HOW MUCH ENERGY DO YOU USE TO DEFEND YOURSELF?
I really haven’t heard anybody preaching on this theme and I think that you also wonder what I am going to write about now. You know that I am making myself dependent on The Holy Spirit so I am not quite sure what we will be reading either. I am expecting help from The Helper. I will be writing quite a lot about the soul, but quite a few of our reactions come from lack of trust in God and lack of knowledge of who we are in Christ. Both spirit soul and body belong together the same way as God, the Father, Jesus, His Son and the Holy Spirit.
I found my old psychology books in order to read about defense mechanisms. I have never met a person who doesn’t defend himself in one way or the other. I know that most of these defense mechanisms come from our subconscious and you might not quite understand what I am talking about. You might defend yourself subconsciously. If you have a need that is not fulfilled, it might hurt and you want to find an excuse for being in the situation you are. You want to keep a good self-image and avoid pain. One of the defense mechanisms is to deny the fact that something unpleasant has taken place or denying your own pain. In Christian circles we can easily say:” It’s victory.” At home one might cry or one can deny reality. Why do you think so many people suffer with pain in their bodies? Many suffer with undefined pain. One of many reasons is the fact that we neglect painful problems. We do not like pain and we try to avoid them in every way possible. Many do not understand that physical pain can stem from wounds in the soul. I meet people who do not remember anything from their childhood. They have experienced so much evil and it is like a black hole. Do they need to remember these things? No and yes. If these neglected experiences, pain and wounds live their own life in the subconscious, The Holy Spirit should be allowed to heal and deliver what is there. If God wants to do that, it is in order to help you. Whatever He does, is always driven by love.
Another way of defending ourselves is by finding substitute solutions.
You might have a boss that is giving you too much to do or he or she might harass you in different ways. You do not dare to oppose him, but you are both angry and maybe depressed. What are you doing with your emotions? Many are allowing themselves to take it out on others. You might be in a bad mood when you come home or sulky towards those you work with. You are avoiding confrontation with your boss, but you are not dealing with the problem. As a Christian you should forgive the boss, but Titus 2:15 write that we should not allow anybody to despise us. Pray to God for help and wisdom to talk to your boss. If that doesn’t work, ask God for a new job. Do not defend yourself by being bad to somebody else. We can read in extreme cases that people have used the harassment of others as an excuse for violence. It might be very painful to be treated wrongly, but the Lord is ready to help you and comfort you. You might also talk to some Christian friends and you can pray together.
I will mention another example of substitute solutions. If a young man has a low self-esteem, he might not dare to ask the beautiful girl that he likes out in fear of being rejected or hearing his friends say: “Do you really think that this popular girl will go out with you?” When I was young, it was important for me to have a good-looking man to cover my own low self-esteem.
A lot of our actions are governed by a desire of a good self-image and a desire of being liked by others.
I will now go to another defense mechanism, compensation. If one is weak in one area, one will often compensate that by being strong in another area. The weak area will not be so visible then. It can lead to something positive as well. Blind people develop a stronger sense of touch and hearing. Others have become famous painters and musicians. Others might develop unhealthy behavior patterns in order to hide the weak part. Some parents have never been able to fulfill their dreams and they might try to live through their children and they might try to force them to do what they couldn’t. Their self-esteem is increasing when they can brag about their children to others.
A defense mechanism that is widely used is rationalization. When we rationalize, we give an accepted reason for our faith, actions and viewpoints. We avoid giving the real reason if we think that it might cause some discomfort or being non-acceptable. One common example of this is the example called “the sour grapes”. There was a fox desiring some grapes hanging too high for him to reach. When he couldn’t jump high enough, he said: “I don’t want them because they are sour.” He couldn’t admit his failure. We Christians often hide behind God in a wrong way. We would say: “I am sure God didn’t want it.” I am not talking about those times when we seriously have asked for God’s guidance. We might apply for a job, but didn’t get it and you are disappointed, but you don’t want to feel that way and you say: “I really didn’t want the job anyway or God didn’t want me to have it.” I would recommend you to come to God with your disappointments and your pain instead of hiding behind Him in a wrongful way. Another way of rationalization is “the sweet lemon”. When we have tried to get a better place to live, a better job, a new car or any other betterment and doesn’t get it, we might say that what we have now is perfect. It’s nothing wrong with the present situation. We might try to persuade both ourselves and others. If we ourselves are the cause for failure or frustration, it is easy to blame somebody or something else for it. Parents might actually teach his children this from they are very small. The child might fall because he didn’t look around and he falls. One of the parents might come then and hit the chair saying: “The chair is bad causing you to fall.” If we get a bad mark at school, it is easy to blame the teacher for it. Maybe the teacher has a grudge against me. The student might not study enough or just didn’t remember the answer. There are times when a teacher is making a mistake and these cases should be dealt with, but many times they are accused unfairly. This kind of rationalization started already in the Garden of Eden. Eva accused the snake and Adam accused Eve for eating of the forbidden fruit. None of them took responsibility for their own actions.
Why is it so important for us to disclaim responsibility? We want to keep a good self-image and we want others to like us, admire us and look up to us. Most of our defense circles around me and mine. I have not talked so much about sin in this chapter, but more about disappointments, wounds and pain. The fact remains that defense mechanisms might lead to half-truths and real black lies and any kind of lies are called sin. Crime might even be used to hide the original sin in extreme cases. We Christians can defend ourselves using religious terms. I will continue next time. Have much more to say about these things.
ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT TO MAKE YOU AWARE OF YOUR OWN DEFENSE MECHANISMS AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM!