Reflection: Isaiah 40: 28 – 29, 31; Hebrews 11: 23 – 25; 12: 1 – 3.
Last week, as a missionary friend was describing the recurrent symptoms of one her church members, who had resisted any earlier help, I felt her behavior patterns sounded familiar to me. And as I had some free moments, I offered my services, on condition that she would be willing to see me at short notice, and be honest in response to my probing. She was on her mobile in a jiffy, and surprisingly an appointment was set up that evening. Surprising, because this young lady is an extremely private individual. The missionary was present to facilitate language translation within each session.
What transpired was like attempting to peel an onion’s skin; each sensitive layer revealed a traumatic event with its accompanying emotions (Matt 5:4). A couple of these incidents she had kept under wraps since her childhood as a result of shame and guilt, even though none of them were directly attributable to her own wrong doing. Her fears had entrapped her for over 20 years. Although she knew her behaviour was abnormal under elevated stress levels, having lived with it through adulthood, she had normalized its abnormality, thereby not needing to seek external help. The sad outcome is an anxiety-ridden life with its range of physiological symptoms.
God created us in imago Dei, bearing His image (Gen 1:26-27), with the windows to our souls focusing on Him (Acts 17:28; James 4:8), and with a level of relational transparency in the Christian community (1 Cor 12:18-27; 1 Pet 3:8-9). A clear conscience in all circumstances would be another description of this mindset. However, when we bury unpleasant incidents that had traumatized us deep within our consciousness, our personality becomes warped as time passes, thereby degrading the imago Deo in us.
On this occasion, she was in the midst of a highly stressful situation. God’s timing is perfect and His appointments for each of us is impeccable. In responding to His prompting to listen, was God’s appointment for her to start coming to terms with her traumas. Perhaps her imprisoned secrets are safer with a stranger? Despite her fears, it was the beginning of coming to terms with herself, and for the first time, gaining some insight and understanding of her crippled way in perception on life. Thankfully, we have God and He always takes the first step with us, when we allow Him to do so (Matt 11:28-30).
We are not often aware of our own peculiar idiosyncrasies. When they are benign, most would turn a blind eye to them. However, if they are not, that is the reason God has put us in community; so that others who love us, are able to identify them and help us overcome the deficiencies that can hamper our growth in many aspects of life in Christ (Gal 6:2; Eph 5:1-2; Phil 2:1-5). Perhaps somewhere in our hearts there is pain from loss and grief that we have yet to fully face. Ask God to give us courage to face those places of pain so He can comfort us. We need to learn to open those windows of our souls to trusted members of our Christian community, to humbly seek help when required (Heb 11:23-25), so that we may more effectively contribute to the body of Christ.