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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Make room for love

And let go of fear

Love energizes us. In its purest form, love is unconditional, alive, and full of joy and celebration. So what keeps us from knowing that love?

Recently I've spent a great deal of time realizing the paralyzing power of fear. We act out of fear; we fail to grab opportunities out of fear. Especially since Sept. 11, our country has seen the tragedy that fear of the unknown can bring. Fearful of what we don't understand, we feel we can exact revenge on those who don't understand who we are. Fear drives panic, hatred and judgment. We have a strong emotional response to those who have wronged us, based only on fear and a need for retribution.

But is this the response we are called to have?

Fear pervades our culture, in ways both global and regional. But it also affects us personally. Are we not sometimes afraid to tell people how much we love them for fear of rejection? Perhaps we're afraid that another has heard untruths about us. Instead of reaching out to that individual, we're paralyzed. Afraid of being hurt, we don't risk being vulnerable. So we mark time — not living fully. We live, stymied by assumptions and controlled by irrational thoughts of fearful scenarios we are convinced will come true.

How then can we let go of fear — fear of rejection, of intrusion, of the unknown? Are we not called to embrace the power of love that is capable of displacing this fear from our lives? Love doesn't understand fear — there is no room for its co-existence within our hearts. When we approach life from that place inside us that is born of God's love, we in turn love for its own sake. We do so not to seek a response or to meet someone's expectation of us.

Only by God's grace are we permitted to experience the wonder and magnificence of hearts filled with love, displacing the fear and unrest that monopolize our lives. Once we surrender to this divine plan, we can start to love others in the way that we ourselves are loved by the One who is Love. Our perspective begins to change, and even those who have wronged us are given a second chance at our outpouring of compassion, of the love we are meant to give freely, to all.


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