different foster families, she never felt like she was at home – always had her guard up, never felt safe, never connected. As she moved into teenage, she went through friends like she was on a merry-go-round. She became promiscuous, as is true of so many sexually abused children. She told me she could feel the feelings, but couldn’t let them out.
What’s the problem? Well, she’s been hurt. She’s trying to protect herself from being hurt again. And so she never lets out who she really is. When I asked her what she wanted help with, she told me she wanted to learn how to hold in her anger. I told her I wasn’t big on holding it in. When I said that, this big question mark appeared on her face. “I’m big on being truthful about my feelings, but expressing them in respectful and helpful ways.” So, she was extremely superficial. She acted like she was having fun and interested in others, but before all that, she was cautious and controlled. She can’t be relational, because it’s blocked by her fear. And fear was caused by her wounds, which brings us back to John again – the apostle who wasn’t very loving, but learned it in his relationship with Jesus. Let’s look in 1 John 4:18.
1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment – or torment, in the King James – and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
So we saw that there is a godly hatred, and now we’re looking at perfect – or godly – love. When we’re afraid of being hurt, it inhibits our ability to love. But, if we love enough – or perfectly, or in a godly way – we don’t fear what others may do to us. We reach out. We care for people. We make contact. We’re not afraid.
How do you think John learned this? Well, I believe it was as he was looking up at Jesus on the stake. He realized then that perfect love casts out fear. Jesus loves us enough to die for us. Jesus said it Himself – “Greater love has no one, but to give his life for his friends.” I think John may have thought about the time he and James wanted Jesus to burn people because they were rude to Him. I think he may have seen the disappointment on Jesus’ face. And yet, even though it was hurtful to love John, Jesus still did. With all his faults, John was still loved. I think that’s when John got it.
Well, how does that apply? Well, what this young girl needs to learn is how to love – how to be real, how to take risks, how to put her fear aside. John also said that whoever confesses Jesus, then God would be in him. In John’s day, doing that could get you killed. So, being real and open about Christ was a dangerous thing. So, you really have to love God to get past that fear. But yet, perfect love casts out fear, as we saw.
So, it’s really the same thing. In this child’s life – to her way of thinking – risking authenticity could produce rejection and more pain. But “whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” So she needs to learn how to love. And how is she going to learn to do that? Well, in a way, the same way John did – as he was in relationship with Jesus. So I’m going to sit with this girl week after week and be non-judgmental with her – just like Jesus was. I’m going to do some EMDR with her and remove some of the pain of loss that she’s experienced. And she is, ever so slowly, going to begin to see me as trustworthy. And she’s going, then, to start confiding in me. And I’m going to accept her – faults and all. I’m going to help her find a more adaptive way of relating to people beyond promiscuity and superficiality. The obstacle to that is the pain – or, as it says in the King James, the torment.