Thursday, July 10, 2008

Getting Rid of Distractions

Fear, worry, and anxiety are my besetting sins. This has become an increasingly real fact of my life as I have gotten older. I don’t know if growing up necessarily affords for more occasions to fear, but in my case I have been hit with it more and more. I have been reading through David Powlison’s book, Seeing with New Eyes, and his insights have been extremely helpful as I battle my own tendency towards anxiety.

Powlison teaches the biblical counselor to ask probing questions of the person who is struggling with sin. Probing questions can reveal behavioral patterns that simply mask the sin instead of face the sin. In my case I realized that instead of facing my anxiety I distract myself. One of the ways I do this is by turning on the television. Whenever I am staying alone I turn the TV immediately. I try to find some mindless sitcom or movie that will get my mind off the fact that I am afraid and allow me to enter another world. The problem is when I go to bed the “other world” of the movie is inside the TV, and I am faced with the reality that I am scared. So I replay that movie in my head until I lull myself to sleep. But this does nothing for the fear itself. It simply covers it with something else. When I distract myself I am merely pretending that it is gone until the next time when it resurfaces, usually in a stronger capacity.

Distraction is a much easier way to deal with sin. We see this all of the time with parents and unruly toddlers. Instead of teaching a child to sit still at the dinner table, the mother or father simply gives them many toys to play with while dinner is being served, so that the child will cause minimal problems at the table. It’s not dealing with the issue; it’s masking it with a distraction.

In my own life I realize that it is much harder to face the sin of fear and anxiety because often the fear does not go away immediately. I might have to face a few sleepless nights praying Scripture through my worry in order to find true freedom, but it is the only way to true freedom. My creation of distractions is really the creation of an idol. Something other than God is my hope in the midst of fear, and that is blasphemous against my Creator who has only called me to fear one thing—Himself. Fundamentally my fear and anxiety is unbelief in God. When I turn the lights out at night, when I go to the store alone, when I fly in an airplane, I do not trust that the One who holds the universe is in his hand will uphold me. All of my actions are manifestations of a heart condition that reveals distrust in my Savior. Overcoming fear is not a matter of exerting will power. It is pinpointing the root cause of my unbelief in God.

Thankfully we serve a God who does not allow us to continue in our sins. He is merciful to us, even when we seek everything else but him. I pray that the next time I am faced with fear I will have the grace to crucify the distractions and fear only the One worth all of my fear and worship.


Waldemar Family said...

Ouch! That hits way too close to home for me. I'm convicted. Good post.

stephanie said...

Thanks for this post! Good stuff.

love you lots!