YOUR WHOLEHEARTED JOURNEY
Skill 2: Courage
How might have you attempted to sooth (self-satisfy) the wounding you experienced after your shattering story? One way we do this (most of the time, unknowingly), is to construct an approach to life that will keep us from having to feel our wound(s) or ever put ourself in a position to be wounded in a similar manner again.
Approaches may include (Strategies According to Oz):
- Munchkin - "Shrink" or diminish oneself. Consistently relegating oneself to the background or hiding (rarely speaking up, not drawing attention to oneself, rarely putting oneself “out there”, etc.)
- Wizard - The “all-knowing,” consistently presents themselves as competent, confident and in control—rarely revealing their true thoughts or feelings.
- Western Witch - Consistently takes an offensive position, using attack to distance themself from those who might expose their wound or potentially inflict a new one. They consistently strike first, believing that the best defense is a good offense.
- Scarecrow - consistently presents themselves as non-threatening, unwaveringly loyal, controllable and can endure just about anything from anyone.
- Cowardly Lion - Consistently presents themselves as timid, meek and unthreatning.
- Tin Man - distances themselves from emotion and primarily leans on logical thought. (Attempts to divide their “Mind” (thoughts & emotion)).
There are a million different approaches (or strategies)—and every combination thereof—one can use to cope with the hurt they've experienced.
- Did you resinate with a strategy or strategies (above) in some way?
- If someone consistently employed one or more of the strategies overtime, what might they experience in their life?
- How might that hinder them entering the abundant life Jesus promised them? (Below, you'll find Joel's example.)
Joel's Example: Many of us are naturals at playing the "Tin Man." I know I (Joel) was. (Most often, I would mask myself in a "Scarecrow" personality, while, internally, using the "Tin Man" to shield myself from being hurt by others.) Yet, it's impossible to love anyone well (spouse, children, friends, etc.) without being emotionally connected. Aren't amazing relationships essential to experiencing the better life we long for? Attempting to distance myself from my emotions hindered me from entering the better life Jesus prepared for me. And for those of us who find ourselves "shutting-down" emotionally—it's likely a coping strategy we employ to shield ourselves from experiencing emotional pain—but, unfortunately, this strategy will also keep us from fully entering our better life.
As you’ve already experienced—a wholehearted journey takes courage—especially when you're seeking to vulnerably answer the soul-searching questions presented in this—Your Wholehearted Journey—section. The next questions I’m about to ask you, are no different. But, you wouldn’t have made it this far if you weren’t hulking with copious amounts of intestinal fortitude. So once again, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Remember, that the initial discomfort you may feel when answering the following questions, will pail in comparison to the better life you'll be experiencing on the other side of them. Here they are:
- How did you respond during the shattering episode you’ve written about? (Did you fight, flee, freeze or fawn (some animals fawn—or “play dead”—to deceive those seeking to harm them)?
- Did your regular disposition or personality change in some way after the event?
- How did you attempt to sooth or cope with the pain of your wounding after that shattering event?
- Does that strategy influence your life in some way today?
If there are any details that came to light, in your answers above, that have not yet been included in your written story, please take a moment and add them now. Additionally, please take note of any negative or limiting coping strategies you may have identified. If you have identified one or more of them (strategies/approaches to life), answering the following questions will bring more clarity concerning them and how they may presently be influencing your life. (Please write the answers to these questions in a convenient space below your story and label them "Coping Strategies". Additionally, your answers to those questions will be extremely beneficial for you in a future exercise you'll engage in at the conclusion of Skill 6: An Unveiled Face.)
- Did you identify a potential coping strategy or mechanisms you've employed? (If you happened to identify more than one, you may also include it here.)
- If so, did this coping strategy help you to make it through the wounding experience of your past? How? (Coping strategies can be useful for a short season—especially, during or after a shattering event—but, often, once they are "turned-on" we often don't know how or that we even should turn them off.)
- Do you sometimes (or often) use that same strategy today, do you see it limiting your life or keeping you from entering your better life in any way? If so, how?
- What coping strategies might be operating in the temple of your heart? Asking Jesus to help reveal them and “clear them out” is the best action you could take. He’s more than ready to help you—as the Scripture reveals, “zeal for [your] temple consumes [him]” (John 2:17).