Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. – 1 Peter 2:1
When life is not easy, it can cause our emotions to run wild and if not handled with care, it can wreak havoc in our lives. There is no point in denying our personal encounters with difficulties whether it’s illness, relational problems, loss of a job, abuse, troubled children, financial strain, divorce, loss of a loved one, victimization, loneliness, slander and so on. There’s a myriad of problems over which we have little to no control. The question is, what do you do in these times, how do you handle it; what is your go-to place?
Psychology describes any behavior that is designed to protect oneself from unpleasant emotions as a ‘defense mechanism’. Some of the most common defense mechanisms are repression, denial, projection, displacement, regression and sublimation. These are a few of the psychological strategies that we use to defend and protect ourselves when we feel overwhelmed and threatened by our ‘emotions / impulses’, i.e. from the anxiety, guilt or stress that arise from unacceptable behaviors, thoughts and/or feelings. Most of these manners are learned in childhood and are involuntary, not under our conscious control. They rely on certain triggers. What are your triggers?
We need to get curious about our triggers!
When we become aware of the ‘why’, we can unlearn destructive habits and break the cycles. When you’re triggered, ask yourself ‘why did what he/she said or do bother me, or ‘when that happens, why does it bother me?’ More importantly, what is your go-to place; where do you typically go and hide when your trigger pokes you and makes you insecure or defensive? Insecurity, pride and defensiveness make us become wildly different from what God has created us to be. Some times the problems that we encounter are not our fault but it becomes our responsibility to deal with them. Awareness of our trigger is the first vital step to taking that responsibility.
As Christ followers, we ought to go to Him! We must pray for courage to get to the root of the issue and not cover them with ‘defense mechanisms’ or unhealthy ‘go-to places’. When we shape and form something, other than God, to comfort and help soothe us in moments of difficulty and crisis, we commit idolatry. People often go to their ‘idols’ when they get triggered to take away the ‘bad feelings’. Some prevalent modern day ‘idols’ include alcohol and drug abuse (escaping reality); food in excess (emotionally eating to soothe oneself); retail therapy (spending more than you should on things you don’t need); computer/phone (looking for someone to engage with online for some substitute ‘feeling’; pornography sites); wild reckless living (sexual promiscuity, revellings, hateful attitudes, out-of-control behavior) and the like. With time, what we turn to transforms into full-blown addictions and self-destructing lifestyles.
Every crisis we face is an opportunity to turn to God. We can rest in the assurance that God is and will always be our refuge and our strength. Instead of turning to a hiding place or sin or insecurity … turn to God, the source of life! This is how you overcome …
“God will turn your mourning into dancing; He will take off your sackcloth and clothe you with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
God is with you and for you!
Grace and peace,