The Pain of Unintentional Fear

grandfather and granddaughterA grandfather recounted a joy filled time of tickling, bouncing, chasing and laughing with his two to three year old granddaughter. One of life’s greatest joys turned to one of life’s most painful in an instant. The grandfather often had regaled each of his own children in playtimes with a gentle toss on the bed or a sofa then running out of the room. His child would hurry to chase after him, tag him, laugh and wait for the process to be repeated. What had brought laughter from his children brought tears from his granddaughter. Rather than giggle and chase her grandfather she lay sobbing crying out, “You threw me away!” What a colossal misunderstanding! The youngsters’ interpretation of the event was not at all the intention of her grandfather. Was it her fault that she misread his heart and intentions? Or, was it the adults for not being more sensitive and a better communicator?

The approaching holiday may leave some feeling like this grandfather. Decorations for Halloween are going up and plans are being made for the occasion including parties, costumes, and food. The use of spider webs, sinister looking black cats, ghosts, werewolves, and blood are rarely in short supply. These gross and scary things are meant to be fun and creative. They usually are. Sadly, from time to time they spawn fear rather than fun. They may even lead to nightmares and loss of sleep by those sensitive ones we care about so much. Telling them “We were joking” feels totally inadequate. These dear ones who are sensitive enough to sense when we are hurting and offer comfort are the same ones whose hearts will shrink from the warts, blood, and blackness made common for the intent of having fun.

Is determining who is to blame and feeling indignant or angry at the thought of being misunderstood when our intent should have been so obvious the answer? Would it be better to be proactive instead of reactive? Would a different plan be a better plan? Perhaps emphasizing harvest parties rather than scary parties would ensure everyone had a great experience.

The goal of every Christian is to become more like Jesus. He is our model and example. We want to look as much like Jesus as possible. Because God loved us we want to love others. Jesus demonstrated His love for us by giving up His rights and doing what was best for us, not himself.

Jesus did not come to bring a spirit of fear. Rather than “a spirit of fear and timidity”, God gives “power, love, and self-discipline”. The word translated “fear” in 2 Timothy 1:7 literally means cowardice, which is a trait lacking the gifts of God. God’s gifts enable Christ followers to face danger or pain without showing fear. It is a gift enabling giving up my rights for the sake of others.

How can we communicate love like this in our words and our actions this Halloween?

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