Archives For July 2012

The Fear of Love

Tim Jackson —  July 23, 2012 — 8 Comments

I recently chatted with a young woman who survived growing up in a dangerous home with an evil father. Oh, he looked normal enough to outsiders—kept a job, paid the bills, went to church, and played the part for the public—but in private, he was a cruel, sadistic beast who preyed upon the insecurities of his wife and children.

How did she survive? She became a runner. She learned how to outdistance the problem, literally and emotionally.

In junior and senior high school, she ran track. She was a fierce competitor. She’d had lots of practice. Putting distance between herself and a threatening adversary became second nature not only on the track, but also off the track in her relationships.

Now that she’s found a good man who—unlike her dad—can be trusted, she’s discovered that she just can’t stop running. She readily admits the undeniable longing for love deeply embedded in her heart. But while that desire entices her, it terrifies her even more!

Why? Because she’s realizing that running has become a way of life.

The truth is, all relationships are risky and have the potential for both pain and pleasure. Running is her way to manage that potential for pain in her relationships. Admittedly, it helped her survive an abusive situation, but now it’s sabotaging her potential for joy in a relationship with a man who truly loves her.

It’s her fear of love that’s paralyzing her from moving forward.

John Eldredge wrote in Wild at Heart, “The only thing more tragic than the tragedy that happens to us is the way we handle it” (p. 106).

Oddly enough, for many it’s the fear of losing love that shuts love down before it even has a chance to take root and grow.

This young woman’s fear of intimacy, of getting close, of finally being loved paralyzes her heart, preventing her from exchanging her running shoes for a pair of dancing shoes.

For many who have suffered the torment of growing up in an abusive home, their capacity to trust others to deeply love and care for them and not leave them is greatly diminished. They find it next to impossible to believe anyone will stay in their lives for an extended time, much less for a lifetime. They are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, dashing their hopes for a meaningful relationship yet again.

The solution for many is, “Just don’t get close to anyone. Outdistance the pain. Never commit. Keep moving, and you’ll never feel the pain of abandonment or abuse again.”

Unfortunately it works for a while . . . with some of the pain. But it’s a thief. It steals. It kills. And it destroys one’s opportunity to playfully splash around in the refreshing waters of committed love.

But there is hope. The antidote to our fear is perfect love. The problem is we are not perfectly loved. Or are we?

John, the apostle of love, said it best: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18 NIV). It’s God’s perfect love for us that can infuse us with the courage necessary to take the risk of loving others. And that’s the antidote that can transform any of us from “runners” to “lovers.” John’s words are a necessary reminder when we panic and start lacing up our running shoes. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

So, what shoes are you wearing these days? Running shoes or dancing shoes? I love to hear your thoughts and stories.



The Irony of Tears

Tim Jackson —  July 11, 2012 — 1 Comment

On Sunday evening I celebrated the wedding of my son and his bride. The whole weekend was one filled with meaningful interactions with dear friends, family, and my son and his new wife. I will treasure those memories forever.

But earlier that morning when I checked my email, my heart sank. I read the email from a dear friend and colleague that his dad had lost his battle with cancer at 1:47 that same morning.

The irony was unmistakable. And I felt torn.

One family rejoices over the beginning of a new relationship. The other family grieves over the loss of a relationship. One celebrates at a wedding. The other weeps at a funeral. One celebrates over a young couple making vows with so much promise ahead. The other laments over the man who kept his promise to his wife for 62 years.

And, yes, there were plenty of tears at both celebrations.

The irony is that for those who trust in the God of the Bible, whether they are tears of joy or tears of grief, both are anchored in hope.

The hope of a new life together as a married couple crosses the threshold of a wedding ceremony is the same hope that fuels the anticipation of the joyful reunion of a new life after one walks through death’s door.

The apostle Paul’s exhortation to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15) makes no sense unless it is rooted in the hopeful promise of redemption (Rom. 8:20-24). It’s that hope that doesn’t disappoint us, because it’s anchored in the love that God pours into our hearts by His indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).

It’s the love of our God that sustains our hope and frees us to honestly face the ironies of life—to both celebrate with those who are celebrating and to grieve with those who are mourning. Hope empowers us to embrace both.



I’ve attended a number of weddings in my life. This weekend I’ll be officiating at one. I’ve had the privilege of marrying several couples, but this one will be different. It’s for my son Tyler and his bride Abby.

I’m flooded with all kinds of emotions and thoughts as I approach and prepare for that glorious celebration of their love. I feel . . .

Honored. I was very content to show up at the wedding as the proud father of the groom. I’m proud of my son. Proud to be know as “Tyler’s dad.” I felt blessed the day he entered my world from the hand of God 27 years ago as my firstborn. And I feel even more blessed today. At their request, I’ll be sharing in officiating their wedding along with Abby’s dad (Her dad, by the way, is one of my dearest friends. How sweet it that? We get to marry our kids! And no, we never could have planned it this way. It’s totally a God thing.)

Humbled. I look at my son and sometimes wonder, “Who is this kid?” Oops, I mean, “Who is this man?” Remember, I know his parents! Part of the joy of parenting is standing back in wonder and amazement at who our children become. Yea, I know we had something to do with shaping, influencing and molding that curious little boy into the man he’s become, but don’t ask me how. More often than not I feel like it’s more of a mystery, that in spite of who we are, he’s become who he is. He’s so much further down the road than I was at his age. Thank God.

Excited. This is a whole new era in the Jackson household. While my son hasn’t lived at home for a while, this celebration of marriage is a major game changer. The shift in loyalties (Gen. 2:24) from the families in which they grew up to the new family they are building together is a seismic shift for all. He’s promising to be more loyal and devoted to her than to us. And that’s the way it should be. The bonus is, I get another daughter. Abby is precious. A perfect fit for Tyler. She will love him, challenge him, encourage him and battle with and for him. She is such an answer to our prayers and a gift from God as well.

Hopeful. As I look at what the next generation of Jesus followers will be like, I’m hopeful when I see Tyler and Abby together. They are passionate about loving Jesus and loving each other. That’s hopeful in my book–that the love of God will overflow in their love for each other and spill out on to all those who come in contact with them. That’s a glorious reflection of the life of Christ in us–the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

Grateful. I sit in amazement at the goodness of God.  Why me? Why my family? We’re just as broken as anyone else. We’re nothing special. And I know many families who haven’t had the opportunity to celebrate such a joyous occasion. I’m undeserving and yet deeply grateful for God’s lavish goodness. Jesus taught that his Father was the “how much more” kind of God.  He said it this way, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11)

Ultimately, our celebration of marriage this coming weekend is truly a celebration of God’s good gifts and especially His redeeming love that has rescued each of us and makes a loving marriage a real possibility.

Thank you, God, for all your good gifts. Your love makes our love possible. We celebrate You as we celebrate with Tyler and Abby because You love them even more than we do! Thank You.