Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

Thumbprint cover of Coraline

Coraline was written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean.


Coraline Amazon Link

Synopsis: Coraline is a story about a young girl who moves into a flat with her mother and father.  Her parents and neighbors are too preoccupied to have any real interaction with her, and she is lonely. While exploring the new flat, she finds an alternate version of her life consisting of an “other mother” who wants her to stay with a promise to love her. Coraline declines given the “other mother’ is creepy and has buttons as eyes. Coraline soon realizes that her parents are missing, and she must outwit her ‘other mother’ to find her parents.  In the process, she also must set free three trapped souls of past children the ‘other mother’ had promised to love.

Discussion (how to help a child who struggles with fear):

A few years ago, I took a class on Discerning Charisms.  During this class, I got to meet with a coach to help me narrow down specific charisms (What are charisms? See my post here).  During my coaching session, I explained how I was experiencing fear.  My coach asked if I knew the antidote to fear, according to the bible, which I didn’t.  He quoted:

1 Jn 4:18: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

The antidote to fear is not courage, but love.

I struggled with this bible quote because I didn’t understand how love could remove my fears. This book helped me understand how love could cast out fear. Right before Coraline goes back to her ‘other mother’ to rescue her parents, a cat questions why she would go back. Coraline answers, “I’m going back for them because they are my parents” (pg 57). Her entire purpose, at this point, was to help her parents. Children have a great love for their parents. To love another is to will good for the other person (CCC 1766), our actions become all about what is best for the other person.

When I think about my fears, it becomes all about me. One of my greatest fears is public speaking. Why? I don’t want to say anything wrong. I don’t want to humiliate myself in front of other people. I don’t want to be boring, and people are forced to sit there and listen to me. I want everything about my speech to be perfect and impressive, something people will remember. All of these things are about myself and how I will be perceived. My fears have nothing to do with other people and what is good for them. Since I am not concerned about other people, there is no love in my fears.

Coraline was not afraid to approach her ‘other mother’ because she wasn’t there for herself. She didn’t care what happened to her. Her only focus at this point was saving her parents.

2 Tim 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Many times our fears come from thinking we have to be perfect. We don’t have to strive for perfection, we just need our intent to be solely about the other person. This is how we are “perfected in love,” and God will be with us:

Is 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

I have a daughter who really struggles with being shy (borderline to having public anxiety).  I encourage her to make interactions with other people about them. Try to make them feel good and spread God’s love to them. If your intent is to brighten their day, I don’t think you can go wrong in anything you say or do to that person.

Side-note: Fear of the Lord

You might be thinking, “Isn’t Fear of the Lord a gift of the Holy Spirit?” given in Isaiah Chapter 11.


Doesn’t Proverbs 9:10 state, “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom?”

If fear is the lack of love, then why is ‘Fear of the Lord’ a gift from the Holy Spirit?

Some interpret ‘Fear of the Lord’ to be afraid of God’s punishment.  Modern times have changed this gift to be called “Wonder & Awe,” as this is not so misunderstood. You can read the details about this gift at:

Catholic Answers: “Fear of the Lord” Is a Beautiful Thing


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