. His love gives us freedom from fear and the courage to love one another.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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So, go ahead and love because you are loved!

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