Slowly, I am learning the secret of overcoming fear. In my youth I was taught to fear God and keep his commandments. If I didn’t, I would surely die and go to hell. I was also taught to fear the evil in the world and to shun the darkness. Later I learned to fear political enemies — which was often problematic because they changed from time to time. Those who were once our enemies could also become our friends, or at least our allies.
I was a strange, quirky teenager who didn’t curse, go to movies, wouldn’t think of drinking, doing drugs, or having premarital sex. I was a Bible-carrying, holier-than-thou “freak” (he said with a bit of tongue-in-cheek). As a result of this unusual lifestyle, I experienced a lot of fear — from parents, church, ministers, the world, but mostly from myself.
For me, the answer to my fears was when I discovered that I was not to fear God, but to love God because God loved me. The answer to my fears was to love. If I had lived my teenage years with all those “quirks” but had understood and lived a life devoted to loving God, others, and myself, I could have lived a life void of fear. Fear and love cannot coexist within our hearts.
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