Posted by: Kris Lindsey | May 25, 2013

Why So Defensive?

As part of my quest to find joy, I set aside some time to meet with God. I turned on my favorite praise music CD, settled into a comfortable chair, and let the lyrics draw my focus to my Heavenly Father.

Yes, Lord, You are Mighty. I thank you for all you’ve given me, and for being here with me now.

The music filled my heart and drew me closer to my Savior.

“Lord, you know about my quest to find joy. Would you please help me relax and teach me how to rejoice?”

The music pulsed on, coaxing me to let go and open up. I told my shoulders and chest “relax.” But when they started to let loose, I felt vulnerable and clamped them back up again.

“Okay, God, what’s going on here. Everything in my life is going well now, so why does relaxing make me feel unsafe?” Suspecting some unresolved issue, I decided to spend the rest of my prayer time asking God to bring to mind times in my past when I had been tense.

From the bully on the block to my seventeen-year stomach problem; from my diligence to be on constant alert as a parent to the time our home was destroyed in a natural disaster, I evaluated my feelings about each situation as they came to mind.

In every instance I found I’d already dealt with and resolved the issues. If my feelings had been hurt, I’d forgiven everyone involved, including myself.

However, as I relived each event, it felt like my muscles were still bracing me for an emotional blow. I’m no psychologist, but it seemed to me that although I’d resolved the issues in my mind, my muscles hadn’t gotten the memo. They were still in defensive mode.Armour 2

So, as I pictured myself in each setting, I said, “It’s all right. It’s over. I’m safe—I can let my guard down. Jesus is my strength and my shield now.” Then I imagined myself taking off a heavy armored jacket, and God replacing it with a light linen robe.

As the weight of each jacket came off, I felt my body relax a little more, and the room brighten a bit. I could tell my muscle-guard didn’t come completely down, but it was a good start.

Now I’m still telling my body to relax throughout the day. It’s getting easier, but it’s still a fight. I’m excited to see how God helps me next.

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Responses

  1. It’s so true. Past experiences dampen our ability to trust and relax. It is an art to be on gaurd in the world (as commanded to be in Ephesians) and yet be tender and vulnerable before the Lord. I read a quote by Beth Moore:
    “Thinking how often a hard heart is a memorial stone to someone we resent. Oh to place it on Christ’s altar & risk tenderness again”

    How I long to be dance free in full trust that Jesus will never leave me or forsake me! Praying that be both will gain this heart and will be able to abound in the joy He alone gives. – Lauren Wiley

    • Lauren, I think you hit at the heart of the matter–trust. I think as I learn to trust Jesus more and more, it will get easier and easier to relax in His loving arms. I like your prayer that we dance free–fully trusting in Jesus, and will be praying it for us, too. Great to hear from you–I so wish we lived closer!

  2. I live with daily reminders of past financial loss. Over a decade later, I still can’t seem to get back on solid financial ground. I’ve thought, once this is paid off or after the next raise or with this nice tax return. But it’s never been enough. We live a simple life and are still unable to make up from the past financial blows. I have found that reminding myself of the endless blessings in Christ is the only way to conquer these constant reminders of past defeat. No amount of “armor” or mental readiness to fight in my own strength is enough. Thanks for the reminder to drop the armor and to robe ourselves in Him. Please pray for us and for the book God has led me to write about finding hope in Him in the loss. The rough draft is done. It is titled: Success Redefined – Abundant Life After Loss. I need to keep this bathed in prayer so it stays about Him and not about me. I know the book will help many people in similar situations. Until then pray God will lead them to my blog or other sources of Christ’s eternal hope. Thank you.

    • Steven, you made a great point about fighting in our own strength. I need to keep reminding myself to turn to God and draw from His strength, letting Him direct and lead. Only then can I rest in His arms and be at peace. Thank you for your comments.

  3. Kris, first I like to say “Thank you” for your talk we had Sunday in the park. I need to hear those words, I need to work on me, no matter how broken I feel and alone. For the Lord is with me, even if I feel he is not, He hear me ,even if I feel my cries go unanswered. He is working on His plan and I needlet Him place me in his works.

    • Ed, I enjoyed talking with you as well. And you’re right, we can’t always feel God’s presence, but we can be sure He’s there because the Bible promises that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4:8). I’m so thankful that I can rely on God’s Word to discern what is true, rather than on my emotions that change hourly. Thank you for your kind comments.

  4. Good one


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