Just like perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), perfect fear casts out love. Whatever you think about all day long is what you become, and for many of us, our fears and insecurities become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you’re driving on a dangerous mountain road, looking at how long the cliff drop is will eventually take your car in that direction, it’s just how we’re wired.
The same is true with fear. PTSD doesn’t only happen to people who join the army and the marines, but it can happen to sexually abused women, people who’ve had a near-death experience, people who’ve been cheated on in a relationship, etc. Some years ago, I had a room-mate who was a hermit. He didn’t have any friends and the only time he left the house was when he needed to go to work and buy groceries.
After getting to know this guy, I eventually came to realize that he was actually a really nice guy. Once I really got to know him, I found out why he was a hermit. He told me that when he was much younger, he lived in Europe and used to attend a local church. At that church, the leadership team was very strict and religious, and they used to control and manipulation to get him to do whatever they wanted him to do in that church.
His experiences there were so terrible that at a certain point, he was done going to church because he believed that all churches are controlling and manipulative. About a year after he shared that with me, I was in my garage working on a friends car, and I decided to temporarily move one of his things out of the way so that I could have more room to work on my friends’ car.
After I finished the car repair, I put his things back in the same place, and I went to bed. Not too long after I went to bed, my roommate opened my door and started yelling at me because he noticed that I moved his stuff in the garage and didn’t put it back exactly the same way he had it organized before. After I apologized, he continued yelling at me, so I told him to get out of my room.
In the following weeks, my roommate completely lost his mind. He threw my toilet paper in the backyard, he put some of my dirty car parts in my refrigerator, and he even started threatening me verbally. Eventually, that roommate was kicked out of the house for his erratic behavior.
After all that, I realized why my previous roommate didn’t have any friends. He didn’t want to be alone all the time, but his bad experience he had with a church 10+ years ago kept him in a state of perpetual paralysis. Any small thing people do to him, directly or indirectly, that might possibly be perceived as controlling or manipulative, would bring out all of his fear, insecurity, and feelings of inadequacy from his past.
When people who’ve been controlled or manipulated never getting healed from those bad experiences, they feel vulnerable. Because they don’t want to feel weak or get taken advantage of, they live their lives trying to prove to the world that they’re in charge and nobody is going to tell them what to do.
Subconsciously, this type of reactionary thinking causes many people to push away the very thing they’re longing for; love and acceptance. People who are controlling and manipulative will control and manipulate other people to protect themselves from feeling powerless, controlled, and manipulated.
The only way we can end this crazy destructive cycle is being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It’s not an overnight process, but the love and power of Jesus through means of counseling, prayer, inner healing, etc, is strong enough for His perfect love to cast out all fear.