When You Want to Return to What’s Familiar

When You Want to Return to What’s Familiar

When Emily and I first started dating she said she was concerned about a mindset I had. I walked around with this feeling of impending doom. I was sure that at any moment God was going to sneak up from around a corner and pound me. It was an odd combination of guilt, feelings of failure, and a just-plain-wrong view of God.

Living in this fear I was really hard on myself. In response, I would always try to control everything. My most common defense was to go on a major cleaning spree. I’d throw everything out. I’d use lots of bleach. I think I subconsciously believed that if I could keep things perfect maybe God would forgo the bad stuff I just knew was coming, or it would at least mitigate the loss that was bound to come.

I’m glad to say that I’ve mostly gotten over that strange and unhealthy mindset.

Except when I’m stressed. Which I have been lately.

I find myself reverting back to weird mindsets and defense mechanisms I thought I had beaten. There are all sorts of reasons for this that I’ll share in a book I’m in the final stages of editing. But the short version is this – it’s a trust issue. I trust my defense mechanisms to protect me more than I trust God.

The Christian life is a process of surrendering our old ways for God’s new ways. That’s where the “abundant life” Jesus refers to begins. It comes when we let go of trying to protect ourselves from our fears and hurts and simply trust God with our lives. Depending on the level of hurt you’ve experienced in life, this can be no easy task.

God wants to give us total freedom. But if we want that freedom we must be courageous enough to identify the defense mechanisms that we use to protect against our greatest fears. Then we must surrender them. We have to allow God to step in and fill the area where our defense mechanisms offer a false sense of solace. We must choose to live open-handedly, not with clenched fists that are holding tightly or ready to fight.

So here’s a question: What are the odd, wacky things you do to protect yourself when you feel something is threatening you? Cut people off? Go into hiding? Start self-medicating? Go on a spree of cleaning or shopping?

See those things for what they are. Then when you start feeling a desire to do them – just surrender. Stop and pray that God will show you what is really going on. Get around safe friends and confess the struggle. Don’t go back to the old ways. Keep moving forward in God’s grace. You aren’t who you used to be. And you are going to be really amazed who you can be – if you’ll stay the course.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18