Love, love, and once again, love of God – there is nothing greater in heaven or on earth. The greatest greatness is to love God.

990 St. Faustina


Happy the soul that knows how to love unreservedly, for in this lies its greatness.

997 St. Faustina

Obedience out of fear verses obedience out of love is the difference between slavery and freedom. It is a subtle difference as fear sometimes holds people captive calling itself love. But fear is not love. As the Bible says, “perfect love casts out all fear.” (John, 4:18)

I was a fearful follower of Christ all through High School. My actions were dictated by staying out of trouble, keeping my head down, and rolling over for anyone who asked something of me. I went to mass every morning before school, and I tried to say my prayers at night, but I did so out of fearful obligation to God and his rules.

I hadn’t learned for myself how to love him. I still saw him as this larger than life dictator judging my every action. My fear was paralyzing. It was also heartbreaking. I couldn’t figure out how I could do everything right, check off the list of good deeds, and still feel so empty and broken.

After years of being the girl who was “just too nice” I finally cracked. I couldn’t sustain good deeds driven by fear. Fear of saying no, fear of hurting others, fear of being selfish, and fear of offending God.

Looking back I just laugh at my poor, helpless High School self trying to get it right. It is a sad laughter. The kind that’s full of longing, wishing I would have just seen what I see now.

I thought I was loving God. I thought by rolling over for others I was loving them. I thought I was doomed to this “martyr” way of life where I was obligated to give up everything, and in return I would get nothing.

But love. Love is so much better. Loving God and obeying him because you love him is the most rewarding thing in this world. If I would have went to mass because I loved God, or read the Bible so I could see how much he loved me, or loved others because I could see God in them, then my life would’ve been 10x more fruitful than it was. All my good deeds out of fearful obligation were lacking the all too important ingredient of love and therefore, they meant very little. That’s why they left me empty.

These quotes by St. Faustina are so beautiful. Everything should be done out of love for God. My whole life changed when I finally understood this perspective (like last week), and I’m still grasping at it trying to re-learn it everyday.

It is a difficult lesson. Love doesn’t come as easily as I thought it would. Love still includes suffering and hardship, but it sets us free from the slavery of these things. Love is so much more invigorating than fear.

This is the oldest lesson in the book. The Bible is full of quotes about love vs fear, and I couldn’t tell you why it’s taken me this long to actually understand. Fear clouded my judgement. Fear kept love from entering my heart. Thank God for opening my eyes.

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  1. I’ve learned through the years we are meant to learn lessons when it unfolds in the time God has planned.
    Your writing is so honest and thought-provoking. It made me look back at times when “the light bulb” lit up for me.
    Mary Jo

    1. You’re so right. It’s always nice when those light bulbs finally turn on!

  2. Well done, my sweet niece. Don’t give your high school self such a hard time. Realize that you will have a new revelation in about five more years or even tomorrow. The most important thing is that you are staying true to yourself by constantly analyzing what it means to be Catholic and serving God. I love watching you grow and growing with you in the process. Love you!

    1. Thank you! Love you too!

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