Do You Know Your Own Personal Defence Mechanisms?
Psychologists teach that each of us has our own personal method of dealing with bad stuff: they call them, “Coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable or negative impulses.”
Here’s a partial list of their favorite DefMechs (Hey! I just coined a new word!) Things like denial, repression, regression, rationalization and all sorts of other methods that they say we use to try and avoid the difficult issues of life. For most psychologists, God has no part in helping us deal with the challenges that life throws our way.
Scott Peck, a doctor, wrote this bestseller. It’s worth a read.
After finishing it, I felt that he could have made the book a lot shorter; the very first chapter summed up the entire book. Actually, the very first three words of that very first chapter clearly made his point . . .
“Life is difficult.”
Dr Peck then shows how we spend a lot of time trying to avoid those difficulties, when in fact we should be facing them, and with God’s help, overcoming them.
Now I’m going to get a little personal. I’ve been pondering my own methods of dealing with stressful (and even fearful) situations. Under the category of fear, I’ve had few brushes with that monster, especially back when I was in the Air Force:
There were other incidents and one accident. At the very beginning of my flight training, still under the watchful care of my instructor, as I practiced simple turning and climbing and descending maneuvers, our one and only engine suddenly quit. Calmly, he took over and we crash-landed with wheels retracted, in a bumpy wheat field. We walked away from it, a bit shaken up. But real fear attacked me 24 hours later with bodily shaking and the question, “What-if?” But pride and macho-ness took over (which I guess, was my defence mechanism!)
My British instructor, standing beside me as we surveyed the damage we had just inflicted upon our airplane, with typical English humor commented dryly to me, “If this had happened in England, the farmer would have been here by now with a cup of tea.”
I wonder if maybe I learned some lessons through those experiences. At some point, humor started helping me cope with tough issues.
Fast forward with me, a whole bunch of years to 2008. Day One of the first All Nations-All Generations DTS in Kona, Donna and I leading, and I’m having some health symptoms. One of the students was a Korean-American cardiologist, Dr Joon Choi (who I had appointed to be my personal heart specialist . . . but that’s another story). Anyway, Dr Joon, upon a brief examination of my condition, prescribed an immediate and urgent trip to the Hospital Emergency Dept.
Following various tests, I was air-ambulanced to Honolulu and another hospital, Dr Joon accompanying me! A carotid artery operation (pretty serious), was scheduled. As I lay there in the pre-op holding room, with Donna by my side, and my daughter Julie, niece Becky and Dr Joon, standing just outside by the Operating Room door, a doctor breezed in and informed me that he was going to give me a glass of champagne. I understood what he meant. A sedative.
Moments later, still conscious, I was wheeled to the OR, pausing to kiss each family member. Finally I came to Dr Joon. Beckoning him to come close, I whispered in his ear, “I have a confession to make.” His eyes widened questioningly, so I continued, “I just had a glass of champagne.” His face got very serious and that’s all I remember. The ‘champagne’ had kicked in and the tricky operation that followed, was a success. Poor Dr Joon never had time to give me absolution!
Five years later. Hong Kong 2013, and a Gathering of 600 Chinese and other Asian leaders. I fell backwards off the rear of a badly-lit, five-foot high stage that had no railing, and was knocked out cold. I recovered concousness in an ambulance, with none other than Dr Joon, my cardiologist, sitting beside me. My first words to him, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this.”
September 2014, Singapore and another medical crisis—blood clots in my leg that required immediate surgery. Upon recovery, I emailed the missing Dr Joon and asked, “Where were you when I needed you?”
OK, now you can analyze me. Was I using humor as a form of denial that I was in dire straights on three occasions? Or was it a defence mechanism to cope with stressful situations? Or is it just part of who I am?
My family sees things a little differently. They think that in times of stress, I go quiet. Maybe it's a mixture of humor and withdrawal.
Prayer, in all three cases, was a huge factor. I know with assurance, that God, along with some of his faithful servants, carried me through all three life-threatening incidents. And I can testify to experiencing very little stress.
I choose to believe that a merry heart is good medicine. [Prov 17:22]
And I’ll always defend that mechanism!
Bottom line is that our loving Father is always ready to comfort us in times when fear fights to take over: the shelter of his arms, the clefts in the rock, the green pastures, the quiet waters. All these and more, are ours.
He alone is our Defence!
You must meet God as he is; not as you might wish him to be.
We need to understand how he sees things. Chuck Missler
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Affirmation and Gratitude toward others, cancel the ungodly diet of lies that Satan constantly spoon-feeds us.
When we long for a life without difficulties, remind us Lord, that oaks grow strong in contrary winds, and diamonds are made under pressure. Peter Marshall
David & Dale Garratt are, among other things . . .
*pioneering modern day worshippers—for the last half century,
*champions of Scripture songs,
*innovators and trailblazers in live worship recordings, and
*releasers of songwriters and musicians . . .
Here’s the captivating website of their history, with lots of digital downloads.
In 1981, the Garratts made a live, two-part worship album on the YWAM base in Kona, Hawaii. Hundreds gathered for three days of recording in The Pavilion, the fanciful name for a tin-roofed, open-sided, echoey structure—anything but a soundproof recording studio. But that didn't matter. The praise and worship was annointed.
This CD . . . and many more, can be downloaded from iTunes.
This is how Eugene Peterson defines ‘family’ in The Message:
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers showed up. They were outside trying to get a message to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and brothers are out here, wanting to speak with you.” Jesus didn’t respond directly, but said, “Who do you think my mother and brothers are?” He then stretched out his hand toward his disciples. “Look closely. These are my mother and brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother. [Mt 12:46-50; Mk 3:31-35; Lk 8:21]
(Or as the NIV puts it, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.")
During the last couple of months the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of the importance of honoring our mothers and fathers, respecting them for who they are. No parent is perfect but God uses mothers and fathers to bring us into the world. Jesus honored his mother even while He was dying on the cross. [John 19:26-27]
I remember our son Pete, who we adopted into our family at three months of age. When he was about eight years old Pete said to me, “Mom, don’t think my mother was bad, she just couldn’t keep me.” We had never talked about his natural mother and father, because we didn’t know who they were or why they gave him up for adoption. We just knew it was God’s will for us to take him as our own. In his heart, that’s how he felt about his birth mother, who had named him Peter.
Another time, Pete told me he didn’t want to find his father, “Because suppose he hadn’t told anybody that he had a son, and maybe now he is a pastor, and that would bring him so much shame.”
We are commanded to respect and honor our earthly parents, no matter what; but at the same time, to honor and walk in obedience to God. "Honor your father and mother—the first commandment with a promise—that it may go well with you and you may enjoy long life on the earth.” [Eph 6:2]
I’m noticing that with people who honor their own parents, their children and their children’s children in turn, honor them. For those who don’t honor the ones that gave them life, it almost seems as though a curse is on them, which can then be passed along to future generations.
Peter’s father was a missionary to the Chinese for 43 years. As a young couple we didn’t understand him and because of pride, we didn’t listen to his stories and honor him for who he was. I believe Peter honored his mother for who she was, but he never saw her again after he was 17. She died at a young age.
Years later, back in the 80s, Peter and I met with an ‘underground pastor’ in China, and it was like sitting with his father. We had revelation that we didn’t honor Peter’s father for who he was and the difficult life he had led. We were deeply repentant. We missed so much for not respecting him and listening to his stories—while he was with us. We thank God for giving us this revelation because now our daughters and their children honor and respect us.
Our son-in-law Vae was born and raised in Samoa. His father was abusive when Vae was young and his mother loved and feared God. Vae and Julie honored both his parents for who they were, and one way he showed it was after his parents went to be with Jesus, they placed a tombstone on their grave, just outside the home in which Vae was raised. Julie said it was beautiful, and very expensive, but Vae wanted to honor his parents. His mother often said, “Love God and love others,” and that was inscribed on the tombstone. Now Vae and Julie are blessed with two sons and two daughters who honor and respect them.
I have seen the same blessings and the same ‘curse,’ when we honor—or when we don’t show honor and Godly respect toward our ‘spiritual parents,’ pastors and other leaders who come into our lives. This also has the same effect upon our children and our children’s children. Loren and Darlene Cunningham have had a powerful impact on our lives over the last 38 years, and we honor and respect them.
With Loren Cunningham recently, younger in years than Peter,
but no less a spiritual father to us and to our family.
Please ponder these things in your heart and ask the Holy Spirit for more revelation. Have you honored your parents (and spiritual parents), here on earth, and are you being obedient to God your heavenly Father?
Love and Blessings,
For more on Honoring, read this article by Dutch Sheets: The Power of Honor: My Experience at the Grave of Charles Finney
For details go to http://www.intouchcamps.net/ywam-associates-europe/
Gray hair is supposed to be a sign of wisdom [Job 12:12], and the wisdom of the elderly is to be passed along to those who ask. But not all who are ripe in years are wise, so be discriminating when seeking wisdom. Don’t go to Hugh Hefner or Zsa Zsa Gabor (married nine times), and expect to be enlightened with Godly wisdom and moral absolutes. Some old gaffers are anything but wise.
Experience and old age are supposed to be what produces wisdom, yet I’ve seen wisdom in young women and men. Experience plus openness, brokenness, vulnerability and humility are some of the true marks of the wise. If life was a card game, wisdom trumps pride, every time.
I heard recently of two spiritual leaders, one older and the other younger, who dispense wisdom through personal prophetic prayer. For a price.
Imagine with me for a moment, the apostle Paul waiting by his ship on the beach at Miletus [Acts 20:17-38], having called for the leaders of the church that he had established in nearby Ephesus, to come so he could encourage them with a word, and to pray for them.
For a price.
I can’t picture it. Can you? Paul called people like that, pedlars [2 Cor 2:17]
And that’s all I have to say about that.
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