Can There Really Be A Balance Between Love, Trust, And Fear?

Many Christians tend to believe that there should be a balance between love and fear when it comes to our relationship with God. They also believe that their children should have a “healthy fear” of them. Punitive parents tend to confuse fear with respect.

Is it truly possible to have a balance between fear/terror, love, and trust?  How can we truly trust someone that we are afraid of?

Let’s look at the definitions of fear/terror, love, respect, and trust.

Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”  Terror is defined as “intense, sharp, overmastering fear.”

Dictionary.com defines trust as “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

Dictionary.com defined respect as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability; to hold in esteem or honor.”

Finally, dictionary.com defines love as “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person: a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.”

As we can clearly see, fear, trust, love, and respect have absolutely nothing to do with each other. What I find even more interesting is that the definition for fear contains the words “evil” and “pain” whereas trust, love, and respect do not.

This makes sense because fear is not from God as 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

It makes me wonder why so many Christians believe that fear and respect are one and the same.  They’ll claim that their children “respect” them when, in reality, it’s fear because children know that they’ll get punished for not obeying. Fear makes children behave out of self-preservation, not because they want to please us or trust us.

Respect and trust allows children to cooperate with us because they love, trust, and respect us. Often times these children will surprise us by spontaneously doing something nice for us because they find pleasure in helping us. They know we respect them and always have their best interests at heart. They also know that we won’t intentionally hurt them when they displease us.

While we can love a parent that we don’t trust or respect, it’s a weird love. My dad physically, emotionally, and verbally abused me throughout my childhood. Yes, I loved him, but I was often afraid to be with him. I felt like I had to be a certain way in order not to be hurt by him. I didn’t look forward to seeing him. But, because he was my dad, I did love him. He died in 2003 and I still struggle because I can’t remember him as a good guy.

My mom, on the other hand, is someone I can look forward to being with when we visit. I love, trust, and respect her. Sure, we’ve had our issues but I’m not (never was) afraid of her.

The same goes for my husband and friends. Then there’s God. I am not afraid of God. I know He will never hurt me. I struggle sometimes with trusting Him due to how I was raised and my brain wiring due to being abused.  If I was “terrified” of God, I could not have a personal relationship with Him.

I do NOT believe there can be a “healthy balance” between love and terror when it comes to our relationships with God. That just isn’t possible. How can we totally trust and rely on Him if we are terrified of Him in some way?

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Yes, the Bible does tell us to fear God.  Yirat Adonai is Hebrew for the fear of the LORD.  Terror, being scared, being afraid of God is not what this Hebrew term means. Rather, to “fear God” means to be reverent, in awe, and worship Him. It also means to take Him at His Word.  God does not want us to be afraid of Him. In fact, over & over in the Bible God tells His people NOT to be afraid of Him.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:15-18).

Even Christ said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:27-28).

Again, I must ask if we are to be scared or afraid of our loving, merciful God, then what kind of personal relationship is that with Him?  I run AWAY from things and people I’m afraid of, and yet, God wants us to run TO Him!

May we, as Christians and as parents, let go of this twisted church doctrine that claims that fear/terror must be a part of our relationships with God and our children. That is a lie from satan who wants to do everything in his power to hinder love, trust, and respect in our relationships with God and our children. This lie may even prevent some from coming to know Christ’s amazing saving grace!

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Why Back Talk is a GOOD Thing!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jennifer McGrail’s post, “Six Things My Kids Are Allowed to Say to Adults.”  Her post was in response to an article called “6 Things My Kids Aren’t Allowed to Say to Adults.” One of the sayings was “I don’t want to.” The original article tried to say that obedience to authority and God should be immediate.

Well, as Jen beautifully states in her article, we adults say “I don’t want to” all the time. In fact, I’ve said that many times throughout my adulthood. I’ve felt like a child at times when life gets hard, and have told God, “I don’t want to” throughout some painful stuff. Not once has God corrected or convicted me for telling Him, “I don’t want to.” Rather, He validates me, comforts me, asks me to trust Him, and is right here with me when I must do things I really don’t want to do. Shouldn’t we do the same for our children?

Another thing the original article said that children shouldn’t be allowed to say is “No.” This is so dangerous. If we don’t allow children to say no to us, how will they ever feel comfortable saying no to someone who tells them to do something bad? The majority of sexual abuse cases happen with a familiar adult. Also, children need to know how to say no to their peers. And yes, God allows us to say “no” to Him and argue with Him. Check out the story of Moses. And in Matthew 21:28-32, the son who said “no” ended up obeying.

It’s important for us to allow children to back talk so that they learn how to respectfully argue their case. If they never complain, voice concerns, and even point out when we are being unfair, they’ll get trapped in bad situations and they’ll be fake. Nobody is always happy! Even Jesus complained. The only time we shouldn’t complain is when we are serving others.

Children are human beings with real feelings. They are shy sometimes. We shouldn’t force them to talk to strangers at church. We shouldn’t get mad when they say, “Hang on” after we ask them to do something. After all, we do this to them all the time! If they don’t like something, let them express that.

Our job is to teach them how to respectfully back talk. They need to learn that it’s ok to argue, but not call names, not whine, not insult, and to realize that they may still have to do what they don’t want to do. If they mess up and say something disrespectful, tell them they need to try again because they may not talk to you that way. Do overs allow the child to calm down and say it more respectfully.

Of course, toddlers need us to give them appropriate words since their vocabulary is limited. A toddler that doesn’t want to leave the park and cries can be told, “I know you’re sad about leaving the park. You wish you could play longer.” Modeling respectful arguments and validating a child’s feelings will ultimately teach children how to respectfully back talk.

One final good thing about back talk is that it means children are thinking for themselves. We need critical thinkers, not robots! God would have created robots if that’s what He truly wanted. Instead, He gave us the ability to think for ourselves and ask questions. He wants a relationship with us and sometimes that means we complain and back talk to Him. He knows this is human nature and loves us for it. Let’s teach our children we will do the same for them!

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