Where that was, I don't know. For me, Jesus was love, the Holy Spirit was my guidance counselor, but God was a different story. I just couldn't connect the Three into One and the word "fear" was immediately followed by a shiver of fear every time I read a scripture that talked about fear of the Lord. Slowly, I realized that my brain was translating fear into the following three phrases:
- Fear = scared and shaking
- Fear = punishment for being bad
- Fear = sent to Hell for sin
In 2009, I realized that this reaction was irrational and based on "false evidence that was appearing as real" (FEAR). Educating myself about the different definitions of "fear": was the first action I took.
- Fear = Anxiety; solicitude; the cause or object which excites apprehension. OK, I knew THIS definition by heart and that was my problem. So I continued to read the other definitions.
- Fear = Reverence for God and his laws, which springs from a just view and love of the divine character.
- Fear = Reverence; respect; due regard for rightful authority.
- Fear = To reverence; to have reverential awe of ; to venerate
- Fear = To have fear for or be solicitous concerning (rare)
Anxiety was definitely what I was feeling about that darn word, fear. However, not one definition contained the word punishment! Instead, I read about reverence and respect. Not just ordinary respect, but the highest degree of respect or veneration. Now I had some ammunition to use on my irrational reaction.
The resolution of my problem was simple. Every time I felt fear shoot through me when reading about fear of the Lord I followed these simple steps:
- Self talk: When I felt apprehensive after reading "fear of the Lord" I would tell myself," Stop, it isn't that kind of fear. It's reverence and respect."
- Substitution: I would reread the verse and substitute the word reverence for fear.
- Persistence: I practiced steps one and two until I quit feeling fear!