On Fear and Friendship

By on April 27, 2017
Never Unfriended

Excerpt from Never Unfriended

By Lisa-Jo Baker –

The thing about fear is how claustrophobic it is.

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On days when I feel fear pressing in, everything about my life shrinks. While joy makes me want to throw my arms out wide, throw back my head, and grin into the sunshine like a giant oak tree that is waving with abandon at the wind, fear makes me cringe. Fear makes me want to hide.

Fear makes me afraid of my own gifts and name. Instead of sharing them with the world, fear makes me want to dig a hole and stuff all that I am and all that I love deep, down into the dark where no one can get to them.

Fear is a terrible friend.

Fear is wretched at friendship.

And fear is a liar. But a loud and convincing liar that can make it hard to hear anything besides his petty, mean-spirited voice. At the beginning of the most defining friendship humanity would ever be offered, fear yelled, “hide!” and we have none of us recovered:

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” “He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:8-10 (NIV)(emphasis mine).

Fear underlines every one of our insecurities with a grisly, pointed finger and tells us that we are our faults, our flaws, our sins. And then fear tries to erase us. And we are terribly eager to agree.

This is fear’s endgame. To sever our ties to community. Because we were built for friendship.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (NIV).

In the beginning. A perfect, triune friendship. Intimate. Safe. Beloved. Complete. And then God, out of the overflow of this full and satisfying relationship began the work of creation. And on the sixth day, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. . . So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. Genesis 1: 26-27

And God breathed His own breath into us.

Into us God breathed the desire for companionship. Into us God breathed the gift of community. Into us God breathed all the capacity for believing the best about each other, loving others more than ourselves, and making ourselves wildly vulnerable without fear of betrayal.

When I breathe in and out, there it is, right beneath my ribcage, the promise that I am capable of friendship because my very existence, 20 breaths per minute, is drawn from the breath of the God whose entire existence is a living, breathing fellowship of three.

Friendship was breathed into our DNA at the very beginning.

And fear wants to steal it back.

So, instead of a quiet walk with a tender God, fear wants to send us on a frantic streak into hiding. We have since become experts at it. Fear our loudest dictator. Friendship terrifying because it’s the place where fears can come true.

Fear of being hurt. Again. Fear of missing out, being left out, or feeling out. Fear of being the new girl. Fear of including the new girl. Fear of being misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misfit. It’s easy to understand why we women take one look at the friendship landscape pockmarked with an infinity of land mines and say, “heck no!”

I won’t dumb it down.

I won’t pretend the potential for hurt isn’t there. It is. Period. There are no guarantees when it comes to friendship. Except this one:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18 (NIV).

That’s it. That’s the choice. At the end of the day we get to choose who will have the final say in our lives and our relationships: fear or love.

May we recognize fear as a dead end, and love as the only choice that can fill us up. Fill us up so full there’s plenty to spill over into the lives of the people around us. Into the lives of our friends.

Excerpt from Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker. www.neverunfriended.com


Lisa-Jo BakerLisa-Jo Baker is convinced that the shortest distance between strangers is a shared awkward story. She has been the community manager for www.incourage.me, an online home for women all over the world, for nearly a decade. She is the author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood, as well as the creator of The Temper Toolkit and her writings have been syndicated from New Zealand to New York. She lives just outside Washington, DC, with her husband and their three very loud kids, where she connects, encourages and champions women in person and through her blog, lisajobaker.com. She’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @lisajobaker


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On Fear and Friendship