A friend asked the other day "Isn't it strange how everything we did pre-gospel understanding was motivated from fear? Even the brave risks we took--all deeply seeded in fear?"

I've been thinking about it for days now.

How even my dreams, at the root, are there because I'm afraid I'll never amount to anything, never do anything worthwhile with my life. Even the very best parts of me are still rooted in a fear of sorts.

The thing that's changing me (although slowly) is a right understanding of God's character, but I'll be honest: it's still so hard.

I say to a friend last night: I'm so good at being [this one thing], and I have such a slew of messups behind me in this opposite area. Wouldn't it be better to just go with the former, the things I'm good at doing, the thing at which I excel and impress?

But even in that I hear the fear quivering in my voice. The fear that I'll be what Paul talks about in Romans 1: given over to the deceitfulness of my mind. Left to indulge in the flesh, the places where I'm good, where I excel, where people are impressed with me. What if that is God's discipline to me?

See the fear?

It's palpable.

Perfect love casts out fear and, I'll be honest, my understanding of love has grown immeasurably this year, and is still so absent it hurts. It seems that the more I'm aware of the perfect love, the more I believe that I don't have it and it's not toward me. I want to say that this is normal in faith, that the closer we are drawn to the Father, the more aware we are of our blights and bruises.

But I don't know.

(Another fear.)

I don't know if someday, when this is finished, when heaven hits earth and redeems it in one full, swift motion, I don't know if that's when we feel done, finished. I don't know if that's the perfect love that John was talking about.

Or if, here, right now, in the middle of this beautiful, aching, living mess, we feel it too.

(Matt spoke about doubt this past weekend at my church.
It reached deeply in me. Give it a listen if you struggle with doubt too.
Or you know someone who does.)