Don't Fear Deeper Friendships
By Rick Warren
— May 21, 2014
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).
When we’re full of fear and anxiety, we don’t get close to each other. We back off from each other. We’re afraid of being rejected, manipulated, vulnerable, hurt, or used. All of these fears cause us to disconnect in life.
This fear is as old as humanity. When Adam and Eve sinned, and God came looking for them, Adam said, “I was afraid . . . so I hid” (Genesis 3:10 NIV). People have been doing that ever since. We’re afraid, so we hide. We hide our true selves.
We don’t let people know what we’re really like. We don’t let them see the inside of us. Why? Because if we let people know what we’re like and they don’t like it; we’re up a creek without a paddle. Tough luck. Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? Because if I tell you who I am, and you don’t like me, I’m in for it. I have no alternative. So we wear masks and we pretend.
Fear does three terrible things to relationships:
1. Fear makes us defensive. We’re afraid to reveal ourselves. We defend ourselves. When people point out our weaknesses, we retaliate and defend ourselves.
2. Fear keeps us distant. We don’t let people get close to us. We want to withdraw, pull back. We want to hide our emotions. We don’t want to be open and honest. We become defensive and distant.
3. Fear makes us demanding. Whenever we’re insecure, and the more insecure we are, the more we try to control. So we try to have the last word in a relationship. We try to dominate, control. It’s always a symptom of fear and insecurity.
Where do you get the confidence, the courage, to take the first step in connecting with someone, to go into a deeper intimacy? Where do you get that courage?
You get it from God’s Spirit in your life. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people but to be wise and strong (courageous), and to love them and enjoy being with them” (LB).
How do you know when you’re filled with God’s Spirit? You’re more courageous in your relationships. You love people. You enjoy being with them. You’re not afraid of them because God’s Spirit is in your life. The Bible says “God is love,” and “Love casts out all fear.” The more of God you have in your life, the less of fear you’re going to have in your life.
So the starting point in connecting with anybody is to pause, pray, and say, “God, give me the courage to take the first step.” You need to do that now with a person you want to connect with.
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