Power in Love or Power in Fear?
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Good morning! Blessings on your Wednesday!
We had a wonderful time at our Silent Retreat at the Ignatius House on Monday this week. Thank you so much to those of you who because of your presence helped to make it a beautiful day. Presence alone can be so powerful. Our silent retreat reminded us of the power of God’s presence and of one another’s presence.
We learned last week that, in God’s generosity, we were created in God’s image, which means that we were made with power. Imaging God in our power means embodying love in our place. Being fully who you are, where you are, is a way to bring the power of God into all the spaces you inhabit. When people encounter you—your presence—they are meant to wonder about God and ask, “Just who is in charge here…?”
Our favorite expert on godly power at Kaleid is Diane Langberg. Her book, Redeeming Power, is an excellent read. She says, “Godly power starts in the kingdom of our hearts, is expressed in the flesh, and then moves out into the world” in our words and in our deeds.” (p. 11)
Power is not just an active expression of strength; it is a heart-grown expression of love. Sure, owning our power can be an active thing. And sometimes it means being strong on behalf of someone. But at its core, owning our power means meeting the moment with the love of God that we know to be true, deep in our hearts.
How does power go wrong?
Power goes wrong when it flows from fear instead of from love. When power and fear interact, control, exploitation, and even abuse quickly follow.
Can you recall a situation when your sacred space, the field of your God-given power, was violated by someone? Did you feel afraid? Can you also imagine that the other person was somehow motivated by fear…concerned with meeting their perceived scarcity by taking something from you rather than by honoring your dignity and your limits?
When power and fear interact, control follows.
What if we are the stronger party and act from fear? We get bigger than we need to be and try to get into someone else’s very sacred space.
What if we are the weaker party and act from fear? When we are exploited by another, more powerful person, we often lose our self, giving up power in a fearful effort at self-protection.
God made us to be interdependent yet discrete beings with sacred space in between. We were designed to give and receive across that space rather than to yield and to take by erasing that space. Love gives and receives. Fear yields and takes.
Godly power requires a person’s heart to be both vulnerable and safe, which is a tricky prospect in a painful human world. God made a way for us to enter this better way of using our power through the life of Jesus who modeled godly power that flowed from a heart of perfect love.
Because Jesus was safe in God’s love and in his identity as God’s beloved son, Jesus knew that he could also make himself vulnerable to others without controlling or exploiting them, without hiding or manipulating. He could give and receive, and when people turned on him in fear, he did not need to fold in on himself or yield to pressure, nor did he need to grasp or take to try to get what he needed from others.
This powerful love was terribly costly. We know that Jesus was the fullness of the human expression of God in the world—he was the ultimate image-bearer. As he embodied love in the world and took up the space that God intended for him to occupy, he did so from a place of deep security and deep vulnerability. His willingness to offer himself in love, even to become vulnerable to death, was the most powerful testimony to the character of God that the world has ever seen.
Because of God’s love in Christ, we are ultimately safe and so we can bear our power from a loving, vulnerable place, even when that vulnerability is scary.
Learning to live into our power means learning to live into God’s love. It means learning to interact with others in healthy, interdependent ways. It means learning to offer ourselves with authenticity and vulnerability as we learn how to give and how to receive.
May you be blessed this week as you move from fear to love and as you allow God to right size your power so that your sacred space becomes a more trusting, more vulnerable place to be.
1. How do power and fear interact in your life? Are you given to self-diminishment or to self-aggrandizement? Do you more easily take from others or yield to others? What does it look like to move to a posture of giving and receiving as you connect your power to God’s love more fully?
2. Consider this passage from I John 4. What might God want to speak to your heart about love, fear, power, and life alongside others?
The Kaleid Team
P.S. Our next Contemplative Circle “Let Your Life Speak” where we will be listening to God through imaginative prayer with the stories of Old Testament women begins on 5/17! Sign up today!