You know what it's like, someone says something to you or about you, you notice someone doing something you don't like or disagree with, and suddenly there is a knot in your stomach, you feel anger or hurt rising up somehow within you or you imagine some scary consequence and so you react. Not always your finest hour! Then you might even start feeling guilty of what you said or did, or even shame about the kind of person you are ... here I go again ... and soon you can feel overwhelmed, depressed or just resigned to the same stuff happening. Not exactly the glorious, triumphant Christian life God promised you, eh?
Maybe you don't get invited to a meeting or an event or even to help out on a team when you think you should have been. Suddenly feelings of rejection flood your mind, maybe reinforcing that sense of shame you've always battled with, as you add your own script to what you imagine is really happening. Barriers go up and internal vows are made. Or maybe you just see someone and they don't acknowledge you or seem happy to see you and you start to interpret this in your imagination. Maybe you've been working hard at something, expecting just a little appreciation or recognition, but there's nothing, just a sense of being taken for granted. Maybe you accidentally discover that people have been talking about you negatively behind your back, and now it 'feels' like you're being shunned by someone you thought you could trust.
We don't really have any control over these kind of events happening, but what we do have control over is how we respond in ourselves.
Though we may "feel" certain emotions rising up, what inevitably gives them power are thoughts that have become established in our minds. This is why the mind is always the battleground in the spiritual life, and therefore in all of life. It is why transformation is a consequence of changing our minds (repentance), being renewed in the way we think according to Christ. This is hard work because we have a lifetime of living by negative, worldly thoughts. We don't interpret everything 'in the moment' but also through the lens of previous experiences too, often stretching way back into our past. But the good news is that God understands and has made available to us tremendous resources to help in this work.
First of all, God who is Spirit, has taken flesh, being born as a man (in the 'likeness' of sinful flesh - Romans 8:3) and said to us, "I am the truth" and "I came to testify to the truth" (John 18:37). Then he has also sent the Spirit of truth into our hearts and minds, to help lead us into truth! So, as hard as this is, all things have now been made possible if we will trust in God's Word. But we must go further than just saying we believe is we are to be truly transformed and set free.
We must seek to become conscious of who we are, what has shaped our lives both good and bad, and develop some insight into our life experiences, especially those in earlier life that have had the deepest impact in shaping our sense of reality ... including connecting with the pain that has been experienced as a consequence of being let down by other broken people. Remember, Jesus thoroughly understands this having experienced the same and more, and he cares about us!
When you think about a gun, and I am no expert on that despite being from Texas(!), there is more to a gun than the trigger. There is the firing mechanism, the barrel, and the ammunition itself. But without some kind of explosive, there is nothing to propel the bullet towards the target. Others may "pull our trigger", but we have to take responsibility for the kind of explosive material that is within us. Will we be "driven" by the energy of the sinful nature, with all its damaging repercussions, or will be learn to express the fruit of our union with Christ Jesus through the Spirit, by which we are "called" to release kindness, compassion and mercy?
It is through deeper connection with a few trusted believers that we get to assimilate truth. They become a 'mirror' for us, along with God's word, so that we can better know ourselves. This is why we are called to 'prophesy to one another', speaking God's truth in love in a relational environment of love, acceptance and forgiveness. We are all in the same boat, no longer villains or victims for Jesus has dealt with all that on the cross ... do you believe this? It is meant to transform us and transform the world through us. Lord, let your kingdom truth come!
Much love and prayers,