HOW MUCH ENERGY DO YOU USE TO DEFEND YOURSELF?
I do know that what I am writing about defense-mechanisms is only an introduction to this theme. The purpose is that you should be more aware of your own reaction patterns. I ended last writing by explain how we go back to an earlier stage in our development when we want attention or meet certain difficulties. The Bible says that we should become like children, but it doesn’t say that we should become childish. I unfortunately meet quite a few of adults with a childish behavior. It will happen when they defend themselves against a real attack or an imaginary one or they might just have a need to be seen and heard. This is the case both for believers as well as non-believers.
Today I will start with fantasies and day-dreaming. Through fantasies and day-dreaming we get satisfaction for things we are denied in real life. When I use the word deny, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular person actually has refused us things, but it could be that the circumstances are difficult. You might not get a desired job, being rejected by one you were in love with or avoiding to live out your sexual desires. Many are having short-lived sexual satisfaction through their fantasies. Today many are sitting in front of their computer watching pornography. This is creating fantasies and images that they would not live out in the real world. When I was a child, I went to church and the pastor confessed the sins that we do in thoughts, words and deeds. Our fantasies can be sinful and when they are, they should be confessed as sin.
How can we decide the normality of our fantasies and day-dreaming? It depends on the extension and the intensity. When one is really sick, it could be difficult to know the difference between real life and the imaginary one. If that is the case, one is in danger to enter into a psychosis. We have lost contact with reality then. We are already in danger if our day-dreams take a big portion of our time and if they are giving us more satisfaction that reality.
If we have been rejected, we might dream about a dream-prince who adores us and say only nice and wonderful things to us. Can’t you see him coming on a white horse with a big bunch of flowers? We try to avoid the pain of rejection and think about ourselves as loving. A person avoiding school, might be sitting at home thinking he or she might get very good grades at the next exam. He doesn’t think about the shirking. Day-dreams and fantasies might also be very scary and unpleasant. They might take forms of nightmares.
How can we Christians discern between daydreams, visions and faith? I seriously do not have all answers to that, but the answer lies partly in your relationship to God and the Word. If you are used to be with God and read the Word regularly, you will know His will. You know when He speaks and if it is according to His Word. Day-dreams should not be an escape from reality, but a beginning of a vision given to you. If God has spoken to you, it must be in accordance to the Word and you should know what to do and when. God’s visions might meet a certain opposition, but if it is God, resist the devil and stay steadfast in faith.
All withdrawal is not a defense-mechanism. There are times when one is so emotionally involved that it is healthy to make a slight withdrawal from the situation or the person in order to see more clearly. We have an expression: “I will sleep on it.” When we say that, we mean that we need some time and distance before we make a decision. One is hoping to see more clearly the next day. This is especially important when one stands before an important decision. I am therefore not talking about this kind of withdrawal.
I will try to give you some examples of withdrawal as a defense-mechanism. I remember when I attended Bible school and the principal said: “If I see you reading the Bible in every intermission, I will contact you.” What did he mean? Is it wrong to read the Bible? Naturally not, but he didn’t want that students with a fear of men should hide this behind a religious mask. He wanted everybody to build relationships and get to know others. The Lord can deliver and heal us from fear and you might contact a counsellor if that is your problem.
Others feel inferior. That might result in a superficial behavior and you feel that you never get to know the person on a deeper level. The person is not so sick that he or she doesn’t leave the home, but hide behind a self-made defense. Such persons can give an impression of formality.
When one has experienced something very traumatic, it is quite common to avoid parties and other social affairs. When one is in grief, this is quite common and even recommended at times. It is normal to have a time of grief. This doesn’t become a problem before the person isolates himself for a very long time and refuses to see others.
In my work I have met people with so much fear and they do not dare to leave the house. Some people do not dare to use official means of transport. Some are very afraid of meeting new people. When you isolate yourself over a long period of time, you run a risk of becoming very depressed and slowly loosing contact with reality. If one is apathetic and lacks interest for others, it could be a sign of defense-mechanism. Some people withdraw into a sickness. I do not believe that they do it consciously, but the disease creates a certain excuse or security for the person. I must say that this is only in certain cases and far from every person who is sick.
Defense-mechanisms in general.
When the problems are relatively small and we do not have great problems in our personality, defense-mechanisms can actually ease the level of stress within us. We are having a problem when defense-mechanisms are the means of solving a problem. That might lead to stereotype behavior.
One is often using defense-mechanisms to ease the level of anxiety. Defense-mechanisms might create a better feeling and help to ease the uncomfortable symptoms, but can never take away the root of the problem. They will rather cover up the real problem. This can lead to a sickly behavior and that person really needs help.
We are all defending ourselves more or less. As Christians we really shouldn’t need it. We are unconditionally loved by our Daddy in heaven. We should trust in Him, knowing that He is for us and not against us. If we trust in Him, we should feel safe. He has the solutions for our problems. He can help us with anxiety, inferiority, insecurity, bad relationships and so on. I have written a book about these problems and how we can get help. Do we need to be loved and liked by everyone? Why is it so dangerous to confess one’s mistakes? Why do we want to hide our vulnerability? Don’t we all have that in common? I believe that we would reduce our defense-mechanisms if we would be more honest with ourselves and others. We use so much energy to keep a mask and forget that it is only a mask. I quite often hear people say that they don’t care how people are as long as they are real and honest. I have attended churches where we have been requested to keep a certain “mask of faith”. The truth was that many had a mask, but it was not full of faith. Faith is according to Hebrew 11:1 the evidence of things not seen. The mask was in order, but not the content. I do not think that we should tell everybody about every little detail in our life, but be much more open and honest than we are today.
USE LESS ENERGY IN DEFENSE AND MORE TIME WITH YOUR HEAVENLY DADDY AND YOUR SISTERS AND BROTHERS IN FAITH!