Love Or Fear?

Published by Nadine McGowan on

I was married for 29 years.  My husband and I were officially divorced a year ago October.  However, I have been separated for a total of 3 years.  I have been blessed with two beautiful children.  Both in their 20’s now.  I was a stay at home mom and my children’s father was a very hardworking and successful man.  At 59 years of age I am  having to rediscover myself and redefine my life’s purpose.  There have been disappointments (not unique to me) and painful struggles, but there have been many blessings and plenty to rejoice about.  I am learning to connect to my true self and who God created me to be.  It has been an awakening and pruning period.  I am learning to live in God’s gift of freedom.  It is a journey and not a destination.  I am sure I will not be free until I am with God, but I do believe there is a lot of freedom to be enjoyed here in this life.  God’s greatest give to us Grace and Love. This is part of my journey. 

Dear ones, we are slaves to other people’s opinions, fear of failure, being used-even by God, wanting what we don’t have, the past, the future and difficult circumstances, I know I have struggled with all of the above.  It is a daily battle to renew my mind on who God’s says I am and how to live in His freedom.

A lot of people ask the question, “does grace mean we can sin and still be loved by God”.   

I would argue that because of Grace we will actually sin less.  Some people think it is a license to sin since His love is unconditional.  Truth is we sin less because of Love.  When we understand that we cannot earn God’s love, that it is a free gift, we want to do better and not sin.  Our heart is in the right place. I believe, we sin out of Fear.   When we operate out of fear, we will sin more.  The more we believe we need to strive for perfection to earn God’s love , the more our lives unravel in other areas.   

An example of being a slave to performance/perfection lie was and still is my mom on the holidays.  She always worked herself to death. She  cooked, baked, decorated and sewed until she was so exhausted.  Honestly, it was great, but by the time the holiday came she was exhausted and would sin against us by being demanding, angry and not at all fun!   She was a slave to performance.  I believe, she did all that because she thought she needed to to receive love.  She was operating out of fear not love. She didn’t realize we would love her not matter what she did.  It would have been more pleasant if she did half of what she did and was not exhausted.  

A simple example, a husband that believes he has to do a perfect job at work or he is not good enough or deserve love, then he comes home exhausted and stressed causing him to sin against his family.    

Let me bring it home for you.  Here’s an example in my own life.  When my marriage fell apart due to adultery, I constantly asked myself what could I have done differently to make my husband love me more.  What did I do wrong?  Even worse, I thought was God disappointed in me.  Did I fail God?  Most of my marriage, my energy was focused on keeping my husband committed to me.  As if my performance and doing everything perfectly would make my marriage work.  Early on in my marriage, he complained a lot about things not being picked up (and believe me it was picked up most of the time) which caused me to run around like a crazy woman cleaning up so everything would be perfect for his arrival home so he would not be angry with me.   

After some counseling, I realized I was behaving out of fear and not love.  Why did he get so upset with me?  He was exhausted from the demands of performance and perfectionism at work.  By the time he came home, he was grumpy and stressed.  Causing him to transfer his need for perfectionism onto me  This fear caused us both to sin.  When I had a shift in my thinking, I realized that I want to have the house picked up because of love.  I was free to do it when it didn’t cause me stress, I.e., had a bad day, was sick, sick kids or just too busy with other life demands.  It didn’t stop me wanting to give my husband my best, but my motive now was love not fear.

My marriage didn’t end because of any one thing I did or didn’t do.  It ended, because I realized God loves me whether I stay or go.  I was free to love myself and my husband enough to let go.  True love says go and be happy.  Now does that mean we all run out and get divorced because we don’t get our way or we are just not feeling it anymore?  No!  But, it does mean that when a person’s actions are abusive emotionally, physically or spiritually, then I believe that true love releases you and that person from the prison of performance.   Because God knows my heart and loves me no matter what.   That was a huge hurdle for me to get over when deciding to leave my husband.  That God was not disappointed in me or loved me any less,   I am sure it grieved Him as it grieved me.  In fact, the the fear of being seen as a failure by others and God kept me in a dysfunctional situation that was never going to get better. The fear of not looking perfect by others or the opinion of others was more important and kept me in a prison.  

So, here is an example of love.  Love invites your husband to Thanksgiving dinner one year after your divorce is finalized.  I will always love my husband.  Not the kind of love that wants to be married to him, but the kind of love that loves no matter his performance.  

What is keeping you from freedom of performance and perfectionism?  Do you behave out of fear or love?  Do you realize that you cannot earn God’s love?  Do you know it is a free gift?  If you really know that in your spirit, you are free to do for other’s out of love and not fear. End result is, because of love, you will actually sin less not more.


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