I’ve been thinking a lot about the word fear. It’s an interesting word with multiple meanings. Profound reverence
The noun definitions for fear describe human emotions like danger or anxiety.
One definition describes a different emotion: an intense respect toward God.
Not respect in an undefined deity, or the concept of some cosmic force. Not even in a human leader.
It refers to a “profound reverence, especially toward God.” Profound Reverance
In fact, this definition of fear even changes the context of the word from a noun to a verb. Fear itself is also an action.
I am someone who can be paralyzed by anxiety. Once, I let my fear lock me away from the world for many years. I found a comfort zone, stayed there until I became stagnant in life, then became numb.
Even worse, I took my family with me.
The facade of my shelter was much like a mirror. Thin and fragile, it reflected the image I wanted to portray to the world: all is well behind the glass. Keeping people at a distance, it allowed them to see enough to appease their curiosity. A glossy image, it hid the internal chaos from full exposure, from the world and from myself.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)
It was easy to believe I built a solid shelter because it appeared strong. But the foundation of fear on which I built those walls not only kept me (and my family) inside, giving us a false sense of security.
Storms in life are inevitable.
Even when we prepare for them, we never know if we stand on solid ground until our foundation is shaken. As I discovered, what appears to be stable shatters under the pressure of a storm. Everything I sought to protect was stripped from me, leaving my family exposed to the elements.
In certain situations, a survival instinct kicks in I can only describe as primal. Fear, the noun, no longer exists. It is now a verb, the point in which dire action must be taken to survive. Stripped of my strength, with my children depending on me and my husband every bit as broken as I was, there was no room for emotional fear.
Those who knew me “before” call me strong. I humbly correct them.
For in all the destruction, there came a new kind of fear.
The respectful kind, “a profound reverence, especially toward God.”For in all the destruction, there came a new kind of fear. The respectful kind, “a profound reverence, especially toward God. -Jennifer Cotney” Click To Tweet
It was a situation that could have left me bitter. But I had a new definition of fear, one that was bigger than my anxieties or anticipation of danger.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 (NIV)
I stood in the ashes of my life with embers still aflame and laughed. I knew everything “before” was built on the wrong foundation, the wrong “fear”.
As a family, we worked together to lay a new foundation. We stand now on solid rock far sturdier than any we could have built by our mere works. Storms still come through our lives. Sometimes, they leave damage. But we no longer live by fear the emotional noun, we live by fear the active verb. And with profound reverence.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 (NIV) F
How do you define your fear? Have you faced a situation that forced you to act to overcome fear? Please share about it in the comments below.
*Originally published in 2018
About the Author
Jennifer Cotney is a graduate of Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia and lives in New Orleans with her family. She is a contributing writer for If Pets Could Talk Magazine, a regional magazine in southeast Louisiana. She also works as a freelance production technician in the concert industry. With a heart for rescue, animal and human, she is often found volunteering at a local animal shelter or serving as the Outreach Coordinator for Faith Movers Church, New Orleans.
Want to read more stories of people reaching beyond their fear into their faith in Christ?
Flying Through the Air with Faith by Amy Merritt
Faith, Fear, and Fire Hydrants by Chip Mattis
The Dreaded F Word by Norma Poore
His Hope in the Darkness by Alynda Long