Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm Not Trying To Kill You

My wife and I have enjoyed 28 pretty spectacular years of marriage so we’re really not at high risk of the wheels coming off.  Still, there are times when tension arises.  In those moments, if you were standing close by, you’d hear one of us say to the other, “I’m not trying to kill you.”  A strange admonition to pass between two love birds?  …well, not really.  Let’s listen carefully to someone else who loves us, our Sponsor:
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…. (Psalm 23:3)
Israel’s King David knew a thing or two about fear.  From the time he was of kindergarten age he confronted evil of all kinds.  This verse from perhaps the most famous passage in all of scripture tells the pure simple truth – each one of us live life in “the valley of the shadow of death”.  Sometimes we don’t see our fears as ultimately the fear of death, but that’s what it is.  If you’re in a spat with your neighbor over a fence-line or dog poop, that’s not life and death, is it?  Maybe not on the surface, but if your neighbor is mad at you – really mad! – what’s his limit?  How far is he willing to go to put you in your place?  Our minds conjure up fears often greater than the immediate circumstances warrant.  Take your employment for example.  Ever been in fear of losing your job?  How did it make you feel?  Anxious?  Paranoid?  Defensive?  Why?  Because our jobs provide our “livelihood” – the means to keep us alive with food, shelter, and clothing.  If our livelihood is at risk, we drop down to survival mode pretty quickly.  Ultimately, all fear is a shadow of the fear of death (whether being killed by others or by untimely death that could have been prevented).

Many Christians shy away from some aspects of the realm of psychiatry / psychology – perhaps for good reason.  Take Sigmund Freud, for example.  He was no follower of Jesus, but let me ask you, didn’t he study the minds of people created by God?  Look at this “iceberg of consciousness” based on Freud’s findings.  Thoughts and perceptions on the conscious level are literally “floating” atop deeper things in our mind.  Among the things in the basement level are our fears.  We may not always recognize their presence, but they are still there.  Let me illustrate this with the simple event of “road rage”.  Some idiot in front of you is checking his cell phone and he veers into your lane.  You do the sane, defensive thing, you honk your horn.  The dufus “who almost ran you off the road” extends and proudly displays one of his digits.  You get hyped up, he gets hyped up, and in seconds everyone’s blood pressure is boiling over.  Sometimes people wind up getting shot, you know that.  Over what, careless driving?  Are you kidding me?  Think I’m straining here?  Go back and read this illustration about a husband who threw his marriage on the trash heap because his wife forgot to clean a little spot off the floor.  A spot!  I’m telling you, each one of us is skating around on some slick ice on top of this iceberg.

My wife and I have seen fear in action up close and personal.  We have seen our very closest friends destroyed by fear.  We have watched others disabled by anxiety and defensiveness.  We try to guard against this in our relationship.  The best way to do that, we have found, is to recognize that each of us are fragile people and prone to reacting in unhealthy ways.  So when I’m getting tense, my blood pressure is rising, my mouth is getting dry… my dear wife looks at me and says, “Clark, I’m not trying to kill you.”  And I remember that she didn’t marry me just to get a close shot at the back of my head.  If I’m sensing something it’s my own fear.  I’m going through the valley and I’m focused on the evil rather than God’s presence in my life.

Followers of Jesus don’t deny fear Many times we can’t even avoid circumstances that provoke fear.  It's actually a healthy response, but dealing with challenges through fear is a terribly bad solution.  All we can do is realize that we are not alone.  God loves us and has afforded us a home in heaven for eternity.  We are not guaranteed a peaceful path on earth, but followers of Jesus can have inner-peace through faith that God watches over us.

Try it out.  Say to someone today, "I’m not trying to kill you.".  And tell me what the look on their face was like.

Clark H Smith

What works for you?  How do you take the pressure off a marital spat... besides assuring your partner that you are correct and they are wrong?  Jump on the Follow Illustrated Facebook page and share your wisdom for making a happy marriage.

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