I have the privilege of blazing new trails each Sabbath with an amazing group of very creative women. Recently we were challenged to meditate on love and how love is manifest in our lives. As I sat quietly with open heart, a profound revelation slowly bubbled up to my consciousness.

I have long desired to BE love, not just do nice things and act loving. For my first reaction in any situation to be love, for my default to be love, instead of some dogged effort to act loving. I have prayed for a new heart, a heart of love.

The epiphany I received that day was that we are already love.

We, the crown jewel of God’s magnificent creation, were made in His very image – and that image is LOVE. The very core of our being, from the moment of conception, is love. Hardwired in our DNA, our very essence is love.

Why, then, is love so little seen and manifest in our lives and actions?

Bottom line, our un-loving responses to life’s dailys are not really triggered by the other person’s aggression or hostility. We have plenty of love – already – for every person we’ll ever encounter. The trigger is fear, plain and simple. Like barnacles on the side of an old wooden boat, we are covered with the pain and reactions of a million experiences where we felt fear, then operated out of a place of shame, fear, and inadequacy.

In practical terms, our core of love is veiled in fear. If we would stop in the face of any unloving response and ask, ‘What am I afraid of?’ perhaps we could begin to unpack the lack of love we manifest so often.

We are cut off in traffic and feel a rush of rage. ‘What am I afraid of?’
Your spouse is rude and you feel indignant and unloving. ‘What am I afraid of?’
A friend betrays a confidence…anger crashes through the door. ‘What am I afraid of?’

Fear of injustice, fear of pain, fear of abandonment, fear of embarrassment.
Fear of being taken advantage of, fear of being wrong, fear of being hurt.
Fear of not having enough –
enough resources,
enough energy,
enough interest,
enough help,
enough time.

Fear has a thousand faces.

If these fears did not exist, how would you react? To the person cutting you off, the rude cashier, your angry spouse, your annoying boss? If you lived a fear-less life, how peaceful would your life be? The love central to your being could shine, a candle lit in your soul from the moment of your being.

I’ll be the first to admit – it’s not easy to release these automatic responses so deeply ingrained by our conditioning, choices and withdrawal. The first step, of necessity, is to identify our fears and how they play into our reactions. By uncovering the covert issues, we can begin to let go of the gripping fears that throw a dark curtain over the beacon of love already vibrant at the root of our being.

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

Ann Halim is editor of eWeekend Newsletter for the College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.