by Traci Jahnke
Jeff and I have attended a marriage conference almost every year of our 15 year marriage. We made a commitment to take time away each year to focus on God, each other, and the areas we need to work on in our marriage. Over the years, there was one couple that taught at our conferences that we both seemed to connect with. God has used them to speak truth to our hearts that we needed to hear.
One year, they mentioned: “If you want to know your spouse’s greatest need, you have to know their greatest fear.” You have to get to a place in your relationship, where you trust the other person ENOUGH to be completely vulnerable and share your greatest fear. To completely hand your heart over to another is scary. How will they care for it? Will they be gentle with it? Will I ever regret what I share?
I pondered this topic off and on for several years. I kept wanting to determine my greatest fear so that I could share it with Jeff, so that he could know my greatest need and fulfill it! I think I incorrectly added that last part myself; I don’t think our mentors MEANT that my spouse could fulfill my greatest need and fear. They meant if Jeff could KNOW it, he could love me and support me in my greatest fear and need.
Losing my mom has been a heartbreaking journey so far; I miss her so much and somehow I don’t think I will get over that. Life has lost its fullness and sparkle without her. But her death has exposed cracks in me. Along the way, I have discovered my greatest fear: being alone. Looking back over my life, I believe it has always been my fear. I tried to alleviate that fear during my teen years by choosing any boyfriend that might fill that need. After my divorce, I was terrified of being alone and being a single mom. Since Mom has been gone, I have struggled with the fear of losing Jeff in the future. It would be very easy for me to make Jeff an idol in my life, because it wouldn’t take much for me to have an anxiety attack thinking about living life without him. In some ways, at 50 years old, I haven’t come very far in dealing with my greatest fear.
Through my circumstances, Bible study, and prayer, God has been trying to show me and teach me that though I may lose everything in this life, I will not lose Him and HE IS ALL I NEED. Though I prayed and got the best doctors and hospitals for Mom, she still died. There is a lack of control in my fear in being alone. God is sovereign; I am not. Is my faith real? If all is taken away, will I still love and trust God? For that is when faith is proved real.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1-2
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” Isaiah 43:2
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17
So, now that I have acknowledged my greatest fear, I am a work-in-progress on surrendering this fear to God. For Jeff cannot alleviate this fear, fix this fear, or be the fulfillment in this fear. Only God can bring me full peace from this fear. But though I have a way to go, I KNOW that God is real, that He is the one true God, that I belong to Him, that those He saves will live forever with Him in paradise, and His love for me is unfathomable and unchangeable. As I continue to meditate on these PROMISES from Him, I know He will transform my fear into more faith.
What is your greatest fear? Spend some time pondering it. Fear can hold us back from being fully known in our marriage relationship or close friendships. It can stand between us and a real, intimate relationship with Jesus. Fear can even cripple us from obedience to God, that thing that we KNOW God wants us to do or the addiction He wants to release us from or the person He wants us to BE for His kingdom and glory. Join me in surrendering your greatest fear to God; in believing that He alone can be fully trusted, and let us experience the love and freedom that comes with it!