Fear By Another Name — “Enough”


There are many people who deny that their life is marked by fear, but for whom fear is one of their primary motivators. The problem is not necessarily some form of denial or defensiveness. Instead, they don’t recognize their fear as fear because it registers in their thoughts and speech under a different term—enough.

Often this change of language is because the fear does not (at least yet) paralyze them, but merely motivates them (for better or worse). In this way, fear is very similar to stress. Certain levels of stress are healthy and cause us to “perform better” in life. We refer to this when we say, “Competition can bring the best out of people.” However, there comes a point where stress (or fear) is detrimental.

For those who do still view their unhealthy fear as a form of motivation they might refer to themselves as:

  • not being good enough (generally or at a specific activity)
  • not having enough money (for security or compared to others)
  • not having achieved enough (compared to a peer or for their age)
  • not being attractive enough (based upon size or some perceived defect)
  • not being social enough (funny, outgoing, compassionate, etc…)

These types of fears can go by other names than just motivations: insecurity, shyness, being driven, over-achieving, thinking ahead, being a planner, etc…

At this point, I would advise you to pause and consider two questions:

  1. What areas of life do you use the word “enough” to signal an area of fear?
  2. What (if not fear) do you call this struggle with fear?

You have now identified an area in your life where you have the opportunity to rely on God and live out of your identity in Christ in new ways. Don’t begin this process with a sense of condemnation. God is calling you FROM bondage (to fear) TO freedom (in Christ).

If we are not careful, we can repent INTO the same bondage we were repenting OF. It sounds like this, “Great, a reminder that now I’m not spiritual ENOUGH. Just add that to the list.” Or “I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I just can’t trust God ENOUGH.” We begin to try to apply God’s Gospel in the same system as our previous slavery.

Start your journey from fear with the truth that you are being delivered by a patient God who loves you. God loves you by grace. Grace means that “enough” is no longer a relevant category to apply to the thing that matters most in life. That is the beginning of freedom from fear.

“Enough” is a slave word. “Grace” is a free word. If I am motivated by “enough” then even my productive and worthwhile accomplishment will eventually become bondage. That is because “enough” always implies “a little better than before.” If I am motivated by “grace” then my successes are celebrations of God’s goodness and my failures are points to remember that I am a loved child still in the process of being made into the image of my Father – a Father who enjoys the process of grooming the character of His children over a life time (Heb. 10:14). This is why grace gives us BOTH comfort and motivation.

Brad Hambrick
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