Sunday, 4 September 2016

Fear & Love

I recently found myself lost in a local forest and I loved it!  An hour of climbing over fallen trees, ducking under low-lying branches and being sporadically poked by stinging nettles.  Unfortunately, with tingling skin and sweat on my brow, I decided to incorporate some modern technology.  Out came the iPhone and Goolge Maps was quickly consulted.  If I didn't need to be somewhere else within the hour, I would have played all day.

Whilst in the forest, I felt a sense a freedom, one which I haven't experienced since childhood.  I ran, I walked, I ducked, I climbed.  I was that very character which John Eldredge describes in his 2001 book, Wild at Heart.  Strangely, in my solitude, came a real sense of belonging.  At that time, in that moment, I was exactly where I wanted to be; in fact, I was exactly where I needed to be.  The words LOVE and FEAR kept playing over and over in my mind.  There was an element of danger in what I was doing, and the more fear whispered hints of caution into my conscious mind, the more I loved it.  A pretty feeble rush for those who find pleasure and leisure in extreme sports, but it was more than just a "rush", it was exhilarating and refreshing.

Many years ago, one of my oldest and most dearest friends, (let's call him Sean because that is actually his real name - insert smiley emojicon here!), said to me that the only two real emotions are love and fear.  I cannot remember the context of the conversation, and in all honesty, this type of conversation was not the norm - we never spent hours engaging in philosophical debates, it was always as simple as some girl he or I liked and whether she had smiled at us at school that day - but I somehow remember that it was Sean who said it and at the time I was studying my undergraduate in Psychology.  

I guess this idea has been swirling in my head ever since.  At the time I wanted to prove this notion false given that I was studying human behaviour after all.  One element in all of this which kept reoccurring, was that no matter how hard I tried, I continued to draw the same conclusion; I always came back to the same outcome - at the root of every emotion lies love and fear.

That was 18 years ago and there I was, 18 years later, lost in a forest, reciting the two words over and over again.

Is it really true that we are almost always driven by either fear or love?  I want to achieve something with my life, but fear tells me I'm not smart enough, good looking enough, brave enough, strong enough...and so apathy sets in and mediocrity becomes my mundane reality (thanks FEAR!!).  Or how about passion?  I love doing this or that and so I am driven to discover more, learn more, engage more (thanks LOVE).  

Racism, hatred, ethnocentrism, apathy, disinterest, loneliness, lethargy, stoicism, etc, etc, etc - FEAR FEAR FEAR!

Passion, wonder, exploration, interest, kindness, joy, discovery, etc, etc, etc - LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I am so hard pressed to find Sean wrong.  Eighteen years of studying people and their emotions, eighteen years of engaging, discovering, learning, asking, telling, advising, being advised, counselling and being counselled, and all I can come up with is LOVE and FEAR.  And you know what?  That's fine!  I like it like fact, I love it like that.

Fear cripples me whilst love drives me forward.  Fear restricts me whilst love lends a hand at discovery.

Bringing a child into this world is both utterly terrifying and with it, so wonderfully joyous.  We react our of fear.  Fear of what they will turn out to be.  Fear of whether we are doing right by them.  Fear of failing.  Fear of falling short.  Fear of not meeting expectations as a parent.  And underneath all that fear, thankfully, lies love.  We are terrified because we love.  We are concerned because we love. We want to do right because we love.  We don't want to fall short because we love.  We want to meet expectations because we love.

Fear can drive love but it can also cripple.  The beauty in this, is that we have a choice.



  1. I think Sean is right. Sometimes it's harder to identify the emotions as such but ultimately if you boil it down, it is indeed fear and love.

    1. Like me, you seem hard pressed to prove otherwise :) thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment Larry.

  2. Hey–This reminds me of what Martin Prechtel says about praise and grief in his book The smell of rain on dust (I really recommend it if you're not familiar with it). Like fear and love as a dad, praise for what we love is aligned with the eventual loss of what we love. For me recently this has been the loss of the early years with my boys as they grow into a different life stage. Opening to both those feelings can be painful, but acknowledging the necessecity of them is a practice of awakened fathering. There is a continuous letting go to create space for a renewed welcoming.

    1. Hi there Miki
      Thanks so much for reading my latest post. I couldn't agree more and really well's almost like the fear of letting go of one stage, but then when you enter the next stage of their development, you love it and that stage becomes your favorite. I haven't heard of the book you mentioned, but I'll defiantly check it out. Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment. Please share on social media if you think the article warrants an audience.


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