Of Love, Trust, and Fear.

I do not trust people easily, and it has nearly always been a hindrance to me. For example, my writing, my art, and so forth, it isn’t written for me, not really, it’s written, as a gift, for humanity, for those around me, and though I pour out my heart and my soul, I do not do the one thing that actually is required of me, which is the sharing of it. What are fine words if I do not share them? Why? It is because I do not trust, and the sharing of these works of my hands and heart, is to be baring my soul. It is to stand before all, unmasked, and revealed to be as I truly am. No more, no less. What stands in my way is my lack of trust. This really is quite inexcusable, and part of the purpose of my doing this experiment with this blog is to open my heart, not only to those in my immediate vicinity, but to all. Only in so doing, will I find the freedom to express my work to those around me, though I confess, it is a bit unnerving to even attempt to reveal the thoughts of my mind and heart, especially, in a public setting, such as a blog that anyone may read.

Another thing I’ve noticed, and in many ways it goes hand in hand with my ‘trust issues’ is that I have a very difficult time getting around the fact that I do care what it is that people think of me, I want to be liked. And the fear of rejection is the ‘root fear’ if you will, of so many of my other fears that branch off of that particular shrub. I am always afraid to express what it is that I really think, because, if I do, in my mind, I will be rejected. This isn’t right, but it is present. There is a difference between something being present within me and it being something I want to be in me. I am tired of the fear of rejection, and the things I do to avoid it. In many ways I wear mask, one could even say, a different mask, for every person that I encounter. Nobody sees the real me, only the mask. This is not right either.

I’m not condemning myself, but I am acknowledging the fact that I am wearing a mask. I wonder what a world without masks would be like? I am sure I am not the only one who wears a mask to hide who it is that I truly am. I do it, everywhere I go, perhaps for fear of judgement, out of insecurity, or maybe because I simply want to be liked, and I know people are used to seeing the mask. If I was to take off the mask would they still like the man behind the mask? And this is the question that brings me back to the issue of trust.

I do not trust that they will. Even though I’d like to think that if those around me were to lay down their mask, I would love them all the more for their courage, their bravery, their confidence in accepting their own identity, their strength, their trust of me enough to let me see them as they are, I would love them all the more for it. Yet, I do not extend that toward others, I do not trust that deeply. I am convinced, wrongly, that I am a monster that lurks behind a mask of beauty, and when the mask is removed, people will flee in horror, and I will stand, desolate, alone, and afraid. It is a lack of trust, and it extends even unto God himself. I do not doubt his greatness. My greatest struggle in my faith is the goodness of God. I do not doubt his love, his justice, his greatness, or even his beauty. It is his goodness that I struggle with.

I know, I know, not everyone is trustworthy. But at what point does caution become a poison? Is it even my business to be concerned about what it is that people think of me? I don’t know

Fear, in my country, America, we live in a culture of it, at the present time, almost everything that takes place, takes place from a heart of fear. I’ve been watching my thoughts, and those around me, and I am astonished by how much we let fear dictate our lives, our decisions, everything. It is a cruel master, and we want it, we believe that our fear is our safety, when actually it is our fear that is destroying us. Safety, something of an illusion in itself, we seek it, to the point of madness. We won’t do anything we deem to be unsafe, even if we would be better off for it. We refuse to acknowledge the possibility that God is not safe, and in so doing, must have him in our box of what we deem to be a safe god. If he works outside the box, we do everything we can to try and put our idea of him back inside the box again. We’ve created a whole culture in our attempt to put God in our safety box.

This culture of fear works itself out in surprising ways, some of it almost amusing except that it is really quite tragic in how it works itself out. The number of men, for example, who are surprisingly threatened, by the cat. I mean, seriously. Thousands of men are so insecure and so terrified, that a creature full of confidence and grace, the cat, is considered to be a serious threat to them. Unfortunately, the fears that are the root of these insecurities are the same found in those who would abuse those around them. It may seem amusing that men fear cats, but it is this fear that also is at the root of men fearing anyone whom they perceive to be beneath them, or above them. At its root it isn’t about the cat, but about the ego, the perceived threat to the self, the worth of oneself. This fear of not being the center, always leads to the abuse of somebody. It is fear that fuels violence. Fear breeds more fear, and fear breeds violence, violence in turn breeds more fear, and the vicious cycle continues. It is safety that is being sought. The safety of the ego in this case. Our safety obsessed culture has made us anything but safe, and safety in itself really is more of an illusion than an actual reality. The solution of course, is not safety, but courage.

Courage, is in many ways, something that is manifested in the outworking of the virtuous, and it isn’t so different than acting from a heart of love. Perhaps this is why fear is cast out by perfect love, because love is the well from which courage is drawn, and from courage we act in virtuous ways. Fear, however binds us, and safety is but a fantasy, not something real. Courage however, transforms us, and those around us.

My fear, is the fear of others, what it is that they think of me. I must not fear what others think, but operate from a heart of love. In the learning of the loving of others, I should then find my heart is one filled with courage, and not one governed by fear, but a heart governed by love. It is so much better to be governed by love than by fear. Fear tells me to wear the mask, love says to not wear the mask.

My problem isn’t so much that I do not trust, it is that I am afraid. And why is it that I’m afraid, because I do not love. How do I love? By being loved. This is why it is so important to know that God loves us, and loves us with a perfect love. Because, in knowing that I am God’s beloved, I know what it is to be loved, and in knowing what it is to be loved, I cannot help but to love, and love will cast out the fears that bind me.

I need not fear, after all, it is true that I am loved by God, is it not? I need not fear anything.

Knowing that fear robs not only me, but those around me, it is part of why I consider fear to be one of my chief enemies. How can it be anything except an enemy? It is because of holding a heart full of fear that I distrust both God and humanity. It is because of a heart of fear that I refuse to be as I am, my lack of trust is born out of fear, and fear will destroy every good thing. It is not good that I am afraid.

It is a process, I think. But I am glad that I am becoming aware of the fact that I even have fears, and that it is these fears that are at the root of so many of the evils and corruptions I might see, in a strange way, knowing what the reason is, is a bit of a comfort to me. Not that I desire to be rid of these things any less for the understanding of them, in some ways, learning of them, increases my desire to see them removed.

I pray that I can see not fear, but love, courage, and a soundness of mind be the ruler of my decisions in the future.

  • This. This is a wonderful post. :)

    My thoughts about masks are still shaping themselves after reading this. I found the line from Forest Born to be really interesting: “I’m the sheen on water. I’m a looking-glass. I’m not real.” The character Rin reminds me of myself. I can’t always just be a looking-glass, reflecting what I think other people want to see. Too often, I’m wrong about what they want to see anyway.

    Is it even my business to be concerned about what it is that people think of me? — No, I don’t think it is. Their thoughts are their own, aren’t they? All you can do, is do your own best. If I had to worry about what every random person I talk to thought of me, I would go insane. It’s not reasonable to have to do that.

    I know what you mean by feeling like a monster that lurks behind a mask of beauty. For me it sometimes goes the other way too, feeling like a beauty wearing the face of a monster and unable to take it off.

    That safety is an illusion is something that I’ve thought for a long time. I am ultimately safe by trusting God regardless of what happens; humanly, I will never be safe by trying to trust in houses or gold or antilock brakes or whatever. The propensity of people to just worry and worry about things that can’t be helped bothers me. The way people hear about a school shooting and suddenly they’re filled with fear, for themselves and their loved ones, their fear leading them to take weapons to school and ultimately CAUSE more bad things to happen. Responding with fear helps nothing.

    I think people get mad when they feel like they’re in danger and want to blame someone or make someone pay. It drives people apart, when a loving attitude would bring them together.

    I love what you say about courage especially. Beautiful. :)

    Thank you for writing this. :)

    • Shane Deal

      I’m glad you found it to be wonderful! :-)

      Yes, yes, mask and mirrors. I suppose they both tell lies. One by concealing the truth, the other by telling a different version of it than what is really true.

      In some ways, it is that madness that brought me to this place, I have grown weary of feeling so stretched and conformed to others ideas, that I feel at times, that I have lost who it is that I am, that I’ve become so spread out in becoming all these different versions of me, that I don’t even remember who it is that I really am. Call it peer pressure, fear of man, the pecking order, masters and workers, whatever, its effects are the same, regardless of what we call it. What really matters is what God thinks of me, and what I think of myself in light of that. I might know what God thinks of me, but if I don’t believe it to be true, it will not be of any good.

      Oh, wow! I really love what you have to say about a beauty wearing the face of a monster. What a great picture of what it is that we do, and are. In referring to feeling like a monster beneath the mask of beauty, that was in regard to the self-perception. Which is nearly always wrong. I see this take place over and over and over again, beautiful, wonderful, human beings, beat themselves up, believing the lie that they really are a monster, and even if people say they are beautiful, they still believe themselves to be ugly. In our minds we condemn ourselves to this horrific cycle of defeat, if you will. We can’t even be set free when we hear the truth being spoken to us, because we believe we are only wearing a mask of beauty. This is what happens when we look in the mirror, and even though we are created in the image of God himself, who is, in my mind, the source from which we even get the concept of beauty to begin with, we think ourselves to be ugly. We know our every imperfection and hate ourselves for it. When we say we hate ourselves, we do so because we really, honestly, believe that beneath the perceived mask of beauty, the reality is that we are monsters underneath. Another word used to describe this concept would be condemnation, and if there is one thing we tend to be good at doing to ourselves, it is condemning ourselves. So we tell ourselves a number of lies to try and feed this image, for example, we tell ourselves that we are a mistake, that God could never love someone like us, and so forth. The truth is however, that we are in truth beautiful, loved, and precious in the sight of God. It is difficult for us to accept it, because we believe our beauty to be our mask, and that if God loves us, we certainly can’t be precious to him, it must be out of obligation because he’s God, and that’s just what he does. The truth is, we are beautiful, but our perception is that we are a monster. I keep coming back to the scripture about “the truth setting us free”. And, in so many ways, the truth is exactly what we need to set us free. As I look around, and I see people suffering under the lies they believe, I feel, I don’t know, grieved, perhaps, they don’t know how precious and beautiful they truly are, and I don’t know how to convey that to them, because in the mind any preciousness and beauty is the mask. I feel grieved, at a loss, and so forth. Perhaps this is why I must love those around me, because how else can I convey to them what the heart of God is towards them unless I, for lack of better term, personify, the heart of God towards them. I suppose, that is what I seek, in becoming a little more vulnerable, by opening my heart up to those around me, and in so doing, allowing myself to love, which is something that does tend to take some vulnerability to do. I’m not there yet, but I am thankful, that I’m beginning to realize, that truth about what I am in the sight of God, frees me to be candor about who I am in his sight, to be vulnerable in that, and from that to love. Even in responding to your comment here, I’m learning a better understanding of all this, thank you for inspiring that with your comments! As for taking off the mask of the monster, I suppose, that is what I mean, about how it is that God views us compared to how it is that we see ourselves. I hope that makes sense.

      Yes, it is the trusting of God that we are ultimately safe. Here is the thing, God is safe, because he has made himself our refuge. It is a willful place of safety on his part that he is safe. Is God inherently safe? I would think not, only because of his being God, how can he be anything even closely resembling safety, unless he desires to be? This is a comfort to me, that one who doesn’t have any particular reason, other than a heart of love, to be a place of safety to his own created beings, reveals, not only a heart of great love, but also the goodness of God. We can trust him, because he has chosen to be trustworthy, if you will. I love how, for lack of better term, ‘to the point’ God really is. He wears no mask, if you will, he is what he is. He isn’t safe because he’s inherently safe, he’s safe because desires to be that. I like that God chooses to be our refuge, and that I can trust him, including that he knows what it is that he is, he won’t be changing his mind on the matter. I’m not only safe at present, but forevermore. This is a comfort to me. If God was inherently safe, I do not know if I could find that as comforting, but because he has chosen it, means that he’s considered every possible possibility, and then says that he is our refuge. I can have more comfort in that, than if he was safe inherently, if that makes sense. And yes, the fear-breeding-fear effect, it is something that I am a little concerned about. Ultimately, how we approach these questions now, may well make all the difference between life and death for people in the future, I believe we should respond in love, and then perhaps, maybe, the root of these things, fears and insecurities and such, might have their grip lessoned, and in the outworking of that, lives may go on where they would not have. I understand the desire to protect those whom we love, but the question must also be asked, is fear the best way in which to accomplish that? Presently, it may spur people to action, but as it plays out, it might bring about twice the destruction upon the very people whom we were trying to protect to begin with. What is more, as the environment of fear develops so do the mistakes. We become too quick to strike with our weapons, and in the perception of foes, we destroy our friends. Fear clouds our judgement, and we lose our ability to judge between that which is good, and that which is not. My guess would be that fear gives us the illusion of control over situations in which we really have no control over. It is a sneaky little tactic really. In exchange for being afraid, we get an illusion, not actual, but an illusionary control over that which we are afraid of. But it is a lying illusion, and not the truth.

      People do get mad when they feel they’re in danger. It is one of the driving forces of war and things of that nature, people feel threatened, and grow afraid, so they lash out. It is a survival thing I think. I seem to remember it being true that animals tend to lash out if they are cornered. People are the same way, yet in some ways our ability to stop and think about it is a hindrance to us. We don’t just lash out, we let it stew for awhile, until the bitterness that results from the delay ends up destroying us much more than it hurts the one we were lashing out at to begin with. This is also an asset, because it gives us the time to break the bitterness, but left unchecked, it hurts everyone involved.

      Courage, is something I’ve valued for awhile, one of the gifts that the Harry Potter books have given me, was an appreciation for courage. It was something that was reenforced upon reading other books as well, a result of the desire that my love of fantasy has given to me I think. I may not have the ability to fly, or have a magic sword, but I can be courageous. I’m glad you liked what I had to say and found it beautiful.

      You’re welcome, and thank you for your own comment, I found it very insightful. :-)