fear

Talitha Cum – Resurrected to New Life – Cold Wax Painting

Talitha Cumi – Resurrected to New Life – Cold Wax Painting

Paralyzed with fear, a person is sitting in the cave. The path passes an abyss. The fear of falling into the abyss keeps her from reaching the summit and flourish. Does this sound familiar?

Angsthöhle * Fear Cave
Angsthöhle * Fear Cave

For everyone there is something else that paralyzes us and discourages us from reaching a goal: Fear of failure? Fear of ridicule? Fear of great responsibility? Fear of not being good enough? Fear of being excluded ? Fear of loneliness? Afraid of what others think of me?

God showed me this picture of my femininity huddled together, paralyze by fear, shriveled and half dead sitting in the dark cave. The abyss is called “false femininity” – women whose lives consists of pink ruffles and drinking tea from delicate china cups with outstretched little fingers. Out of fear of falling into these stereotypes, I did not dare to walk the path to flourishing as a woman.

Jesus called “Talitha cumi!” and resurrected me and my femininity to new life. I could only marvel at how many things automatically changed in the months following. They were an expression of my healing and the new life of femininity Jesus had called me to.

***

Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Mk 5:41

Restoring relational circuits

Restoring relational circuits.

A few weeks ago I blogged about relational circuits. I included some examples of a longer checklist that help us realize whether our relational circuits are on or off. Here are some more examples:

  • My mind is “locked onto” something upsetting.
  • I just want to get away, or fight or I freeze.
  • I don’t want to be connected to X (someone I usually like).

If you answer some of these questions with yes, it means that your relational circuits are OFF.

So what do you do when your relational circuits are off? That was the topic of the last two classes. I quote from a pocket card from www.thrivingrecovery.org that we received, which included a short checklist on relational circuits and steps to restoring our relational circuits:

My goal is to perceive the Lord’s presence, tell Him about my pain, and receive His shalom so that I can get my relational connection circuits back on line.

My strategy is to quiet my body and then talk to God about my emotions and thoughts even if I don’t perceive His presence yet, I invite the Lord to be with me and help me perceive His presence. I tell others how shalom helped me.

The exercises we learned are hard to explain with a few sentences but maybe I can describe them best as a combination of physical relaxation exercise and of quoting biblical truth to ourselves. Usually, in the first part of each exercise the body posture was a representation of tension, fear, anxiety (incl. fast and brief breathing in) while quoting, for example, “Whenever I am afraid …”. The second part would then be a transition into a relaxed body posture (incl. slowly and lengthy breathing out) and quoting “… I will trust in Thee oh Lord.” (Psalm 56:3)

The one mentioned above is called the “Fear Bomb”. Another one is called “First Aid Yawn” which starts in the First Aid position and includes yawning. Both belong to the group of “Shalom to my body” exercises, aiming at quieting my body (as mentioned in the strategy statement above).

The next two steps for restoring my relational circuits are, in my perception, somewhat similar and are called “Shalom to my soul” and “Lament with God”. In both cases I talk with God about my situation. I found it interesting to learn that talking to God about the other person that I am upset with will not help, but will keep my relational circuits off. I need to talk with God about my own emotions and thoughts (in Shalom to my soul) and about sad things that grieve both God and me (in Lament with God).

Shalom to my soul” is a personal prayer that follows in certain aspects the pattern of many Psalms. It includes describing how I feel at the moment, thoughts that come to my mind when I think about the problem, and what keeps me from experiencing God’s presence. Towards the end, I express how I perceive God at the moment, what I need from him, but at the same time remembering special moments with God in the past and my favorite Bible promises that have helped me in the past. The prayer finishes with asking God to remove barriers that keep me from knowing God’s presence and receiving his shalom.

Lament with God” reflects on the question what good things God wants me to have but that did not happen in this particular situation. This is then formed into a prayer, where I express what exactly are the negative things that happened and were contrary to God’s good plan, by saying: “I am sad that there was …… instead of your gentleness / kindness / mercy / forgiveness / justice / wisdom / comfort. I am saddened like you are. I really need your gentleness / … / etc. to create belonging.” An interesting aspect in this was, that focusing on sadness helps to become relational again and find shalom, while a focus on fear and anger would not be helpful.

The last step, which we will probably address in the next class, is called “Grow my shalom” through appreciation exercises.

All of these are steps to help me have “Godsight” – seeing myself and others like God sees them – and thereby turning my relational circuits on again. I will write more on what Godsight means in another post. [N.B. 2015 – recently they started using the term iSight as in Immanuel Sight instead.]

Fear or love

I just started reading “He loves me!” by Wayne Jacobsen. In the third chapter he brings up the question of what motivates us to follow Jesus – fear of hell or love for God. Unfortunately, it is true that there are many people who believe that a clearer vision of hell would motivate us to be more mission-minded. In the past this approach to evangelism has probably worked fine. But it is a pertinent question what kind of Christian this approach will produce when their conversion happens out of fear of hell.

When I thought back of my own conversion experience, I realized that fear of hell was not a major factor, but fear to miss out on something important all the more. This was partly rooted in the drawing that the evangelist showed me (which I found very helpful and have often used myself) – the broad road leading away from God, no matter whether it is paved with small or big sins, on the other side the narrow road that leads to God, and the door that connects the two roads – Jesus, the door to eternal life. At that time it really seemed to me as if this doorframe was throwing its shadow on my path, inviting me to change my direction of life. A unique chance? Maybe. Nobody can know when there will be another situation where God speaks into our lives and touches our hearts.

Unfortunately, I also realized that, there is a pattern in my life. I had to admit that there are things in my life that are often motivated by fear to miss out on something. Who knows when I will get this opportunity again? In this way, I often cram things into my life, that are not beneficial and are causing needless stress. But one does not want to miss out on things, right?

Along a similar line was the fear to miss God’s will for my life – if I don’t listen well enough, I might miss it and then take the wrong path. Then I might have to travel on the wrong track for the rest of my life and would miss God’s blessings and the fullness of life. <ironic>

When I think about it, I realize that these patterns of thought are – or better – were in my life. I notice that they don’t quite fit with how I experienced God during the last few years. Of course, there are situations were we might miss something important because we can’t make up our minds or we procrastinate a decision. But God does not motivate us through fear. Through the Life Model I became more aware over the last two years about the difference between love-based and fear-based relationships. As a result this kind of situation happens less and I am thankful for it.

What can I learn from this? Wherever my motivation is rooted in fear, most likely it does not come from my heavenly Daddy. I want to learn to be even more sensitive to this and realize earlier when I am driven by fear instead of motivated by love (which reminds me of the book “Getrieben oder Berufen” meaning “Driven or Called” which is the German title for “Ordering Your Private World” by Gordon MacDonald).

God is not interested in our sacrifices but in our obedience, one out of love, for who he is, out of joy over our relationship with him, and because this relationship is precious to us.