The Fear That Feeds Our Discontent

We all struggle with too often or habitually doing or thinking things that we know are bad for us and/or those around us.

Our dysfunctional behavior is fueled by anger and resentment deeply rooted within us. We are angry at the fact that, somewhere along the line of our lives, our core emotional needs were not met.

Like so much anger we manifest, that which fuels our dysfunctional behavior is a reaction to fears we hold.

What we fear is that our core emotional needs cannot be met.

That enduring, fundamental human fear is two-fold: that God (or something/someone like it) is not in control of things, and that we are not lovable.

Those two fears—the one which looks to the outside world, and the other which looks to the inside—are complementary aspects of the same fear: That we and the world at large are not grounded in love.

The deep and abiding fear that the system in which they live and operate is not ultimately defined by love has always made everyone, in one way or another, crazily insecure.

The conditions necessary for the reality of human free will—being mainly our absolute autonomy—means that it always will, too. The cost of our ineradicable uncertainty is our free will.

(Note: While its assertion that God is love automatically renders Christianity a perfectly comprehensive answer to the one great human fear, being Christian does not inure anyone from the acute, ongoing angst of existential doubt. Every Christian remains, after all, a human—free will and all.)

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  • Smartypants!

  • Dear John,

    Just so you know, I meant my comment above in a good way. I have nothing to add to your post, except my agreement.

  • Well, I didn't want to say anything, Diane–but it's true. My pants are smart. This isn't the appropriate place to go into the myriad ways in which they every day prove it, but trust me: My pants are almost disturbingly brilliant.

  • Tim

    My beautiful bride of 15 years made a hasty retreat from our marriage.

    Stuck somewhere between the stages of anger and depression, I had hammered out all of my rage and hatred in journal entries that do nothing but raise my blood pressure and make me miserable. They certainly don't make her feel bad. She's off having the time of her life.

    What I can say for sure, is that when I hang onto my rights of outrage, Pharisaically gripping my cloaks of vile raiment tightly about me, I become the biggest fool. My heart races, my head aches, I dread the night, the morning, and the mid-day. Yeah. I really showed her what for!

    Forgiveness doesn't come easily. Like you say…we are human and we exercise free will. The spirit is willing but the flesh wants blood. The hardest thing for me to do right now is to desire is an attitude of forgiveness. But I know eventually it will come. This stage won't last forever.

    Thanks for your timely observation, John.

  • Greta Sheppard

    I am very moved by Tim's story . . . it proves that anger destroys more marriages than adultery does. It 's so sad that we have to grow old before we wisen up to the power of apology and begin to experience the freedom forgiveness brings to us.

    Pride and fear destroy us….peace and forgiveness frees us.

  • Tim

    Actually Greta, I was about to correct you and say that I wasn't angry until I found out she left me for a married co-worker. But after thinking a bit, I realize that my wife must have been angry enough to justify the choices she made. The blame is part mine, of course. I was suffering the symptoms of an undiagnosed chronic depression for years. Evidently she was unable to be straightforward about her unhappiness. She buried her feelings. Outwardly she played the happy mother and wife right up until the very weekend she told me she was divorcing me. BOOM!! 14 years of marriage and family together—all in the dissolution crapper. Its still unclear to me whether she was angry with me for being depressed, or angry with herself for not confronting me about my depressive behavior until it had driven her to seek love from co-worker.

    After its all said and done, however, I think marriages are destroyed by one person's choice to sever the relationship and give up. People are certainly able to get past depression, cheating, anger, lies, etc. Even marrieds without religious faith do this all the time. I truly hope to have all the joy, peace and forgiveness for her that God is able to give me. And I would love nothing more than to reconcile our relationship. But it will always be her choice that determines whether or not that happens.

    I do thank you for your insights.

  • Deep stuff, John. You're like the hippie Yoda!

  • I here made it too dense, I know. I just thought I'd really strip it down to its core, see how it looked. It's elegant this way, but I should probably open it up a bit more, make it a little smoother. It's just something I'm working on.

  • altonwoods

    Hey John! hows is your summer going so far?

    The fears you're refering to here are based in lies that we believe are true, which are kept nestled away in our disfunctional belief systems. Of course, our enemy is the father of lies so I'm thinking that there must be a connection…

  • Hey, gimme 500 dense words anytime. I can pore over them repeatedly and spend hours thinking.

    Sure beats a 700-page book that I finish and think, "WTH was that?".

    (Don't worry; I'm not talking about any of your books).

  • Red: Actually, I know that my book "I'm OK–You're Not" DOES often inspire the very "WTF?" response you've mentioned, since I wrote it in such a … extreme style. (Which I wouldn't do again. Again; I was … trying something.) But thanks, as always, for your kind thoughtfulness.

    Alton: My summer's been … well, actually, I've been so swamped with work I'm afraid I haven't NOTICED much of it. But it's a blessing to HAVE work in these times, so my summer's been great! It really has been good, thanks for asking.

    Tim: Dude. ROUGH stuff. Yikes. Sounds like you're weathering it like a champ, though.