We live in a world full of stress, hurt, and things that were not meant to be. Regardless of our particular struggles, we all develop ways of dealing with stress and pain in our life — often through unhealthy choices. As I shared in my last blog post, I developed a number of compulsive behaviors to protect myself and cope with life. My addiction to food, constant fear and control, porn, and anger helped me to survive the chaos of life.
What are your coping mechanisms? Overwhelming fear? Binging on video games or Netflix? Excessive drinking? Control? Perfectionism? Overworking? Focusing too much on what you look like? The list seems endless, right?
Through identifying our specific unwanted behaviors and why we run to them, we can take steps to surrender them to Jesus. He desires to bring us healing, freedom, and to always meet our needs (Psalm 14:16). Let me share one tip for how I found freedom from my old destructive coping mechanisms.
Choosing to Be Proactive
As I said in Part 1 of this post, I truly believe that instead of accountability we need proactive and healing support.
This support incorporates assessing the precursors, stressors, emotions, and situations that tend to occur before we end up in our unwanted behaviors. This support involves creating a plan of action with safe people. It’s asking trusted friends to encourage us, and support us with specific challenges we are facing throughout the week. It’s knowing that with them, we won’t face condemnation but will be met with grace and truth. This support is about inviting others to help us understand why we do what we do, and to help us process the difficulties in life that trigger us to cope.
This type of support requires a proactive, daily choice. Trust me, I know this first-hand.
In 1 John 1:7, we are instructed to walk in the light, having fellowship with others and being cleansed from all sin by Jesus.
We do not just “let go and let God.” We have been given an active role to play in addressing issues in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13). As we confess our sins to God and one another, sharing our hurts and struggles and asking for help, the Holy Spirit brings about growth and healing in our lives.
Why Proactive Healing Support Works
Proactive and healing support is not about behavior modification.
It is about inviting God and others to be part of healing the underlying hurts and unresolved areas of our stories that we’d rather avoid.
Proactive and healing support is also not limited to simply talking about sin or unhealthy choices in our lives.
It’s a daily lifestyle of reaching out for help to process the pain and stress in life that often influences the ways we cope. We must understand that our sin and unhealthy choices are not random. We sin because we are sinful, but we also sin because we have been sinned against and have developed ways to cope when that past pain gets triggered.
Through being proactive and gaining healing support, Jesus matures us into who He created us to be.
When we stop fighting the wrong battles and start implementing proactive and healing support, we can invite Jesus to do His greatest work in the rich soil through which He has designed healing and growth to take place. He helps us to overcome struggles and our unwanted behaviors. I know because He’s done it with me.
Take This Next Step
As uncomfortable as it can be, I encourage you to ask a couple of trusted friends to live a lifestyle of proactive and healing support with you. Commit to reaching out to each other throughout the week. Together, begin to identify the stressors and patterns that lead you each to make unhealthy choices.
I might suggest that you and the safe people in your life also study The FASTER Scale, a tool designed by Christian counselor Michael Dye, to stay aware of your emotional state and see temptation coming before it arrives. “FASTER” is an acronym for Forgetting Priorities, Anxiety, Speeding Up, Ticked Off, Exhausted, and Relapse. The Scale is really helpful.