“You might as well come along with me,” Fear said. “I know how things work around here. I’ll help you out.”
She hesitated. What he said made sense, but she didn’t like how she felt when she heard him say it.
Fear noticed her pause. “I’ve been around here a long time,” he coaxed. “Who else will look out for you and keep you safe? Nobody knows you like I do. You don’t want to get hurt, do you?”
She glanced around. Who else would look out for her? Life could be so treacherous, and she hated the pain. She couldn’t help but feel that if she were smarter, or maybe stronger, it wouldn’t be so hard. Nobody else seemed to struggle the way she struggled inside. Maybe this really was her ticket out and into a life where she could breathe in safety.
“Ok,” she said, her voice a little shaky. “What do I do?”
Fear gave her a little crooked half-smile. “Just relax. I’ll alert you when there’s any potential danger so you can do what is necessary to protect yourself properly. Think of it as a partnership. We’re going to work great together. You’ll see.”
Fear kept his word. He never failed to alert her to danger. She became very accustomed to hearing his voice and taking swift action.
“Your house needs more security. Someone could break in.” She spent $2300 on a new security system.
“That woman is looking at you funny. She is going to be gossiping about you to her friends later.” She quickly made sure her own friends knew what a terrible attitude the woman had and how awfully she’d behaved.
“Did you hear about that Morrison kid? He got arrested for shoplifting. Turns out he also had drugs on him. Your kids go to the same school and have some of the same friends.” She forbade her kids from hanging out with anyone other than church friends, and rarely permitted them to go anywhere without her immediate supervision.
“Looks like you’ve gained a few pounds. There are enormous health risks with that, you know. Besides…you don’t want your husband to start looking elsewhere because you’ve let yourself go, do you?” She embarked upon a very strict dietary regimen for herself and her family. Low fat, low carb, low salt, no processed sugar, no artificial anything. She also became extra vigilant about her husband’s female coworkers and Facebook friends, taking note of any who seemed extra friendly.
“You’re going to be late…”
“That teacher is being unfair to your kid…”
“The neighbor’s yard looks better than yours, and you know how they talk…”
“Do you really want anyone who drops by to see this house in the state it’s currently in?”
“Your best friend seems to be getting awfully chummy with that new neighbor of hers…”
“You can’t really call yourself a serious Christian if you aren’t showing up to every church event…”
“Do you know what happens to kids who watch the sort of movies yours are watching?”
“If you don’t take care of this, it won’t be done properly and it will reflect on you…”
And on and on it went. Fear nudged her often, and she responded faithfully by initiating controls to lessen the potential damage of each scenario. It didn’t matter if the scenarios were even reasonable. If Fear spoke it, she controlled it. Fear reminded her that Shame was a terrible tyrant and that by sticking with him she could employ the controls that would keep Shame at bay so that she would not be exposed and humiliated and have to experience unbearable pain.
This is how she built her house upon a foundation set on the three stilts of Fear, Shame, and Control. And though it wobbled, she would not be moved.
Love waited patiently for the earthquake that would level her house. He knew it would happen eventually, because Fear, Shame, and Control are seismic disasters that produce a constant state of tremor. Love knew He had the ability to rescue her and abolish those terrible taskmasters; they were no match for Him. But Love also knew that true love doesn’t force but leaves room for choice, and so He purposed to give her that room. She could have whatever she chose.
And so Love waited for her, and as He waited, and He sang.