How to be codependent

Steven Covey talks about “The Maturity Continuum” which we all progress through in our journey to adulthood. It starts with a place of dependence (where we need others for literally everything in our lives…like children), to independence (I don’t need anyone), to the final stage which is interdependence. Interdependence says “I don’t need you, but my life is better because you’re in it.”

If that doesn’t work for you, you can always revert a few progressions and instead embrace a co-dependent (or fully dependent) lifestyle. The problem with interdependence is that it takes a lot of work to maintain the independence you’ve attained while starting to include other people back into your lives. Co-dependence is way easier because you can still desperately need people AND have them around you all the time. It will probably stall out your development as a person, but you’re guaranteed to never be rejected or alone.

Here are some steps toward functional co-dependence:

1) Go into ministry. There’s no better place I’ve found to find yourself co-dependent than to be in a place where people desperately need you. It’s a win/win because they need your help and you need their affirmation so you can co-depend on one another. When you venture into people’s lives and get past the barriers, the natural instinct is to protect your investment. Be ready to make sure people have kept your secrets and that they are always always willing and able to be sucked into more.

2) Keep your circle of friends small and exclusive. You can’t let things get out of your control. Since the world of a co-dependent person critically relies on loyalty, you need a firm line between those who have permission to access your life and those who don’t. Quality time is the key…and lots of it. If people have reasons to be elsewhere they won’t be with you.

3) Tell this small group things you’ve never told anyone before. Trust is the only way to manipulate grow the relationships around you. Make sure people outside the group know that you do this. Tell as many stories as possible about memories you made with the small group. The jealousy will help your group feel better about how exclusive tight knit you guys all are.

4) Be proactive. Always explain the disturbing amount of quality time you spend with these people as something healthy and be sure to use “community” as an excuse explanation for your behavior. People are going to think it’s odd so be ready to explain the joys of this co-dependency intimacy.

5) Deny deny deny. You’re always going to have dissenters. They’re probably right just jealous. Remember: YOU HAVE IT UNDER CONTROL. It feels so good to be accepted and included that it can’t possibly dysfunctional. People will try and give you feedback: DISREGARD it. They don’t understand and never will.

6) Operate with a worldview that believes God needs help. In Genesis God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. Use that reference to justify that you need more than just God’s love, acceptance and intimacy.

Codependency is like going through a maze and ending up at a dead end. You’re still in the maze and still moving but you’ll end up camping out at that dead end thinking you’ve finished the maze.

How to be a control freak

Continuing our cynical diatribe, if the “victim” mentality doesn’t work for you, you can always consider the alternative: being a control freak. Sometimes the victim thing doesn’t work because it actually stresses you out to feel so powerless (even if it does absolve you of having to work or make decisions). Being a control freak has the wonderful ability to fabricate a sense of significance and self-worth. Especially if you’ve been devalued, rejected or ignored in your past, being a control freak can help expose meet those deep, personal, vulnerable needs…at least enough to survive.

So here are your tips and tricks to being a successful C.F.:

1) Be afraid…like really afraid. All control is just a front for deep rooted anxiety. If you’re going to get the reigns of the relationships around you and orchestrate your environments to suit your own sense of safety and preference, you gotta start by stirring up some serious issues. It helps if you can project some of your past hurts and pains (rejection, being overlooked, abuse even) onto people around you. No one’s coming to make sure you don’t get hurt again so make your world work for you.

2) Always formulate and fight for your opinions convictions. You’re going to have to do some work, but always make sure you see the flaws in everyone and every scenario you encounter. Remember: no one’s ideas are ever as good as your own. Even if it’s genuinely impressive, it’s not as good as it could be. The second you settle is the second you lose your power. There’s nothing more threatening to a good control freak than losing their power.

3) Assume that people are always one statement away from rejecting you. Remember: you’re in control. People are flippant and emotional and are easily impressed by… well… more impressive people than you. You’ve got to give them a reason to stay loyal to you. You’ve got to keep the attention on yourself. People like to feel needed so need people. But don’t ever let them see what you really need (unconditional love), just make sure that they see their part in your drama (real or fabricated).

4) Speaking of unconditional love… Make sure that the roots of your worldview are never truly based in understanding or living as one who values unconditional love. Love can’t be real if there’s no way to lose it. People (and God) aren’t robots who are just living out what they’re programmed to do (love you). So make sure you are always EARNING their love and trust, that way you can always stay in control. Grace is unnecessary when you’re in control.

5) Go to extremes. Either get super clingy to a few select people who can never leave your side or float often from group to group constantly winning people over, becoming the center of their social universe, then leaving when they need you too much. Normal, casual, mutually beneficial relationships won’t work for you. It’s either all or nothing.

6) Assume that God’s staying distant for a reason. It might not have even occurred to us them that God’s even noticed our plight. He didn’t seem to be around when pain happened in the past and life was too lonely, out-of-control, or painful when He had His chance to intervene, so we’re content to make it work for ourselves. It can never be God’s fault (because He’s…well… God) so don’t blame Him, but don’t count on Him either.

7) Always talk about your latest life-changing epiphanies. As long as you’re “growing,” you’ll always steer people away from confronting how intimidating, manipulative or needy you might be.

Controlling your relationships and environments will give you a complex purpose. That’s what we all want: to matter. If you can get people to notice you, listen to you, change their minds because of you, fight for you and never cross you, you should find the safety you crave…just remember that it will need to be monitored and maintained 24/7.

How to be a victim

This is your guide to being a victim. So many people in the world are genuine victims (tsumani, earthquake, human slavery/trafficking, innocent bystanders of war or political upheaval). But fortunately, there’s a way you can assume the persona of a victim by following a few simple guidelines. In your case, you get to choose to live like this so consider carefully. Understand that living like a voluntary victim takes incredible commitment. You can’t compromise because the proverbial house of cards will fall if you slip up even once.

1) Do nothing. It’s impossible to be disappointed or trapped by the decisions you don’t make and the responsibility you successfully avoid. Always make sure that no productivity happens on your own volition, that way everything in your life happens TO you instead of BECAUSE of you. It’s important that if you’re a victim that nothing can ever be traced back to your intentions or initiative. Remember: being a victim absolves you of responsibility…in other words: it’s never your fault.

2) Always make sure there’s something you “intend” to do. Victims can’t be vegetables, you’re still a person. You have to live your life. So if you’re going to be a victim, always have a plan but here’s the catch: never use a deadline. As long as you have a “plan” you can’t be blamed for being lazy. The goal is to always preserve your own significance but always keep it in the future.

3) Always have an excuse explanation. This is probably the easiest habit to form if you’re going to be a successful victim. Always have someone or some circumstance to blame for your inactivity. One way to be super successful about this is to formulate unorthodox plans. Always chart your own course that assumes you can shortcut the system and make sure that the success of your “plan” relies on exceptions to be made on your behalf.

4) Never accept or admit that you’re a “victim.” This is crucial because as soon as you “own” this issue, the indictment might require you to lose your victim status. Make sure that you can always justify your victimized excuses explanations in a noble, admirable, intentional manner. If you’re going to focus your efforts anywhere: learn how to communicate. It’s all about convincing yourself and those around you that you’re not actually a victim.

5) Surround yourself with other victims. It’s easy, as long as no one else takes responsibility, they’ll never confront you on not taking responsibility. You can live happily absolved of any burden or pressure because everyone will be too obsessed with themselves to care about or notice you.

6) Admit just enough self-awareness. If you do have people in your life who are intrusive enough to interfere with your personal development, you can stave them off by showing them that you agree that personal growth is important. You don’t have to be actively working towards anything, you just have to admit you understand. That “self awareness” should keep people from examining your life and intentions too much so you can stay comfortably stagnant.

7) Keep things abstract and super spiritual. Always make it God’s fault. If you won’t choose don’t have anything you want to do or “can’t decide find” something to do with your time (beyond a weekend, vacation or sabbatical), you can always stand on a conviction that God said it’s okay that you’re doing nothing and you should keep doing it. It’s the ultimate trump card and can keep you passive and isolated for a really, really long time.

Remember that victimization is always your choice. If you’re ever tempted to take responsibility or initiative, remember that by doing so, you’re likely to make a significant (or…well…any) impact on the world around you. It will cost you time, independence, flexibility, and the option to live a life that that has your entertainment and comfort at it’s center.

Choose wisely… (unless you have a “good” excuse reason to postpone or avoid it entirely).

Homeschooled and LOVING it!

So I’m participating in Kelly Chadwick’s Creative 30 project. Everyday she’s posted a new creative assignment to get our juices flowing and thus far we’ve drawn self-portraits on post-Its (it was actually supposed to be on a napkin but I improvised), found pictures in the clouds, and done photo-stories.

(My drawing (on the right) may or may not have looked like a police-sketch of a serial killer but hey, we’re learning that the worse evil is not to try.)

One of our assignments, however, was about creative, free-flowing writing. The task was to set a timer for 15 minutes and just write until the clock ran out. The prompt was “my favorite thing about elementary school.”

So here’s what I wrote for my assignment. It ends abruptly but that’s because my 15 minutes were up.

Elementary School:

Being homeschooled I guess I didn’t know what I was missing when kids said they went to school. In fact, just yesterday I had a conversation about “bus memories” with a friend. I never rode the bus. I woke up every morning to my dad singing through my bedroom, joyfully opening the blinds to my room letting in painfully bright rays of bubbly sunshine so I could “greet the day”… That didn’t last long… I remember having a “heart to heart” with my dad about this habit (I was literally probably ten years old). My proposal was that if he would let me set my own alarm and wake up on my own that I would absolutely promise to be at “family devotions” on time, alert and ready to participate. My offer was that as soon as I was late, even ONCE, he could resume his barbaric ritual with no complaint from me. Knowing what I know now, I think it devastated and impressed him all at once… In fact, I think he liked greeting me every morning.

Growing up in my house, my mom was borderline fanatical about health and nutrition. We had to take this nutritional supplement called “Barley Green” which was basically dehydrated grass. We’d put two spoonfuls in about 6 ounces of apple juice and Irish car bomb it until it was gone. There were eight of us in the house so my dad would line up the cups biggest to smallest (mine was always number three because it was dad’s, mom’s (even though mom was older…never understood that one)), then me, then on down the line. My cup was always green.

I was always most efficient in the mornings. My goal was to complete all my assignments before lunch…and I often met that goal. My mom is a curriculum master and we tried everything. We even did ATIA curriculum which was basically a sacrifice of praise to the conservative Christian gods. We learned basic Greek, memorized HUGE portions of scripture (I had Matthew 5 and 6 memorized by the time I was 11), and had to read all sorts of books no one’s ever heard of.

I remember standardized testing. That’s what homeschoolers have to do to get credit for passing a grade. A certified teacher can either personally evaluate your progress or you can take the state standard exams (the one thing I did learn about the world “outside” was how to use scantrons…go figure). For most of elementary school we got evaluated by Mrs. Sellers. She drove a massive station wagon you could hear coming a mile away. But she was a nice lady.

When I got to fifth grade and beyond, however, standardized testing was the social event of the season. Central Florida has a ridiculous number of homeschoolers and they’d all come from their “little houses on the prairie” to come to testing. Seriously, homeschoolers are either dropouts or children of the corn. You either wore all black gothic regalia or clothes you handmade yourself for 4-H. Somehow, me and my siblings were somewhere in the middle…basically normal…but not really…because we were still homeschooled. My little extroverted self, however, couldn’t have been happier to do multiple choice tests which I passed consistently with flying colors (except Spelling and Reading Comprehension…those always got me) only to take breaks and experience the most celebrated of all traditional traditions: recess.

Oh. My. Gosh. Did you know that kids play for FUN!? Together?! E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.?!?

It was seriously my favorite time of year. How sad is that…or precious? I can’t decide which.

My mom liked us being able to explore extracurriculars. We did a wilderness survival class where we built shelters out of dry brush and pine needles. We learned how to survive a plane crash in the ocean by jumping in the pool with all our clothes on and inflating them with air to stay afloat longer. I got to study Greek Mythology one semester which was also when I began my obsession with comic books…(lame…I know…) Apparently ancient Greece had their own nerds because that’s all basic Greek Mythology was… Ancient heroes and villains.

I got to try music. I played recorder (like the nice kinds…that you pay money for). I played piano, learned French Horn (but that was more in middle school). Oh, and going back to ancient Greece, we did a “world fair” one year and each had to research and present a country to the co-op (there were maybe 5 or so families participating). I picked Greece. I’m still not sure what happened, but I basically did no research or preparation at all…so out of character I know. But when it came down to my presentation…I bombed…like the worse bomb ever…like the kind where people on the front row are humiliated for you. Yep. That was a memory I never wanted to bring up again…awesome.

DONE

Scared… Last Thought…

So after weeks of realizing how paralyzingly scared we really are and discovering that many of us share the same basic fears, only one question is really left to ask…

No seriously, so what?

What if it’s all true?

What if you really are afraid?

What if the past really is a tribute to landmine discovery?

What if the journey till now has been avoidance, denial, or rejection of the path in front of you?

The answer isn’t some of the standard “reconditioning” techniques used by psychologists (ie. letting spiders walk all over you to “cure” your arachnophobia).

The answer isn’t hiding out and managing your life around your fears so you can “survive.”

The answer isn’t just enduring the panic or anxiety.

There’s something to the process of becoming men and women who walk, not fearless, but courageous. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, remember. You may always have one more reason to be afraid. The question is about YOU and who you want to be.

1) You need to decide how important it is to BE A PERSON OF COURAGE. If it’s not important to you, nothing will change.

2) You need to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “Do something every day that scares you.” If you don’t actually ACT like a person of courage, you’ll never actually BE a person of courage. It should be normal to overcome.

3) Call it what it is. “It’s fear.” “I’m afraid of this.” “This makes me feel anxious.” If you don’t identify your enemy, you can’t target them. You need to LOOK the fear in the face and say “YOU DON’T GET TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO!”

4) Sow into other people’s freedom. There’s nothing like cameraderie. One of the biggest problems with fear is having to face it alone. Walk others through their fear and let them walk you through yours. TALK about it! The devil’s in the secrets.

5) MAKE IT WORSE. Okay, this might sound like weird advice, but I read in a story. The characters were confronting fears and they had to either stop being afraid or be courageous enough to make it worse. So if they were claustrophobic and found themselves in an enclosed space, they had to make the space smaller to pass the test. If you struggle with a fear of rejection, PRESS INTO RELATIONSHIP. Put yourself out there. If you struggle with control issues, LET OTHER PEOPLE DECIDE. Let them order your meal for you. If you fear the unknown or the future, have people wait until the last minute to tell you what’s going on.

Do something to PROVE to yourself that it. doesn’t. own. you.

2 Timothy says “GOD hasn’t given you a spirit of fear.” It says instead: “[GOD’s given you] a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.”

Come on friends. You can do it.

Scared $#!+less … get out of the way Reject…

In all my research two particular fears I believe are dominating our generation never came up in a clinical diagnosis. It actually surprised me because out of all the phobias we’ve talked about over the last couple weeks, I probably reference these more than any others.

Fear of Rejection

This is one of the most debilitating, anxiety-ridden fears I encounter. In fact, it has its own dysfunctional psychological expressions. This fear is frequently manifested as a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you deal with this fear pay attention because you may find that you participate in this:

I’m afraid that others will fail to accept me or even flat out reject me. I’ll live as an outcast, unliked, unwanted, and I have enough physical evidence and experience to support this (irrational) claim.

Thus, I can’t possibly be sure people are genuine when they say that they care about me. I have to make sure they’re serious so I test them. I do objectionable things, even push them away to see if they’re willing to fight for me.

People aren’t used to being mistreated (not like I am) so they distance themselves, confused at what I’ve just done and inadvertently end up dismissing and ultimately rejecting me.

See? I was right. Nobody wants me, nobody would fight for me, and the sad thing is, they didn’t even see the real me yet.

The other fear I found sadly missing was:

Fear of being out of control

It has been a startling revelation for me to discover that CONTROL IS MANIFESTED FEAR. I want you to think about it. Control freaks cannot handle, maybe even have these biological, instinctive fight or flight reflexive responses to: not being a decision maker or holding the responsibility for some task or stewardship.

You know those individuals who MUST have it their way?

… who are DEFENSIVE about their behavior?

… who go aggressive (or worse passive aggressive) when their TERRITORY is encroached upon?

… who are critical when it is done DIFFERENTLY than they expected or wanted?

So often, this is not about arrogance, this is about fear. You excuse it as preference or even accuse others of being inconsiderate or incompetent, but actually: you’re afraid.

These fears are debilitating friends. They don’t look good on you. And here’s the deal: YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO LET THESE GO IF YOU ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE FREEDOM!

You’re going to have to give up your claim that you are the ONLY advocate for your acceptance. Live accepted by the Lord and let Him provide people to unconditionally accept you…even if you don’t unconditionally accept yourself.

You’re going to have to stop caring so much about things and ask yourself if the anxiety or even anger you feel when you’re out of control is an accurate expression of the person you want to be.

Remember: if you say you can’t help it: YOU’RE PLAYING THE VICTIM CARD. Unless something is legitimately controlling your actions and pulling the puppet strings of your life STAND UP AND TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY.

You’re in charge here.

Here’s your vocabulary word of the day:

Anthophobiafear of flowers

Scared $#!+less…Occam’s Razor…

I’m trying hard to figure out how to land this plane. The list of phobias we could talk about is literally pages and pages long. We haven’t even talked about anuptaphobia (the fear of staying single) or neophobia (the fear of new things). We’ve only grazed the surface of the idea of autophobia (the fear of being alone) and haven’t even breeched dysmorphophobia (the fear of a real or imaginary body defect).

Then there are issues that I may bring up in our next post that don’t have clinical names but are legitimate, life affecting, freedom threatening fears.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific theory that says: “when in doubt, the simplest possible explanation is usually the right one.” My conclusion is that our culture and generation is quite:

Panphobic

fear of everything

It just seems to be true. Fears are at the fabric of our curse. It started with Adam but the end is still a toss up. One good courageous move is a beautiful, yet short-lived celebration. For fears come up again and again and require bravery to deeper and deeper levels. Not to be fatalistic, but they’re the battle we’re here to fight.

But one issue that we haven’t addressed comes on the heels of this rather sobering declaration. It comes down to this: do we live in fear because we don’t know any better or could we, in fact, have:

Eleutherophobia

fear of freedom

If we use our standard description, eleutherophobia is a biological, reflexive response to the idea of living outside our prison cells. It’s different than agoraphobia (fear of leaving a safe place) because it’s not just danger we may face, but responsibility.

We don’t know what to do with this freedom. We’re so terrified of failing (atychiphobia), or having to make decisions (decidophobia), that we CHOOSE BONDAGE.

How is this possible?! How do we accept that this is our life and that this is God’s intended expression for our destiny?

Is this nothing more than being so wrapped up in the “what if” on the other side of the curtain that we wallow in our dank cell? Even if our worst realities were the reality of “the other side”… do you want to go out a fighter or a prisoner?

You only get one shot at this life. Is this how you want it to play out?

I want to share some paths to freedom in our last post in this series, so stay tuned.

Here’s your vocabulary word of the day:

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobiafear of long words

Scared $#!+less… a little too close to home

I’m just going to come right out and say it. No fanfare, no build up. I want you to see this, an actual clinical diagnosis:

Ecclesiophobia

the fear of the church

No matter what your stance is on the church, denominations, conservative vs liberal, liturgical or charismatic, there is an actual term for the physiological response of anxiety for some individuals who think about the church.

I can envision a soapbox some might get on that says “yes! see?! Down with the church!” But I hope that’s not your response. I hope this devastates you.

I can get up and rehearse my “the church hurt me” story along with the best of them, but I am proud to say that I haven’t given up on the church. I have a proverb I like to live by: “don’t complain about anything you’re not willing to help change.”

Pay attention, though. Look at these other related phobias:

Stygiophobia

fear of hell

How often do we play on this fear to get people to pray a Sinner’s Prayer?

Philophobia

fear of love

People coming into our communities are starting off at a deficit. Even if we could convince them that we’re more sincere than just being willing to shake their hand at the door or (God forbid) “high-five” them during our 23 second “greeting time” they are already having emotional responses to intimacy. If we can’t convince them they have genuine value to us as believers, how are we supposed to convince them of a God who desires that intimacy with them?

Scopophobia

fear of being looked at

It’s a good thing we don’t create environments where people who look different stand our or feel out of place… (sense the sarcasm people).

This isn’t just about our own fear, this is about how we help one another be courageous enough to overcome theirs. We don’t always have to walk through the valleys alone. We don’t even necessarily need to make bold moves of courage alone!

What we’re really addressing is… are people afraid of you? Do you care?

As you ponder, consider this as your vocabulary word of the day:

Zemmiphobia fear of the great mole rat

Scared $#!+less…with great power comes…

I remember my grandparents talking about growing up during a rough time in America’s history.  The Great Depression was a devastating blow to the country and the current “recession” for all of its challenges really held no candle to the 1930’s.

In response to the collective struggle of the people of that time, it motivated an entire generation to take hold of their future and buckle down.  No longer were they going to be victims, no longer were the lack of resources or opportunities going to hold them back or oppress them.

So they went to work.

My grandfather (after he returned from his time serving our country in WWII) jumped into agriculture and worked sixty years in the cattle feed business.  When he retired, it took three people to replace him.

My grandmother on the other side of the family has worked in real estate for over forty years.  It was a value of life to work hard and the empowerment (or fear, let’s be honest) kept them working hard.

Today’s a new day and a generation is responding completely differently than the generations before to the idea of stability, the workforce, the idea of a “career,” and good old-fashioned elbow grease.

I believe the freedom’s we’ve grown up with and the lack of adversity we’ve had to face in our lifetime have made us both entitled to the following phobia but also at its mercy:

Hypengyophobia

fear of responsibility

There are a HOST of additional side fears that accompany this phobia, many of which we’ve already referred to (atychiphobia – the fear of failure; teleophobiathe fear of definite plans).  But this one is unique.

Another way we employ a “flight” response to our fears and phobias is through justifications.  I heard someone say recently “I’m not afraid, I just don’t want to.”  Here’s the harsh reality though: if you have to reassure yourself you’re not afraid…you probably are.  And let’s be honest…not wanting to looks a lot like a flight response to fear.

Because overcoming your fears is HARD WORK.  You’re right.  Choosing to fight the fear will be brutal.  Courage isn’t easy, preferable, and (especially in circumstances where your fears are hurting no one but yourself) quite easy to dismiss.

But taking responsibility is a movement without necessity.  In Jewish culture, boys and girls become men and women at a young age.  With great ceremony, a boy will celebrate a bar mitzvah which not only signifies his entry into manhood, but also the expectation that there will be s shift in his life where he will be expected to take responsibility.

Often times the reason we don’t want to take responsibility is because if we do, we could miss the golden opportunity.  We live idealistic that our dream job won’t feel like work at all!  If hard work hurts, we reason, then it can’t be the highest and best use of my time. 

In many cases, we want to GET ON WITH IT and will find a place to practice what we what to do instead of going through a developmental process to prepare us adequately for the task.  We have a Macrophobia or “a fear of long waits” about our lives and too many men and women from my generation are sacrificing the world changing contribution of “later” for the small, incremental projects of “now.”

Again I ask: who decides how this goes?  Are you stronger than your frustrations?  Are you in control of the time necessary to be groomed for an earth shattering contribution?

Look at your life.  If you’re not working hard, someone/something else might be in charge…and it might be up to you to take the reigns back.

Here’s your word of the day:

Xanthophobia – fear of the color yellow

(as an aside…no other color gets its own clinical name…just yellow…)

Scared $#!+less…are you afraid of the …

Mike and Sully taught us one thing: the monsters in the closet are terrifying…but mean well. Kids have always had an awareness of the scary things that go “bump” in the night. Their imaginations turn shadows into ghosts, air conditioners into howls, and household creaking into sinister prowling.

When it comes down to it, though, we’re all just a little achluophobic…

Achluophobia

“fear of darkness”

In my line of work I actually interact frequently with people that dare the darkness to hold some terror. I mean darkness not in the literally “absence of light” kind of way, but instead darkness meaning “evil.”

I’m amazed at our western society’s ignorance about the legitimate travesties that exist in the world. It’s one thing to hear the phrase “human trafficking” and shake your head at the unfortunate nature of this…cause. It’s another to walk the streets of the red light districts in Thailand and see baby bottles placed on the little altars outside of a bar to represent the aborted or lost babies of the prostitutes who work nightly at the establishment.

When I was in Thailand a few years ago, I heard from a teammate how they walked by a building on the strip where our contact told them about a recent raid by the government which found Ukrainian women chained to the walls released only to “service” clients with a particular eastern European ethnic taste.

That’s darkness.

What emotion did you just feel when you read that?

Did you feel indifferent?

Did you shake your head at the unfortunate reality of those “poor women”?

Did you feel horror?

What do you think you should have felt?

What’s your current emotion about hearing more stories like this? I’m not saying anyone likes it, but does that reality do no more than make you want to wear your money belt when you travel and stay in groups near well-lit areas?

Jesus wasn’t afraid of the dark. In fact, his constant challenge to us was to over come our social optophobia.

Optophobia

“fear of opening one’s eyes”

One of my favorite observations about Jesus was how often he was described as “stopping” and “looking.” He had no agoraphobia (“fear of leaving a safe place”) about interacting in places that were …

Dirty…

Smelly…

Undesirable…

Full of questionable people…

Different…

Do we go where we’re supposed to go or do our phobias decide for us where we can and cannot venture? Is there somewhere you “can’t” or “won’t” go simply because you’re afraid?

We all claim that “if God told me I’d go” … how sure are you that he hasn’t?