Killing My Coping Mechanisms
For the last decade or so God has been taking me on a journey of killing my coping mechanisms. I didn’t realize that’s what He was doing at first, but slowly I became aware of how I was numbing my feelings. I was numbing any discomfort. Like many people, life had thrown me certain curve balls and I hated feeling pain, sorrow, and regret. Since I didn't know how to process those feelings, pain quickly turned to despair, sorrow to depression and regret to condemnation. So I was determined not to feel any of that and learned how to numb my feelings. But as I learned from listening to Brene Brown, to the degree that I numbed my pain and sorrow I also numbed it’s opposite. I didn’t feel anything I didn’t want to, but I also didn’t really feel happiness, joy, or love. I found myself walled up in my own heart and living in state of numbness. No one could get close enough to really hurt me, but I wasn’t really living either. God has brought me so far in this journey. I strive to live a life of vulnerability and authenticity which has meant unlearning many of my coping mechanisms. By that I mean when things were going on that I didn’t like, I had certain ways I would numb the pain. All my life tv has been one of my go to’s for checking out when I didn’t like how I was feeling. I do enjoy watching tv and getting sucked into the imagination of it all. I now have set aside times when I catch up on Blacklist, Once Upon A Time, two of my favorites, and other shows that are so fun to watch. But when I am tempted to sit on the couch and watch something that doesn’t bring be joy, but rather helps me check out from what I’m feeling at the moment, I’ve learned to put down the remote and ask God to help me feel what I’m feeling. For me a lot of times I don’t even know what I’m feeling. That may sound silly but it hasn't come natural to me. I remember years ago I had a counselor who asked me how I was feeling and I told her I was offended and gave a description of what was going on. She tried to explain that that’s not how I felt but was describing what was going on around me. I didn’t get what she meant. Now looking back I know in those times I was feeling invisible, overlooked, or forgotten. Then I couldn't identify what I was feeling. Even now I keep a copy of soul words on my phone for times I’m having trouble putting a name to what I’m feeling. I’ve come to believe that not being able to identify what we’re feeling is actually something a lot of people struggle with. In our culture there are so many ways to numb anything uncomfortable that many of us simply have to learned to not let ourselves feel what we’re feeling, let alone know how to name it. This morning I was tempted to numb a feeling I didn’t like. Once again I felt God laying on my heart to pray and believe and hope for something that I don’t want to pray, believe or much less hope for. It seems too big, too far off, and too impossible. This morning I found myself wanting to live a life marked by His hand, His miracles and His leading, but I didn’t really want to do the work it takes to have that life. I didn’t want to have to sit in uncertainty. I didn’t want to have to trust Him to guide this day, this month, let alone this year, knowing if I trust Him, it must be unconditional trust. Trusting Him means following wherever He leads. So this morning, as I opened up Draw the Circle (the book my small group is currently going through) and
went to read Day 17 “Do Not Delay”, I found myself getting up to reorganize my desk, and clean out this cute Lucille Ball planter that was once my Gma’s. I saw the title and immediately felt uncomfortable because something in me didn’t want to ask God to not delay. Something in me was scared to hope and believe in this prayer because something in me was doubting He will answer.
This morning I realized that I still had remnants in my heart that doubt the goodness of God and are waiting for the other shoe to drop… So I forced myself to leave my desk alone, sat down my cute planter, opened the book, and identified what I was feeling. I told God I was anxious. Something in me was afraid to ask Him not to delay and something in me was afraid He wouldn’t come through for me. In the past I’ve struggled a lot with being afraid that I didn’t hear Him, but today, my heart was questioning His love for me in the specifics of the dream He’s given me. I feared that I was unimportant to Him and was tempted to think it’s too much to ask. And at first, I didn’t want to let myself feel this so I was numbing, and the numbing and the busyness was actually enjoyable. But then once again He reminded me of my heart’s desires to live and experience this life to the fullest. He reminded me that He’s been teaching me how to kill my coping mechanisms and asked me to pull out my computer and work out what’s going on in my heart. And then I felt Him asked me to share it by putting it on my blog. Ugh, I thought...
At first I felt exposed but then in light of God’s goodness and realizing I’m not the only one who is wrestling with their coping mechanisms today, the dread turned to excitement at the possibility of being used by Him. So, if today, you find yourself reaching for that cookie, beer, novel, remote control, phone, computer, friend, significant other, or whatever possible good thing you turn to and use as a coping mechanism, you’re not alone. I reached for a token from my late grandmother in an attempt to not feel forgotten by God. But when I put it down and sat in His presence, I was once again reminded that He loves me. Oh my goodness does He love me. And He directs my path and speaks to me all day long if I will listen. And He is the one calling my heart this morning to ask Him not to delay. He wouldn’t have brought it to me today if He hadn’t given me the faith to pray and believe that He is moving heaven and earth on my behalf because I am His child. Today I am also praying over you, as you read this. I'm asking God to kill your coping mechanisms. I’m praying that where the enemy of your soul is trying to tempt you not to feel and not to run to the heart of God, that you will clearly hear the voice of The One Who Loves You Most calling you toward Him. I’m praying that instead of reaching for something that very well may be a good thing but you like to use to numb the discomfort, you’ll instead stop, identify what you’re feeling and take it to God so He can speak to your heart in the way you need. And I’m praying all this in His matchless and powerful name, Jesus. Amen.