Thursday, February 15, 2007

Personal Quiet Time

I have noticed, particularly since having a family, that personal quiet time is both something that I long for and that is in increasingly short supply. So, when I was able to set aside some time explicitly for personal reflection, I was quite excited. Personal time not only refreshes my soul, it allows me time to gather my thoughts and gather what the Holy Spirit has been revealing to me over the past while.

This particular quiet time I had devoted to gathering my thoughts about what I had learned from the book "Generation Ex" and how it applies to my life. Since resolving to give this area of my life up to God, I felt the need to have an honest conversation to God about the subject - call it a first step in my action plan for my 2007 resolution.

Pastor Jerry and Nick Bansback, a friend from the Bridge, are both big proponents of using mind maps to organize thoughts for devotion. I had done many-a-mind-maps before, but had never attempted to put "my life" at the centre of the map. Doing so yielded some pretty interesting results!

At the root were four major branches: My New Roles, My Fears, My "Coping Mechanisms" and "Jesus". As I mapped each branch, I realized there was a pattern emerging. On one side was the circumstances of my life (roles and fears) and on the other were two common ways I deal with those circumstances: through coping mechanisms or by entrusting it to Jesus.

Coping mechanisms are sub-optimal habits we develop to cope with circumstance apart from God. Much like how I know I ought to exercise my legs to deal with my knee injury, but often find it much "easier" just to take pain medication, the same holds true for coping with emotional pain.

Entrusting it to Jesus often involves giving up sense of control over the situation. Intellectually, I know that giving it up to God is the better solution, but pride takes over and I subconciously conclude better the devil I know (pardon the pun) and live with the coping mechanism instead. Yet how often is this so utterly unhealthy for us? God after all did create us, and knows us more intimately than anyone else. If there were anybody who ought to know what "normal" is supposed to look like, it would be Jesus. Yet somehow in our twisted minds, we think our circumstances coupled with our "coping mechanisms" is more normal than entrusting the circumstance with Jesus.

Because much of what I reflected on is personal in nature (and this is after all a public forum), I will not go into the details of my nitty-gritty circumstances and coping mechanisms and how it relates specifically to me as a child of divorce. But suffice it to say that when I boiled my coping mechanisms down to their leaf nodes, it revealed cleverly concealed sin. Isn't "just coping" with something without fully giving it up to God just another form of pride?

In meditating on this, God highlighted one particular story in the Bible: that of the bleeding woman of 12 years being healed by touching Jesus' cloak (c.f. Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:22-43, Luke 8:40-56). For years, this passage had boggled me - exactly what is the faith that Jesus refers to in these passages (Luke 8:48, Matthew 9:22)? Is it simply faith that Jesus can heal, or is it more than that? I believe it is more: the woman knew and believed in her heart implicitly who Jesus really was - the Son of Man, and recognized this at a time when it was not widely known. Because she knew this, she implicitly knew that by touching "perfectness", Jesus' "perfectness" would impart on her, and the imperfect would disappear (c.f. 1 Corinthians 13:10). The faith had more to do with the woman recognizing who Jesus is more so than in his "healing powers". Healing was simply a logical result of her faith.

Applying it back to my own life, I draw this conclusion: If I am letting the coping mechanisms help me around the circumstances of life, I am really diminishing who I believe God to be.

Father in Heaven, You are the one who created us, and because of this, you know me more intimately than anyone else. Thank You for giving me this quiet time and directing my thoughts. Thank You for giving me the strength to start dealing with this area in my life that needs work. Help me to understand and recognize You for who You really are. Reveal areas in my life where I am just coping and not fully giving up to You. I confess these areas to you now. I also confess any areas where I have diminished who You are. I pray now that as you help me to take away each of these coping mechanisms you would remind me that You are so much greater than any one of those circumstances. Remind me that because Jesus died and rose again, You have already conquered our fears and we can face tomorrow. Amen.


Nick said...

has been good to read your blogs this year. will be interested to see how this revelation impacts your walk. got to love mindmaps - check out for some online mapping...

Jonathan & Karen Ng said...

A postscript to this post - I found this link on Jen Abbas' web site to be quite insightful - and a relevant contribution to the topic of coping mechanisms: