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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Fear ruins relationships

Have you ever experienced the defensive move of just simply hiding yourself from whatever it is you are afraid of?  I have!  In fact, whenever I get good and scared, I usually run and hide!  Maybe not literally, but internally.  I pull in all my "soft spots" and get deeper into my shell so I can minimize the impact of the thing which I fear the most!  The problem with this is the realization of one fear leading to another and then another, and so on.  If you don't believe me, think back to the last time you heard a noise somewhere in the house.  You are all alone - or at least you believe you are!  Then you hear another.  What happens?  Your imagination begins to believe all kinds of things - magnifying your initial fear until your adrenaline is pumping, heart racing, hairs standing on end and perspiration drops beginning to bead on your forehead.  All because your initial fear, although unfounded, became something you gave into.  

Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.  When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.  God called to the Man: “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.”  (Genesis 3:7-10 MSG)

There are a bunch of "mechanisms" we use to deal with our fears.  Probably the one we are most familiar with is to become defensive.  You put up some kind of "defensive shield" in order to avoid the onslaught of whatever it is you fear the most.  If we are afraid of our faults - we use defensive mechanisms to "deflect" the attention away from us, such as criticism of others.  We think if we can get the eyes off of us, we are going to be okay.  Truth is, we just turn the eyes back to us - as someone once said, "It takes one to know one!"

Another defensive mechanism we use is blame-shifting.  We focus the attention on another, somehow attempting to justify our faults by focusing on the other person in the relationship.  I have to ask - how's that been working out for you?  Does it build the relationship any to point the finger at another? Not likely.  In fact, it usually tears it down, building walls of defense on both sides.  It becomes a he said/she said kind of thing.  

Still another defensive mechanism to deal with our fears is outright lies.  What?  Christians don't lie, do they?  After all, doesn't it say liars burn in the lake of fire?  Yep, it does, but it doesn't stop us from drifting into lies as a means of putting up defensive barriers which we think will keep our true self from being discovered.  Cleverly responded words may conceal the original offense for a while, but in the long run, it is hard to keep up with the lies - even the tiny ones!

Okay, so how do we deal with our fears?  All those fears of being discovered, fears of being wrong, fears of being at fault, etc. - we have to find a solution to the fear in order to stop putting up the defensive barriers!  First and foremost - sin cannot be concealed for long - so stop trying!  One thing is for sure, we can make all kinds of "coverings" for our sin, but sin is still sin.  One way or another, it will begin to reveal itself!  After all, fig leaves wither in time!

Here's another important thing to remember - what you fear, you usually withdraw from.  If you don't go inside yourself, you go inside something else. You stay longer at work, using work as a defensive mechanism to avoid the conflict at home.  You buy and buy, maxing out your credit cards, or spending down your savings - all in an attempt to deal with the fear of something you believe about yourself, but which has not basis of truth in God's image of you.  Whatever it is you withdraw "into", know this - it is a shoddy defense!  Hurt feelings - whether they are hurt because of something someone did to us, or because of something we did to ourselves - need to be dealt with once and for all.  We don't get beyond them until we confess them - concealing them is just not an option.

I know it is easier said than done - right?  Hearing you need to process stuff instead of burying it is nice in theory, but downright hard in practice.  Learning to stay current - with God, with others, and with yourself is something which takes time, but it is worth it!  Guess what - your conscience has a way of exposing to you where it is you are attempting to hide, withdraw, or even conceal something in your life.  Use it to uncover - not to dig in deeper.  Until we are honest with ourselves, we will continue in our same pattern of digging in and holding out.  Until we are honest with God, we will continue to just spin in our misery.  Just sayin!