Source image: Photo by Belle Co from Pexels
Last part: Emotional Decision Making
A new community
Some months before publishing this series, my Brother threatened me for an action which I hadn't committed. Fair warning; I've earned every one of my reality checks.
So I became a regular at a local brick & mortar coffee shop. I studied and socialized at the coffee shop for months. I found a caring community who’s showed me God’s love and through this community, I have built a few relationships with people I’ve become acquainted with.
In early November of 2021, I attended a dinner party with three families in the home of the owner of this coffee shop. After eating dinner, all the adults at the table were speaking of how they came to Christ. The spotlight came upon me to describe my own Mother's journey, and even though she's told me a million times, I froze.
I became teary-eyed and exclaimed, “I can’t do this.” and the other adults at the table chimed in and the conversations flowed on until the host said a closing prayer.
Coming from a tumultuous family life, I'd say that it was quite a big deal to attend a dinner party with three familes whom I hardly knew. The thought of becoming vulnerable, talking about these real things from the start, seeing others share their journey with me and everyone else at that table, and openly sharing their emotions - was all surreal.
Why does the dinner party matter? I allowed myself to become vulnerable long enough to realize it wasn't causing me physical or emotional harm. I reached out and things were A-OK. The decision I made to attend this party was one of self-realization.
Think about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
Look it up if you'd like to know more.
Sometimes we think emotions are painful, but our natural process is to allow our self to feel the emotions, mourn if we must, and then move on. This is at least one way humans adapt to adversity.
Allowing myself to become vulnerable among these other families helped me realize that feeling emotional isn't supposed to feel wrong. My own family life was tumultuous enough to the degree that none of us could really speak our mind without triggering each other.
Eventually through re-experiencing the same problems over and again in my own family, I began to subconsciously associate strong emotions with shame. This is counterproductive to the realization that indeed we can & indeed we should be able to move on from sentiments which do not provoke well being.
Though let us not fret about what we may or may not remember; for with God, all things are possible. What I mean is that without God, we will always be searching for love through any means necessary. Mostly I am referring to addictions, but whatever is our placeholder for God's love makes it even more difficult to heal from the devil's influence over our life.
Our life force
The devil will leverage all life force energies humans store. When we rely on the mercy of the devil's unquenchable, insatiable subsistence of these energies, we are left feeling depleted. We'll be encouraged to replenish our corrupt stores of energy with more corruption. It is futile to attempt satiating our earthly desires using the pleasure-reward systems inherent to all mortals.
What's the good news? The good news is that we humans are resilient and can reap the benefits following God's plan instantaneously if we so choose. Our journey with God will be gradual. It has taken me many months to finally break down and realize I am powerless without his help.
What I'm getting at is we're more able to deal with adversity if we are sober & actively seeking guidance. It may not even be God's guidance, but the overarching idea of this series is to introduce God as the Healer of All Pain. Otherwise, we live under the mercy of our pleasure-reward systems as we constantly build our tolerances by overly consuming things that satisfy temporary pleasures.
Through any attempts of satiating our desires, we must deal with the consequences of those actions, in addition to dealing with the adversity that life brings on top of it. Tolerance to drugs, weight gain from overeating, and meaningless sex are all caused by attempting to satiate worldly desire.
To define how satiating temporary pleasures, I frame it as reliving an action-response cycle. We're eat until we're full, get tired, then pop an energy drink, we wake up, we crash, then we eat candy. We get hungry again, so we eat until we're full and the cycle repeats. For drugs, it's getting high, coming down, going about our day, then needing more drugs than last time to get the same high as before - take this example and apply it to any one of our fleshly desires and it makes sense as to how we become a slave to our life forces.
This is what I call "terminal flight." To deny God a seat at the table we've carved out of the wood of the tree He created. To deny God from being with us while we eat, we therefore overeat. To deny God in our relationships, we endure casual and non-committal sex. To deny God in our cars, we can easily justify cutting another person off out of spite. This is "terminal flight."
Perhaps we're mindlessly throwing our self into relationships, without considering the possibility that we're still attracted to people that hurt us, thereby unconsciously forming relationships with abusive people. Perhaps we get so invested with our hobbies that we forget about our pets. Perhaps we start exercising, but it becomes our only purpose in life.
And perhaps we're getting into these action-response cycles to avoid becoming vulnerable with others & with God. Maybe we've declared that our life is everything we've wanted - we have a house, a car, the girl. There's nothing else we need & God didn't do any of these things for us. This is all well & good, but oftentimes we are left, at the end of the rat race, with an empty soul and shallow character.
If you're at that point now, where everything you've worked for has come to fruition by all means - reach out and tell others what it's like. Tell them the ups & downs, the ins & outs. I'll be hard-pressed to believe you're satisfied yet. When we become worldly rich, we also become spiritually bankrupt.
My Father sure was - nothing in this life could satisfy his desire to get richer. Sadly I believe my Father held onto his riches so dearly as do I, because we're afraid of becoming vulnerable. We're afraid of things out of our control. We sought money to help control all variables. The attainment of money is in itself a worldly pleasure, which the devil shall leverage against us.
I believe he was and I am the kind of self-conscious that doesn't just go away with a pleasant affirmation; it's a deeply embedded insecurity and this makes it especially difficult to justify becoming vulnerable.
The familiarity to becoming vulnerable around others may trigger our flight response. If we live in fear long enough, flight will become a normal response to the choices we make, which tend to cause the feeling that we need to escape.
By living in this cycle of terminal flight (not fight or freeze), I was living one step away from being triggered by other people. Whenever I found a reason to escape, I cut ties and abandoned others. This included neices & nephews, brothers & sisters.
For the longest time, I did this without thinking about what I was really doing. I had relationships with people I loved, of whom I abandoned because I was the one afraid. I did not fear God - and so from this pride, I fell hard.
I've always been afraid of becoming vulnerable around others, because I didn't realize I could become vulnerable without actually being taken advantage of. And this is paramount to overcoming the fear of allowing others to hurt us, if they may. Regardless of how others treat us, we must seek vulnerability as a healthy developmental aid.