If something isn’t quite right in your life but you’re concerned that dealing with the problem might make you uncomfortable, here are a few popular strategies to help you avoid discomfort.
- STUFF IT. Whenever a thought surfaces that you might have an emotional or relational problem, bury it immediately.
- SAY YOU’RE FINE. When family and friends ask how you’re doing, fake it. Because once you share the problem with someone else, it’s going to feel more real.
- ISOLATE. Stay away from church, your small group, and events where people might ask how you’re doing.
- DISTRACT. Avoid quiet times when troubling thoughts might bubble to the surface. Keep noise on in the background at home. Keep the car radio on. When you’re in a waiting room, play with your phone.
- SELF-MEDICATE. Figure out your go-to for temporary relief when you feel overwhelmed. Food works for a lot of people. Losing yourself in your work can help you avoid problems at home. Some people feel better after yelling at their loved ones and maybe even throwing a few things. And, of course, there are always alcohol and drugs.
- ASK GOD TO TAKE THE PAIN AWAY but to leave you alone. After all, you don’t want to get healthy; you just want to feel better.
If, however, you want to run toward healing, you can…
- NAME THE PAIN. When you notice something is wrong—inside you, with a relationship—name it. If you have trouble naming it, ask someone to help.
- REACH OUT FOR SUPPORT. Who are the safe people in your life who are willing to listen, encourage, pray without trying to “fix” you? Hang out with them. Consider talking with a pastor or counselor.
- RUN TOWARD COMMUNITY. We often need to be most intentional about participating in our intimate small groups when we most feel like hiding.
- CREATE QUIET ZONES. Carve out times of silence to listen to God. Meditate on Scripture. Jot down thoughts that come. Listen to worship music. On a solo road trip turn the radio off for an hour of uninterrupted quiet. Listen to your heart. Listen to the Spirit.
- BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT. Paul writes, “Do not get drunk with wine,,,but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18 ESV). Whenever we try to fill a spiritual hole with anything other than God, we end up with addiction—to a person, to a relationship, to an activity, to a substance. Only God satisfies without the hangover.
- ASK GOD TO SEARCH YOUR HEART (Psalm 139:23). God wants to heal you from the inside out. Invite him to transform your heart and mind (Rom. 12:2). He longs for you to be whole even more than you do.
- Which of the “run from” strategies have you used to cope with pain?
- Are there one or two “run toward” strategies that you want to get better at?