You’ve asked for what you need and they agreed. You came up with a “plan of action” that worked for you both. It followed guidelines you both believe in, was written down and straight forward. It asked a lot of you but, you were committed. More than this, you both committed this effort to God. This would be a stretch but, if that is what God wants so be it.
It’s been a year since you started on this journey. You’ve enjoyed the challenge, accepted new responsibilities and grown spiritually as you kept your love of God and your spouse foremost in your heart. However, one year later, nothing you requested has changed. This isn’t the first time and you are afraid as the question pops into your mind, “Do they really love me?”
Why We Feel Fear
Fear is a normal human emotion born in an area of our brain called the amygdala. It “tags” memories with an emotion. It serves you in many ways. It attempts to “paint” the relevance of any relationship in your life with the emotion that will serve you best. You “feel” a little differently about each of your friends. This provides you with much more information than any verbal explanation of the friendship. This emotional information is a summation of everything the two of you have ever been through. It is also integrated with information from anyone that in any way reminds you of them. Given their importance, emotions contain a lot of information we learn to trust.
Your amygdala produces your emotions, including feelings of fear. The sensory information it depends on comes to it in two ways; a “short loop” and a “long loop”. The “short loop” provides a continuous stream of sensory information that passes from your body directly into the amygdala. It is constantly providing an “initial assessment” of what is going on around you using minimal information. While driving, it will create a fear response when “out of the corner of your eye”, you sense “something” (maybe a child) too close to the road.
Your amygdala is also fed by another continuous stream of information called the “long loop”. When given a little time, the long loop first takes all of your sensory information to information processing centers in your cortex. This information is then passed on to the amygdala. In this way, your amygdala has the benefit of both the long and short loops when considering the specific emotion with which to “tag” a memory. Initial feelings of fear may give way to a feeling of love if, with a little more information, the child you noticed at the side of the road, is your son or daughter trying to get your attention.
This can explain the apparent contradiction when wisdom material such as the Bible asks you to
“fear not, for I am with you” and yet, “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. The first is a form of training for the short or emergent loop. It asks that you train even this short loop to experience your relationships in accordance with your beliefs. For example, this practice would allow you to avoid a fear response when first exposed to someone from another culture. These types of practices help your short loop to enhance your ability to access situations when provided little time or information.
The second statement, “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, is a call to see your world in the largest possible way while experiencing life and before making any judgement. This fear practice provides you with firm boundaries. You develop a healthy fear of any habitual thought, feeling or action that is contrary to what you believe to be right or true.
Fear in Relationships
Let’s go back to the question you may be asking yourself, “Does your spouse really love you?” After a year of working with each other on this agreement, there is plenty of information available.
- You made a plan that included walking with God.
- You followed an established process you both agreed to.
- You frequently measured and monitored your goals together.
- You observed periods of prayer and fasting to both celebrate and invigorate your efforts.
- You included others with strong marriages to help and support you along the way.
- You both tried and documented clearly your efforts.
- You’ve both reached in and reached out to listen to Him and do His Will.
But, despite the effort, the promises they made were not kept. Before we go on, please make sure that all aspects of your plan contain the elements mentioned above
Aligned and Unaligned Causes of Fear
Here are four potential causes of your fear that comes with your question. Two causes honor your worldview and the others will lead you astray:
Leading you away fear:
Short loop unaligned fear
- Sometimes unmet needs are seen as existentially absolute, even when this is not a part of your worldview. This trains your short loop or emergent system to activate each time you see evidence that your needs aren’t being met. Over time, you will find yourself looking for anything that looks like “non- compliance” on either of your parts. This results in emotional stacking that will work against you.
- Feeling this way over time creates a schism in your faith. You activate emergently both normally and under the “new rules” of not getting your needs met.
- Additional unaligned emergent fears are created during times when you catch yourself “giving up on your needs” in an attempt to realign with your faith.
Long loop unaligned fear
- When you allow the meeting of your needs to become central to your existential worldview your subconscious organization becomes fractured. Lacking a cohesive faith or world view, your ability to apply your subconscious resources to any decision becomes increasingly difficult and compromised. Everything becomes relative. Increasingly you decide simply with whatever “feels right at the time”. Fear is created any time you think you may not get your needs met.
- Overtime, lacking a true, practiced, organized worldview leads to a lack of internal organization and a disconnect with others. Your conscious and subconscious minds don’t integrate as easily, well or deeply. An amorphous fear of loneliness develops within you, between you and others and between you and the world.
Fear that follows your faith or worldview:
Short loop aligned fear
This type of fear allows you to quickly notice when something is standing in the way of God’s Will and your relationship.
- You may not like the way you just spoke to each other and need to talk about it.
- You sense some part of the agreement is going terribly wrong and need to talk about it.
- You find yourself tempted by something or someone outside the relationship and need to talk about it.
Long loop aligned fear
- With careful consideration and in full alignment with your world views, you find aspects of your agreement that aren’t working for you.
- With careful consideration, you find supports for your relationship that aren’t aligning with your faith or worldview.
- With careful consideration, you notice the struggles and reach out for answers that presently neither of you know or have considered.
You love each other but, your very human love is dependent on the strength of your practiced commitment to your faith and existential worldview. There are so many aspects of your body, culture and life that can confuse you. You will build resilience to your faith and the peace that passes all understanding by continuously reaching to “seek, knock, ask and find” your answers in Him.
Your personal relationship with God is your most precious relationship. It is spiritually and, of course biologically, the relationship upon which all others depend.
To learn more ways to strengthen your relationships and work out problems with wisdom, sign up risk-free for the Grow in Oneness Course.