Every person has been called upon to defend themselves from emotional or spiritual injury, and rightly so. Self-protection is an armor for the soul and especially relevant in our early, developmental years of childhood. It’s imperative to have a safe place to process pain and wounding. In extreme situations, there may even be the need for disassociation – the act of separating or disconnecting mental processes, in order to survive. While it’s true that self-protection quickly morphs into a “self-barricade”, severe dysfunction forces the issue of survival and we may not be left with much choice.
Having been hurt and offended by people over the years, my personal tendency has been to meter out my exposure, thus ensuring my safety. Getting lost in a novel or immersed in my favorite television family, is a non-threatening place, allowing me to remain completely in control while enjoying the interaction of the characters in the story. I have also been prone to leverage the fact that my prayer life is top priority, thus I can opt out of social invites for “spiritual” reasons. Naturally, we need to draw away from others to spend time alone with God and He delights when we do. However, if we are truly being saturated in His Presence, compelling love will release fresh desire in us, to interact with real, live people. God is really good at intervention, His mission being, to rescue us from the liability and danger of isolation.
Last week we talked about how uniquely special we are to God. Inviting the Godhead to have complete access to our innermost being, is the best recipe for growth, healing, and maturity. God can be trusted fully, and He longs to facilitate a greater influx of His Presence, especially in areas where carefully constructed barriers exist. Here it gets a bit dicey, to deconstruct my familiar safe places, and trust God to provide a new place of protection. Being finite, requires that we surrender over occupied places, empty them out so to speak, to create a “vacancy” for the new blessings that our loving God desires to impart. Here are three words that represent this.Inviting the Godhead to have complete access to our innermost being, is the best recipe for growth, healing, and maturity. Click To Tweet
Abundance. Jn. 10:10 An abundant life is one that is thriving in love. The Great Commandment to which we must devote our allegiance is to “love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.” This requires the contribution of trust on our part and a recognition that in every age of human history, the spirit of sonship and the orphan spirit have been in conflict. The one is an internal deposit of the spirit of adoption, by which we become joint heirs with Christ. The other results in no sense of belonging or destiny, ever seeking for a place to call home for the heart. “A father to the fatherless…God sets the lonely in families.” Ps. 68:5-6 Here again, the risk is palpable; dare I trust anyone again? One principle I’ve experienced numerous times: Aborted input from people will diminish my resources, as well as robbing them of being blessed by what I have to offer. Risking wholeheartedness leads to abundance; playing it safe leads to diminishment.
Fullness. Eph. 3:17-19 A closed heart is an isolated heart, with the danger of an independent, self-reliant attitude. The potential for meaningful relationships will be hard pressed to find any depth of soil in which to grow. In this scenario, we are controlling relationships to compensate for our fear of intimacy. The outcome: we are doing to people what we fear they will do to us – rejection. Instead of being rooted and grounded, we are left “field-less”, no room for new planting.
Enlargement. Ps. 119:32 This verse contains a very simple premise. I am better able to run the race when I have an enlarged heart, a growing resource of who I am in Christ. Here is a prayer I’ve often prayed: “Lord fill my heart and mind with all that is of You, and empty me of all that is not You.” Very broad I know, but when the Holy Spirit delivers the answers, He provides very specific targets for growth and maturity in my life. Self-protection is unto a restricted atmosphere. It leads me to say, “There is pain from my past, but I have it quarantined and I intend to keep it in its place.” In reality, unhealed pain from the past is really “present” pain, which seldom travels in straight lines, but tends to circle around behind us. Rather than being enlarged, my life remains engulfed and my heart reach unto obedience, is hindered.
Seldom seamless, relinquishing self-protection involves the acquisition of new skills, and patience to endure the bumps in the road. None of us can perfectly be like Christ in all of our relationships. We will let people down and need to ask their forgiveness. Others will let us down and then it’s our turn to forgive. It’s critical that we fellowship in a healing community. May God grant us discernment to find the right family to match the season we are in. Armor? Here’s the best I’ve found: “Put on the armor of light…clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom. 13:12,14 Christ Himself is our abiding armor.
I’ve made the transition from self-protection to God-protection, many times. It’s an ongoing journey; one of abundance, fullness, and enlargement. Just as Jesus entrusted Himself to God, let us keep the invitation open, giving complete soul-access to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. 1 Pet. 2:23,25 (AMP)