When Others React in Fear-Based Behaviors

Graphic with quote on grace

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that most of our negative encounters, conflicts, and relational barriers stem from fear. And in this, from a failure to accept, understand, and live in grace. When we mess up, think we have, or worry someone else determines we have, we tend to hide, to blame, to deflect, and point fingers. Many of us have come to recognize these unhealthy reactions in ourselves. But are we also able to see these tendencies in others?

We have a tendency to see the outward symptoms, but God zeroes in on the heart. We see the failings. God sees those too, but always with His eye set on each of our potential. You may have heard the sculptor analogy, may even have used it to comfort yourself.

Man chiseling stone

It says, in essence, that just as the artists sees his finished masterpiece in a slab of stone, once all the excess has been chipped away and rough edges sanded smooth, so too God sees His masterpiece hidden within our sin and brokenness. And like a careful craftsman, He slowly, gently, patiently molds us into men and women who more accurately reflect His Son.

But here’s the thing—we’re not the only ones He’s molding, and we’re not the only ones in need of grace. We’re not the only ones who need to be reminded that there indeed is grace.

My daughter often says, “Every painting has an ugly phase,” a phase, frankly, the artist never wants to display. Some may even bolt the doors to the studio, barring entrance until their work reaches a certain standard.

I suspect this is true for many of the people you and I encounter. They long to be fully known and fully loved. We all do. But they’re afraid of rejection. So, whenever someone begins to jiggle their doorknob or their unfinished pieces begin to show, they react. They lash out, withdraw, or both. Humans have exhibited this pattern of fear-based behavior since the beginning of time, since the very first humans committed their very first sin.

You might be familiar with this story preserved in Genesis 3. God gave Adam and Eve a clear and reasonable command. They could enjoy everything in the literal paradise God had created except for the fruit from a single tree. They disobeyed, despite the abundance, and immediately felt the weight of their sin. Shame entered their heart and caused them to hide, to deflect, and to blame. (Gen. 3:7-14) They felt exposed and immediately sought to cover their shame, to in effect plaster over their sin. But nothing they did could appease their guilt or remove their shame.

So, how did God respond?

He moved in. “Where are you?” He asked (v. 9), and not because He didn’t know. Rather, He was calling them out of hiding, into the light of His presence once more*. Then, verse 21 tells us, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” This was the first animal sacrifice in history, a vivid picture of Christ’s death to come. In other words, through this covering, God did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves; He covered them in grace.

The same grace He provided to you and I. A grace He wants us to not only experience but also put on full display.

Our God is still calling people out of hiding, and He longs to use us to do so. May He help us to see, respond to, and love others in the same way He loves us so that through us everyone we encounter may catch a glimpse of His life-changing grace.

*Idea taken from Tara Rye, a Wholly Loved Team Member, and her thoughts on this biblical account.

Image for Wholly Loved's Relational Health Bible Reading Plan

As you prayerfully work through various relationships, you may find Wholly Loved’s 20 Days to Relational Health Bible plan helpful. Locate it HERE.

And for all of us parents, grandparents, guardians, aunts, and uncles, I encourage you to listen to my latest Faith Over Fear Podcast, titled Raising Courageous Kids. Because we all have a responsibility to love the next generation well.

Trusting God to Hear You – Ep. 89 Faith Over Fear

We’ve probably all had times when we desperately needed God or assurance from Him but couldn’t feel His presence or hear His voice. In those seasons, we might fear that He’s not listening or isn’t attentive to our cries, but this is far from true. In this episode, Ava Pennington and Jennifer Slattery discuss God’s character, His heart toward us, and His promise to hear us when we cry out to Him. Follow Ava: https://www.AvaPennington.com https://www.facebook.com/AvaPennington.AuthorPage https://www.instagram.com/avapennington3/ Follow Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Grab a Fighting Fear with Faith T-shirt Here: https://whollyloved.com/product/faith-over-fear-t-shirt/ Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. When have you struggled to believe that God heard or hears you? 3. What are some things that might have contributed to your struggle? 4. Can you share a time when you felt certain that God did hear you? 5. When it comes to our relationship with Christ, why is it important to rely on truth rather than our feelings? 6. What are some characteristics of God that assure us of His attentiveness toward us? 7. Is there a particular verse or truth you hold tight to and remind yourself of when you feel alone or unheard by God? 8. How does knowing all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present God hears you, always, help increase your peace? 9. What does it mean to you that God the Father loves you as much as He loves God the Son? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Aleksei Morozov
  1. Trusting God to Hear You – Ep. 89
  2. The Courage to Shine a Light for Jesus – Ep. 88
  3. John the Baptist and the Courage to Look Weird – Ep 87
  4. Podcast Recap: The Best of 2021 – Ep. 86
  5. Christmas with Mary and Joseph: Trusting God to Protect You – Ep. 85

And make sure to connect with me on Facebook and Instagram! Find Wholly Loved Ministries HERE.

*Scripture taken from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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2 Comments

  1. “Then, verse 21 tells us, ‘The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.’ This was the first animal sacrifice in history, a vivid picture of Christ’s death to come. In other words, through this covering, God did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves; He covered them in grace.”

    I always picture God weeping over whatever animal-His beloved creation-He killed to provide a covering for Adam and Eve. The Bible declares that God saw everything He’d made and called it “good”. The animal he slaughtered was innocent, just as Jesus was innocent. As He tenderly covered their shame with the skin of the animal, He tenderly covers us with the mercy and grace obtained by Christ on the Cross. May we live in it as Adam and Eve wore the skins of the innocent animal.

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