Don't Let Fear Keep You from Deepening Friendships
“God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV).
When we’re full of fear and anxiety, we don’t get close to others. We back off from the people around us. We’re afraid of being rejected, manipulated, vulnerable, hurt, or used. All of these fears cause us to disconnect in life.
This fear is as old as humanity. When Adam and Eve sinned, and God came looking for them, Adam said, “I was afraid and I hid.” People have been doing that since. We’re afraid, so we hide. We hide our true selves.
We don’t let people know what we’re really like. We don’t let them see inside of us. Why? Because if we let people know what we’re like and they don’t like it, we’re up a creek without a paddle. Tough luck. Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? Because if I tell you who I am but you don’t like me, then I have to deal with rejection and disappointment. So we wear masks and we pretend.
Fear does three terrible things to relationships.
Our fears make us defensive. We’re afraid to reveal ourselves, so we defend ourselves. When people point out our weaknesses, we retaliate and shift into defense mode.
Our fears keep us distant. We don’t let people get close to us. We want to withdraw, pull back. We want to hide our emotions. We don’t want to be open and honest. We become defensive and distant.
Our fears make us demanding. Whenever we’re insecure, and the more insecure we are, the more we try to control. So we try to have the last word in a relationship. We try to dominate, control. It’s always a symptom of fear and insecurity.
Where can you get the confidence and courage of taking the first step in connecting with someone, to go into a deeper intimacy?
You get it from God’s Spirit in your life. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people but to be wise and strong [in other words, courageous], and to love them and enjoy being with them” (TLB).
How do you know when you’re filled with God’s Spirit? You’re more courageous in your relationships. You love people. You enjoy being with them. You’re not afraid of them because God’s Spirit is in your life. The Bible says that “God is love” and “Love casts out all fear.” The more of God you have in your life, the less fear you’re going to have in your life.
So the starting point in connecting with anybody is to pause, pray, and say, “God, give me the courage to take the first step.” You can do that now with a person you want to connect with.
Talk It Over
How have fear and anxiety kept you from developing deeper friendships? What are some of your fears and anxieties related to deepening friendships?
When do you struggle most with the fear that people will see the “real” you? Or if this isn’t much of a struggle anymore, how did you get past that fear?
How have you experienced confidence and courage as you’ve taken first steps in connecting with others and developing deeper intimacy?
This devotional © 2019 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.