“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
– 1 John 4:18
I’m not even talking about arm balances and turning yourself upside down in advanced yoga poses, because before all of that, most of us probably had to take a pretty brave step the first time we stepped onto our yoga mat. I still remember the first time I stepped into a yoga studio; how scary that was for me. I was scared of making a fool of myself, not knowing any poses that I had to do in class – and a bunch of other thoughts just flooded my mind. Why?
I started to look into the thought processes behind the feelings of “fear”. I came to the conclusion that fear is an emotion, not a fact – we aren’t born with it, but we are accustomed to it. In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says that "God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." So, it is clear that fear is learned over time.
A Newspoll survey has found a quarter of people fear public speaking more than fearing death. How crazy is that? What exactly is it that people fear about public speaking so much? Upon deeper observation and research into this particular subject, I found that the emotion springs from the fear of being judged, fear of not meeting expectations, fear of making mistakes and the fear of looking bad. Essentially, all these point to a fear of our image being tarnished. It is shocking that so many people fear their image being tarnished more than they fear death. If only we cared less about how much people viewed us!
So I entered my first yoga class nervously. I step onto my mat and class starts. All the advanced yogis were in the front row and seeing them practice made me even more nervous and feelings of inadequacy flooded my mind. “Everyone is going to see me do it all wrong, how embarrassing.” After my class, I had mixed emotions of loving the practice and how it made me feel physically and emotionally yet on the other hand, every time I saw those advanced yogis I felt like I didn’t belong. Fear was driving me away from a practice that I felt beneficial to my wellbeing.
How did I overcome this? Self love. I realised that loving my body and looking after it was more important than what others thought of me (That’s if they even at all! Because I probably made up all of their potential comments about me in my own head). I learned that love always trumps fear. This lesson I learned has been integrated into all areas of my life.
For example, I used to be terrified of giving people feedback and constructive criticism because I didn’t want to offend anyone. I was afraid of others thinking poorly of me.
Now? I’ve learned that, yes - it’s hard to receive criticism. But it’s harder to give it. It takes courage. And you really need to love that person enough to give them the criticism because you care about their growth more than what they think of you. So next time you are afraid to do something, sprinkle a bit of love and take a bold step!
How has God spoken to you through today's verse? Are there areas in your life consumed by fear? Spend some time in meditation and prayer as you let the Spirit speak to you on areas you need to approach with love.
With Grace and Strength,