27 Dec A Blessed Coping Mechanism
Today I am going to share a message that is very close to my heart and it was something that I held on to especially when I was a very young Christian till right where I am today. I realised every time I got just this basic faith concept right, my life will get back in the right track and everything in my spirit seemed easier to restore. So I really hope that this becomes a helpline or a turnover for you whenever you need in your own faith walk.
So this big basic thing that we are talking about today is: Coping Mechanism — The system/ways you use to handle the things in life.
Types of Coping Mechanism
Everyone will have their own coping mechanism that they are inclined to. You may be aware or you are unconscious of it because it comes so naturally every time an issue pops up. So what do I mean by conscious or unconscious coping mechanisms?
Unconscious Coping Mechanism
An example of an unconscious coping mechanism, for myself, is whenever I make a mistake and someone points it out, my coping mechanism is to harden up and be defensive. Why? To protect myself, my stand and my pride. I will rationalise and will probably say the person has made mistakes too or make the other person sound like the problem. Also known as the Blame Game. When I realise it sometimes, it is already a little too late, because I have frustrated the other person and made myself feel accused.
Conscious Coping Mechanism
Now, how about conscious coping mechanism? These are ways that you purposely and knowingly will use to help yourself handle issues. Like when I am coping with stress, I will want to find time to go eat some good food, to reward myself. Or hang out with my friends, maybe do a little retail therapy.
So I am very sure we all have these conscious or unconscious coping mechanisms in us as well, if we reflect upon it.
Problem with Self/Worldly-Driven Coping Mechanism
However, I want to bring you to the attention of the problem with these self-driven or worldly ways to cope. Now, it is supposed to make you feel better or make you feel good, right?
But there are some problems with these kinds of coping mechanisms that I want us to really look at today:
Duration: Firstly, the issue is the duration of it. It may feel good but only last for awhile. (e.g. go out with friends and have fun at a carnival but back at home alone, still have to face the emotions, stress.) The issue will still come back. Are you going to keep finding fun things to do and fill up your time? Some celebrities have all the money and parties and fun in the world, yet they still get into depression, anxiety, numbing methods. It is evident for us that all these things of the flesh can never fill up what the spirit needs and our spirit is the thing that keeps us feeling alive and have purpose.
Boomerang Effect: Next, the problem with worldly coping mechanism is that it will have the Boomerang Effect. For that moment it might feel good but does it have negative effect that will come back to you later on? Guilt? Accusations? Lack of money? Burning bridges because you cope by hurting others? Grades dropping? More expectations from friends to spend time together? So we have to ask ourselves: Is it really worth it? For that period of satisfaction?
What’s next? Finally, it may also make us question, “What’s Next?” You may cope by escaping, you may cope by distracting yourself. But the problem remains, the pile of work will still come, the pressure will still come, the feeling of low self esteem will still creep on you. Then, what’s next? You cannot keep brushing it off because it grows on you. It grows bitterness, it grows distress in you, it makes you feel lower when you are alone. Or let’s say you cope by dealing with the issue head on. So the issue is over. Won’t new issues come? After studying, there is the working world, career progress, relationships etc.? You can keep telling yourself you can do it and resolve them, but what if one day you can’t? What if you fail? What’s next for you?
So when people keep relying on self-driven or worldly driven coping mechanisms and the above 3 issues crop up: satisfy you only for awhile, come back to you with negative effects or you just continue to have new problems coming at you, it will result in things like chronic stress, strained relationships, depression, rebellious response or taking on different personas in different settings.
The Blessed Coping Mechanism
That is why, we really need to restore the true and right Coping Mechanism that can keep us afloat, save us from many unnecessary hurts or paths and receive the joy that God intended for us. It is true, problems cannot stop coming at us, but the right coping mechanism can keep our faith real and strong. So what is this right and blessed coping mechanism? Here are a few points on restoring a blessed coping mechanism:
Go back to God’s perspective
As Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” So, what does God say about this? What does God say about me? Is God really defining me based on this issue, this grade, this mistake I have made? Or am I setting all these expectations on myself? Am I really only valuable if I do this task well? If I climb up to this level of recognition? No, these are all voices that Satan wants us to hear and believe. So let us go back to the example of David, who always find time to step back and reflected his ways with the Lord. In Psalm 119:15 and 59, David said “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.” Brothers and sisters, God has made us all different and unique. We are not made to compare but to realise the need to constantly rely on our Creator or complement each other on different areas. We are not made to win over everyone but discover our conditions and use those conditions we have for God, wherever we are placed in.
Seize the moment as an opportunity to grow in faith
1 Peter 5:10 says “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” When issues hit us, rather than be overwhelmed and dwell on our emotions, we have to test and approve God’s purpose in every setback or problem. It can be to awaken us from some sins we keep going back to, it could be God testing our faith and wanting us to grow in our reliance on Him and in the midst, we testify how God is leading us through. Just like the verse said, there are works of restorations and empowerment through our struggles. Satan wants to use our problems to drive us apart from God, but all the more, we should lean on closer to trusting that God is in control.
Be immersed in a blessed community
Now, the above pointers may seem like very internal coping mechanisms. However, God knows we need the physical touch as well. Therefore, the final point, and an important one that actually saved my own faith living, is to be immersed in a blessed community. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” I used to have a lot of mixed groups of friends outside while I was still coming to church. Every time after I meet them, I know my heart starts to grow a little more loose and wild. But thankfully, I always went back to this blessed community that is church and back then, I was also in cell group. The messages, week after week, help me to keep readjusting my heart, my spirit, my direction. Until to a point, I start loosening the grip on the “worldly” activities that I used to desire doing and cherish the community of church friends I have, desiring more of what God calls me to desire. The brethren genuinely pray for me, care for me and I can comfortably share all my weaknesses with them. So when we cannot cope, God also prepares practical help through pastor, your church leaders, cell leaders or your church brethren. And from there, we can also move out of our own zones, to bless and edify other people in our fields.
Now, brothers and sisters, these pointers are not hard to understand, yet it is hard to be reminded of. The world is a battlefield for our spirit and faith living, but if we rest upon a sturdy and unwavered coping mechanism that is fuelled by the Source of all strength and hope, our Lord Jesus, then we will be able to have a firm standing against our struggles and woes. God bless.