Advent 2022: Loving Without Fear

Published December 21, 2022 by Kathy Bernal

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (John 4:18)

When I was younger, I never wanted to have children. Pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering all seemed too messy for me. I preferred instead to focus on my goals and aspirations of becoming a lawyer. Children seemed like nothing but a distraction. However, now that I reflect back on that time in my life, I realize that it was not stubborn career determination preventing my desire for a family. Instead it was fear. The fear of loving someone so much that it hurts. Loving to the point where you are vulnerable and exposed. Loving the way a parent should love their child.

When I met and married the love of my life, David, I was shocked when my attitude changed overnight. All of a sudden, I couldn't wait to extend our love for each other to a family of our own. The relationship and bond we shared showed me that loving with your whole heart casts out essentially all the fear of vulnerability and heartbreak. Although the fear might linger, it is overpowered by the joy of loving. It turns out this same phenomenon occurs when you become a parent. The fear of loving your children too much is outweighed by the joy of raising them. Yes, it's true that when they hurt, I hurt. In fact most times it feels as if I hurt more than they when disappointment, frustration, or heartbreak enters their world. Yet when they achieve, thrive, and experience true joy, I am fortunate to feel those blessings right along with them.

Parenting, loving—it's all so messy and scary. I'm sure God feels the same when it comes to loving us. He experiences our joys, sorrows, victories, and defeats as His own and yet never wavers in His love. He loves us without fear. It is my prayer that one day my children, like me, will realize that God's way of loving is the only way worth loving.

Dear God, thank you for your gift of motherhood which fulfills my love and embraces the messy. Amen.