by Karen DeArmond Gardner
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NASB
God rarely answers why questions, especially when we are in pain. But every once in a while, when we’re not even asking, He answers one of our why questions when we least expect it.
This was one of those moments. I was sitting with hundreds of women at my church listening to Pastor Debbie teach on 2 Timothy 1:7. On the outside, I may have appeared cool, calm, and collected, but on the inside, I was stunned. God had just shown me why I’d stayed in an abusive marriage for 30 years.
I’d spent years beating myself up for staying as long as I did. The NLT version of Jeremiah 31:19 expressed how I often felt: “I kicked myself for my stupidity!”
Now, I suddenly realized being stupid wasn’t my problem. Instead, I’d been conditioned to live in fear… of my husband, of his retribution, of not pleasing him. The brainwashing was so gradual, I didn’t realize that fear had changed me into a timid mouse.
It turns out fear and love are opposites; you can have one or the other, but not both at the same time. In my situation, fear had permeated every part of my spirit. There was no room for love.
Fear had such a hold on me, I couldn’t leave. I believed my marriage was my lot in life, since I had chosen to marry him. My understanding of Scripture had gotten all twisted around: I thought God wanted me to suffer for Jesus and would one day reward me with a crown for enduring it. I was responding to another kind of fear: I was afraid that leaving my marriage would displease God.
So I looked into the meaning of the words in 2 Timothy 1:7.
- Power is the capability to act or do something dangerous.
- Love describes the commitment God has for us, always wanting our good.
- Discipline is the ability to think in a sound or sane manner.
The enemy had tricked me into giving up my power, love, and ability to think soundly. I wrote out what I had learned from 2 Timothy 1:7: God has breathed courage into my spirit and has given me the ability to act in the face of fear and danger, to experience His extravagant love, and to walk in His wisdom, so I can be the woman He called me to be.
I’m so grateful that God answered why that night and set me free from the lies of fear.
Are you trapped in your circumstances? Is fear preventing you from making healthy decisions? Are you ready for the secret to being able to kick fear to the curb?
Look up all the ways God’s love is described in Scripture. Immerse yourself in His pure, powerful, and glorious love; soak in it, embrace it, then share His love with everyone you encounter. Living in God’s love will give you the courage to confront whatever difficulty you’re stuck in, as well as provide wisdom and understanding to know what action He would have you take.
Are you ready to exchange fear for love? “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…the one who fears is not complete in love” (1 John 4:12 CSB).
About the author: Karen DeArmond Gardner is a 30-year survivor of domestic violence. She has spent 15 years on her own healing journey and nearly that long helping others find freedom, restoration, and redemption.
Karen is a facilitator in Freedom Ministry/Sozo and directs the Women’s Ministry at Catch the Fire DFW Church. She also facilitates Mending the Soul, a group that leads women through the trauma of their past into healing and wholeness. She serves on the Board of Directors for Arukah House, a transitional home for women coming out of sex trafficking and abuse.
Karen blogs at Crack the Silence and can be found at her Crack the Silence Facebook page. She continues to be a helpful contact and resource for abused women in her church and community.
Join the conversation: In what ways has fear trapped you?