Feel Uncomfortable About Love?

When Love Scares You

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We might find it perplexing, frustrating or even embarrassing, but for all of us the unavoidable reality is that a basic feature of fear is that it is stubbornly resistant to rational thought. No matter how intelligent we are, fear bypasses our intellect and spreads from one disturbing experience to safe things that bear a superficial similarity.

There are different reasons for people feeling uneasy about love. I will address two basic ones. Zero in on whichever applies to you:

    1. You find yourself deeply scared by someone claiming to love you betraying your trust or abandoning you. More Ė see 1. below.

    2. Past horrors so torment you that your mind keeps involuntarily seeing love and being criminally abused as melded together like Siamese twins.  More

1. Abandoned/Betrayed

Given the fundamental nature of fear explained in the first paragraph above, it is perfectly understandable if deep hurts from being let down by people flood you with fear that God could similarly let you down.

Fears are just feelings. They donít have to ruin our lives. Many of us, however, consciously or unconsciously hold back from accepting the reality of Godís love because we fear we will get our hopes up, only to eventually end up being rejected by God. Behind this is the needless fear that God might be like fickle, fallible humans. It is as ridiculous as fearing the holy Lord might sexually abuse us. But fears donít have to be rational before they haunt us, and caving in to fear drastically erodes our quality of life.

A friend of mine had a beautiful relationship with God that most of us would envy, but instead of it being grounded on the bedrock of stubborn faith in God, it depended on feelings and dramatic encounters with God. Eventually, an unpleasant experience caused her to fear that God had left her, and her panic drowned out all ability to feel Godís presence or hear his voice. Instead of stabilizing by clinging to Godís vow that he would never to leave any of us, her panic grew even more as warm feelings failed to return despite desperately praying and fasting for signs that God was still with her. She never thought she was insulting God by asking him to prove to her that he is not a liar, but that was what she was doing.

For as long as our faith is not in Godís dependability and integrity but is tossed around by flimsy feelings, we are highly vulnerable to deception because although our spiritual enemy can never change the power of the cross or the character of God, the deceiver can easily tamper with our feelings.

You will not find the Bible saying we can coast along with a half-hearted attitude to him because eventually he will suddenly zap us with a revelation of his love. On the contrary, God in his Word keeps pleading with us to seek him and call upon him so that he will respond. Him drawing close to us is conditional upon us drawing close to him (James 4:8). This is so critical to truly knowing God that the Bible repeats it over and over. For some examples, see Keep Seeking God and Staying Open to Him.

Our Lord tolerates baby Christians putting their faith in feelings but eventually we must all grow up and learn to live by faith alone. For him to keep pampering us with feelings would keep us spiritually weak and vulnerable.

Not realizing this fundament spiritual truth, this dear woman suffered years of thinking God had abandoned her until finally she came to her senses and realized that God never leaves those who want him and that she had put herself through years of needless torment by not accepting this fact.

Everyoneís journey with God is unique but although some start off with a honeymoon with God, we all eventually hit obstacles that flood us with doubts and fears. It is then our choice whether we back off or rise to the challenge and heroically keep seeking and serving God regardless. For those who choose the last option, the rewards are immense.

Suffering fear is awful but giving into it is exceedingly worse. It is like surrendering our weapons to a ferocious but unarmed assailant, so that not only are we left defenseless but we have now armed our opponent. We need to push through our fears Ė to take back our weapons by reclaiming that truth that Godís love makes him totally faithful, no matter how torturous our fears.

    Hebrews 13:5  . . . for he has said, ďI will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.Ē

God never lies. A solitary statement from God is all it takes for it to be set in stone. Out of compassionate mindfulness of our weakness, however, the above Scripture is worded exceedingly strongly in the Greek. My version of the Amplified Bible renders it ď. . . [It will] not, [It will] not, [It will] not, in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake you, nor let you down . . .Ē It does this because the verse contains a triple negative.

Consider how much it cost our Lord to save us from hell. Having invested everything to save us, our rational and resolute Lord is not going to throw it all away when the going gets tough. If he went to inconceivable extremes while we were his enemies and wanted nothing to do with him, it is impossible that he would abandon us now that we want him as our friend.

The Gospels are adorned with the accounts of ordinary people (in fact, often despised people) who became spiritual heroes and won both Jesusí praise and eternal fame through refusing to be deterred by finding it frustratingly difficult to get Jesusís attention and/or even seeming to be ignored or spurned by him (for a brief but inspiring overview see Undeterred). Your devoted Lord yearns for your name to be added to this glorious Hall of Fame.

God asking us to magnify him is not so that he can boost his ego (how ludicrous that would be for the self-sufficient, omnipotent Lord!). Nor is it merely to deepen our love for him (as beneficial as that would be for us). It will deepen our awareness of his boundless love for us.

Expressing to God our love and praise and thanks cracks open the door of our heart. An opening allows not only sights and sounds to flow out but to flow in. The more we open up to God, the more open we are to his loving whispers, and, regardless of how much it irks us, itís a psychological fact that the more we praise God the more open to him we become.

More about Godís Love

Receiving a Personal Revelation of Godís Love for You

Staggering Bible Truths About Godís love, and How to Believe Them

2. Abused/Exploited

When many people speak of Ďloveí they are referring to things that turn Godís stomach. If they were honest they would speak not of love but of lust and/or exploitation. They shamefully pervert the word until it becomes the exact opposite of who God is. They are con artists who deceitfully use the word in an attempt to conceal their real intention, which is to take advantage of someone for their own selfish gain.

God is totally different. He is faithful. He respects you. He wants the very best for you. He is so selflessly devoted to your well-being that he would sacrifice everything for you Ė in fact, he already has. He feels for you so deeply that your long-term happiness is of supreme importance to him and your distress is like a knife to his heart. Though he is the exalted Lord, love makes him long to act as your servant. You mean everything to him.

If you have suffered tragedies that make you recoil from the word love, average people wonít understand, but God does.

Although there are things about us that bear similarities to God, they remain a pale shadow of our glorious Lord. Unlike us, he is pure and perfect in every way, with abilities that are mind-bogglingly greater than ours. We need to know, however, that what he has done for us through Christ means that he is not scary or unapproachable or standoffish or arrogant. The way he excels just makes him all the more wonderful and lovable and trustworthy.

The mere fact that we are finite renders it impossible for us to comprehend the enormity of the purity and warmth and depth of the Infinite Lordís feelings. Like trying to get our head around the size of the known universe, the greater our understanding, the more we realize how mind-boggling the task is, until we can only gasp in awe.

Our handicap of having finite minds is compounded still more by the mind-numbing effects of our sinful nature. This plagues us all but few of us are willing to admit how profoundly it affects us. If someone knew nothing about drugs, he would be no more inclined to inject heroin than have a needless tetanus shot. After a few times, however, a craving for more would forever be etched into his brain. So it is with sin. Every type of sin we have ever indulged in corrupts us with a yen for more that will, at least occasionally, hound us for the rest of our lives Ė even decades after having successfully broken the habit. As a consequence of having once developed a taste for sin, every human attempt at love is constantly being eroded by temptations to indulge in lust, envy, selfishness, laziness, unforgiveness and so on.

Yet another factor keeping us from grasping the full beauty of divine love is the distortions imposed on us by the sinfulness of people who have significantly shaped our feelings and expectations. Unless there is deliberate, radical and prolonged intervention later in oneís life, significant experiences during oneís formative years will keep gravely affecting each of us for the rest of our lives on a level so deep that it remains virtually untouched even by huge advances in our intellectual and biblical understanding.

For insight into how profoundly this affects our reaction to Godís love, consider our reaction to food. A single bout of food poisoning could, for the rest of our lives, cause us to recoil from whatever type of food we associate with that incident, even though it is something we would otherwise relish. Intellectually, we could be convinced that a particular batch of food is utterly safe and yet the mere thought of it could make us nauseous. And forcing ourselves to eat it could cause us to vomit. The problem is not the new batch of food but just one bad experience with something vaguely similar. It is not that it is impossible ever to recover, but regaining a love for that food would be a difficult route that many people would be unwilling to take. Similarly, most of us suffer at least one phobia that makes us back off from situations we would otherwise enjoy and that we rationally know are quite safe.

So it is with God and his love. Even though we intellectually want him, we can instinctively and uncontrollably shrink from him, keeping him at a distance Ė all because of a past experience, not with him but merely something vaguely similar. Almost invariably it is because of a significant human in our lives who failed to love as he/she should have.

As explained in You Can Find Love: What your Fantasies Reveal, nothing short of the perfection and infinity of divine love, backed up by the integrity and unlimited power of God, can totally satisfy our desperate need to be loved. Sadly, the biggest barrier to realizing the astonishing extent to which we are loved is that we keep expecting Godís perfect love to be almost as defective and inadequate as human love. Even the greatest love we can experience outside of God is riddled with imperfections and limitations that cast a disturbingly long shadow on our relationship with God. Even when we think we are finally free from an inadequate understanding of Godís love, we are likely to begin sliding back into muddy thinking in just a few days.

Some people were blessed with parents who were non-sexual with them and were continually warm, gentle, compassionate, supportive, faithful and forgiving. Such people are ideally placed to understand Godís love, not merely intellectually, but on an emotional and subconscious level. The sad reality, however, is that for many of us our backgrounds are a handicap rather than a help. Our presumptions about Godís love for us are alarmingly warped, both by our shallow understanding of God and by our observations and experiences of Ďloveí from other sources.

This issue is far bigger than merely reacting negatively about thinking of God as a father. Even the word love can cause some people to recoil despite the fact that, deep down, these people are desperate for the genuine article. And it might not be a parent, but someone else who has particularly damaged our emotional reaction to love. Those, who by stalking or worse, force themselves on people, are not acting in divine love. True love respects the boundaries a person sets, even when their limits crush the loverís heart. Unlike most humans, God is utterly trustworthy. The fruit of the Spirit (the very essence of who God is) is ďlove . . . self-controlĒ (Galatians 5:22-23).

Logically, if the all-powerful Lord were an abuser, keeping our distance from him would be no protection. Like no one else, however, the Almighty is worthy of infinite power because he will never abuse that power, but will use it for your good.

One of the ways in which our Lord differs from us, however, is that he is not sexual. Taking this to heart is especially important for people who suffered as children to the point where even the word love is distressing because perverts repeatedly used the word when they meant not love but sexual violation.

Jesus strongly disapproved of lust:

    Matthew 5:27-29 You have heard that it was said, ĎYou shall not commit adultery;í but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.

Remember that it was not in our sex-obsessed society that Jesus declared lust to be as depraved as adultery. He was speaking to people who regarded adultery as such a heinous crime that it incurred the death penalty (John 8:3-5).

Jesus was no hypocrite. Indeed, he alone has never sinned:

    John 8:46 Which of you convicts me of sin? . . .

    2 Corinthians 5:21 For him who knew no sin [Jesus] he made to be sin on our behalf; so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    Hebrews 7:26 For such a high priest [Jesus] was fitting for us: holy, guiltless, undefiled, separated from sinners . . .

    1 Peter 1:19  . . . as of a faultless and pure lamb, the blood of Christ

    1 Peter 2:22 who did not sin, ďneither was deceit found in his mouth.Ē

    1 John 3:5 You know that he was revealed to take away our sins, and in him is no sin.

The holy Son of God has never lusted. The Son of God is as sexually innocent as a newborn. Moreover, in heaven, where he is now enthroned, there is no sex.

Even for humans who are currently very sexual, their sex drive is temporary. It slowly rises from nothing as a baby to intense in their late teens and early twenties and then gradually fades until it completely disappears in the next life.

    Mark 12:25 For when they will rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

It is there, in that place where there is no sex, that the bodies of all deemed worthy of heaven will be like that of the eternal Son of God:

    1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So also is the resurrection of the dead. . . . It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. . . .

    1 Corinthians 15:49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. (NIV)

    Philippians 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory . . .

    1 John 3:2 . . . when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is.

One of the similarities between the bodies of people in heaven and that of our risen Lord is lack of sex drive. He has no sexual feelings.

As implied elsewhere in this series of webpages, an accurate intellectual understanding of Godís love will not magically change our emotional reaction. Itís an important starting point, however, from which one can start confidently pushing closer to God despite groundless but unpleasant feelings. In addition, one needs healing from past wounds, and I have devoted very many pages to this (see Healing from Sexual Abuse). Healing is facilitated, however, by becoming convinced of the purity of Godís motives and by drawing as close to God as we can.

More about Godís Love

Receiving a Personal Revelation of Godís Love for You

Staggering Bible Truths About Godís love, and How to Believe Them

Unless otherwise specified, the Bible version cited above is the Word English Bible. For those preferring the King James Version, it can be accessed by placing your mouse or equivalent over a Bible reference on-line.