Guest Blogger: Chris Colangelo
I love to catch myself in moments of Awe—moments when my senses admire creation, while my soul becomes quiet, opening my heart to the Words of His Spirit. He has done this to me while watching sunsets on Casco Bay in Portland, ME, as well as while watching the sun rise above the Atlantic, while listening to the waves break against the GA coastline. And, though ostensibly different, He has used animals to reveal Himself to me. In fact, He did so recently.
During a conversation with someone dear to me, it was revealed to me how my prior—and still lingering—impulse to “control” certain situations is, in essence, exactly like a dog who “guards.” “Guarding” can range from running away to eat food, keeping distance while playing with a toy, or approach growling or biting in severity.
It is not uncommon for a dog to “guard” when he fears losing something of value to him. For example, “guarding” can result if he has been habitually shorted of food, or toys, or security because he has been victimized by physical abuse, or not allowed to sleep un-pestered, etc. This is easy to understand, since, after all, his proactive, aggressive “guarding” is really his way to self-protect against further such violations.
I now view my remaining impulses to control as being triggers for my “guarding” behaviors—triggers to self-protect against being victimized, hurt, or violated, etc. Thinking about this led me to self-examine what violations I fear recurring—fear to the point it triggers me to proactively, aggressively, instinctively act to protect myself from it happening again?
Like a dog “guards” because he has been violated to the point of fearing further violation, I realized that, at different points in my life, I have been similarly violated in ways that damaged my self-esteem, my confidence, my self-image, my confidence that I was actually loved, my backbone to make decisions that were displeasing to key figures in my life, my worth & value to a wife, my worth & value to Jesus (why would He suffer & die for a doofus like me?), and more.
No wonder I have acted like a controlling jerk at many times throughout my life. No wonder I sought to be the one who dictated when & about what I would act like a controlling jerk. Obviously, if I “guard” at a time & manner of my choosing, I increase the chance that I strike first and save myself further violation.
Then the Beauty & Hope of His Revelation shone like a beacon in the dark. First, He sought to heal & restore me. Second, He sought to use His display of Love as yet another reality of why deepening my trust in Him as The Source of my Peace.
He patiently revealed how His grace, experienced from members of His earthly body, can Divinely re-program my expectations, restore my heart to full health, & will continue to apply soothing salve, even after I recover. My participation in this was? To tame my mind & will it to act with courage to trust Him—despite my fears and the triggers that will always come.
Next, as I shared, He made clear that matters of the heart, matters of peace, joy, security, identity, love, esteem, confidence, etc. (the same list of my violations!) flow from Him. So if I choose to trust in Him, they will endlessly flow …