Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why You Do What You Do?

My husband's alarm clock is set nearly half an hour fast. I think so he can hit the snooze button like a hundred times before he actually HAS to get up.

I need to wet my toothbrush with the toothpaste on it before I start to brush.

Someone I know cannot have their food touching on the plate at ALL costs.

We all have things we do. Some annoying, some strange, some perfectly normal or so we think. Why do we do the things we do? The examples above are silly OCD kinds of things, but we all act the way we act for some reason. Chalk a lot of it up to personality, but that isn't all of it.

In a marriage care group we attend we took a personality assessment test to see what our L.O.V.E. styles are and how they work with our spouse's style. It was an interesting activity and my results were mostly true for me. The thing about these personality style tests is that they don't measure how life experiences, good & bad, contribute to who you are. Would our test results be different if this or that hadn't happened in our life?

The truth is that life experiences, particularly negative ones, have a real effect on who we are, the choices we make, and how we relate to others. Where's the test that measures that?

I think it's easy to look back at the things that have happened in our lives and feel victimized.
"I'm this way because of how I was raised."
"I can't trust because I have never been able to trust anyone."
"People always let me down, that's why I have to do it myself."
"She made me feel bad about myself, that's why I have bad self-esteem."
Do you ever find yourself making excuses or justifying your behavior by blaming someone else? I am not saying that the choices others make don't contribute to why we are the way we are. For a long time I didn't even realize that the reasons I struggle with certain things or why I react to situations or people in a particular way were because of experiences I had in my life. I never connected it before. Like cause and effect, we can be acting or REacting because of issues we aren't even fully aware of yet.

I believe that it is important to self-evaluate. Have you ever asked yourself why you do certain things? Why are you so angry? Why do you have trouble being yourself around others? Why do you take control of EVERYTHING?

Can you connect the dots? Can you understand yourself a little better by figuring out not just what you do, but why you do it?

Self-evaluating isn't where you stop. Once you figure out what you do and why you do it you need to take it a step further. Because if you don't, I believe you will get stuck in that victim, "poor me" place. I think I hovered in the ignorance/self-pity place for a little while and then I read this:
"Sin is sin. A child finds ways to protect or numb herself... But when, as an adult, she allows these behaviors to continue in a way that keeps her from deeply entering into relationship with those she is called to love, she is no longer simply "coping" in a legitimate way. She is violating God's highest commandments. Sin that is ignored or denied lingers like an untreated infection." ("Wounded Heart" by Dr. Dan B. Allender)
As much as I didn't want to hear it at the time, the truth of these statements have stayed in my heart & mind since the day I read them. When traumatic things happen we find ways of coping. There may be completely justified reasons why you act the way you do, but when you know better it's no longer innocence but sin.

If I choose to be an untrusting, self-protective adult that's a sin, irregardless of why I am that way. The key word is "choose". As I said before, some of us, maybe most of us are either in ignorance or denial of why we do the things we do. But if we are making sinful choices, we cannot live the life God wants for us. We are bound and chained by the things that happened to us in the past. If we never move past them, never understand their effects on us, never address the choices we are making because of what happened, then we are sinfully stuck.

I'm not saying that one day you will understand that your lack of trust in relationships was because you never had a trustworthy friend growing up and that realization will magically cause you to trust people again. What I am saying is the realization of your lack of trust, coupled with the legitimate reason that caused you not to trust, will give you insight and motivation to make some changes. Your awareness of your trust issue may help you to make different choices. You may be reminded when you start down a path to distrust that you are not trusting because of someone or something else from the past. Not because all people are not trustworthy.

This is powerful and it's not easy. Realizing what you are doing and why isn't that fun. It might mean you need to forgive someone who hurt you. It might mean you need to work through the pain and trauma of what happened before you can make efforts to change it's effect on your life (this can be done with a trusted counselor). It can be upsetting. You may have been reacting that way as long as you can remember. It may seem impossible to change. And you might be right, if you are trying to do it on your own.

The changes in my life and my husband's life could not have been done in our own strength. God is still at work in our lives, revealing things that are holding us back. Growing and maturing us by encouraging us to work through issues we still struggle with. Change is hard. Making different choices; bold, "unlike us" choices is not easy. It takes a commitment to healing, to obeying God's word, and often, to other people, especially the ones that love us. The Holy Spirit in us can show us the way.

Change is a desire of the heart. God will show us what needs changing if we are willing to ask.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)
Why do you do the things you do? Are you held back by things that happened to you in the past? Do they keep you from living the life you were created to live? Are you "sinfully stuck"?

3 comments:

Carolyn Byers Ruch said...

So true, Christy. Our pain does hold us back and speaks powerful lies into our hearts and minds.

I still wage war against the lies that long to rule in my heart and the sin those lies deceptively produce. In some situations it's easier for me to discern lies, in others not so easy, but one thing I've noticed is the lies that hold me captive do come back. They may shroud themselves in a different cloak, but underneath they're still the same old boogers. Just goes to show how uncreative the deceiver is. I just have to get under the cloak and take a peek so I know which booger I'm dealing with. Then I do what I need to do to pull of the cloak. Once the Light hits the booger, that old boogieman's not so scarey.

Christy said...

Thanks for sharing that, Carolyn. I actually intended to say in that post, but didn't, that just because you identify the issues doesn't mean they don't continue to be a struggle. And that they can and do show up in different ways. Maybe you are angry. But at the heart of the anger is an issue with feeling unloved. The issue of feeling unloved may not always show itself in anger. It may come out in other ways, like self-protecting, eating disorders, etc. The anger, etc. is just a symptom of the deeper issue.

a.willard said...

More like 99 times. HAHAH

You are sooo right baby.

Thank you for being my truth speaker and encouraging me to self evaluate even if I don't always want to.

We get so caught up in our junk that we forget that God knit us together in that secret place. He knows our deepest wounds, and has a plan for healing.

But as you said so well we need to be willing to evaluate ourselves and trust him for the right path

thank God for making you part of my path.

love you
adam

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