Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

When my Grandma’s sisters Theresa and Elsa both married into Jewish families in Nazi-Germany, the best thing they could do was to board a ship, cross the Atlantic Ocean and start a new life on the other side of the globe. War refugees in South America, they later moved on to the United States where they settled in California.

My Mom was my Grandma’s youngest daughter. Growing up in the aftermath of a lost war was tough. Germany licked its war wounds and went about rebuilding its bombed cities. New buildings rose out of the ashes. Food was scarce.

Meanwhile, Theresa and Elsa had established their businesses in California and were doing much better than the rest of the family. So they offered to vouch for any young family member deciding to join them in the US. My mother and her sister accepted their offer and arrived in California in the late fifties. Soon my mother met my Dad. They fell in love and got married. Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last. Not long after I was born my parents divorced.

When I was almost three years old my mother made up her mind to move back to Germany. That was scary to me. It seemed that I had lost my Dad twice – first when my parents got divorced, second when we left California for good. The only connection left were his letters that came monthly with the child support.

Years went by in Germany and then my mother got married a second time. The male role model that moved in with us was a complete disaster. The marriage lasted five years. It was hell. As the physical abuse became life-threatening, my mother filed for divorce. I was twelve years old at the time, and I became more and more withdrawn. Guys were a red flag for me. I was afraid of them and had absolutely no intentions to go on a date.

Thankfully, I was able to overcome my fear of men in the course of time. Strange but true: I got rid of my fears by fearing the Lord. This may sound like one bad thing is replaced by another, but in all reality the tables were turned when God began to matter in my life. Meeting God has totally changed my perspective. Demons shrink in the sight of the Lord Almighty; self-erected walls break down; my world gets bigger and my fears get smaller. Case in point: In my late 30s I finally started dating and ended up marrying the kindest guy you will ever meet! Bill and I have been together for more than a decade now, and we love our marriage.

It’s a weird feeling at first when something that has bothered you for so long is gone. It leaves sort of a vacuum. I can say that the Lord has filled this vacuum with plenty of love and peace. The more love we let in the less fear we will have; actually, there is absolutely no fear in love. Love counteracts fear and drives it all out. Love rules! To quote Dolly Parton:

“I wish to you joy and happiness
But above all this, I wish you love!”

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