My dear friend Kelly is a true gem. Walking through wounds of her past with love and healing. She has wisdom to share about defensiveness and how it may be the lie your are believing that is keeping you from connection. Angela~
The Divisiveness of Defensiveness
by Kelly Shaum
Jesus said turn the other cheek. I don’t think that he said that so that we would be vulnerable or weak in the presence of our enemies. I think that he said that because he knew that getting in defense can be more harmful to us spiritually and emotionally then the slap in the face.
I “ran” from God in my early adulthood, over woundings that happened in my youth. It took me 12 years to get back in church and it took 4 more years for me to finally understand the cascade of events and reactions that led me down that path.
I don’t want to rehash exactly what happened, because I am sure it’s a fairly common story. We don’t always know how, what we say will be received, and sometimes harshness for the sake of expediency can cause more harm than good. With that said, I responded in the only way I knew. I became defensive. I pulled up my walls and prepared for a siege.
This is a normal response, we all instinctively want to protect the wound. If a child cuts their finger they won’t want to show it to someone to clean and bandage it because it may hurt more in the process. As you mature you learn to quickly allow someone to help because you understand the bigger picture. Infection, festering. You can’t heal what you won’t reveal. Emotional maturity works in much the same way, but it is a lot harder to achieve because every minute that we sit in defense, we deprive ourselves of fruit and growth in the area that we are defending.
Thats a hard thing to read….. I know, but it is the truth.
The analogy of a siege is appropriate because, in short burst, defenses are good, you outlast the enemy and get back to the business of living. But over a long siege, the food that is stored will be gone and sickness and starvation become commonplace. You become paranoid and untrusting because the perceived enemy is always trying to breach your walls.
The bottom line is that defensiveness takes away your ability to get the wound healed. It makes feel like you have to protect the wound. In emotional terms this means that you have to justify the wound. You cannot acknowledge any fault in your behavior because you are too busy defending it. You get to be a justified victim and you don’t have to grow or change. More importantly, living in defensiveness makes you lash out, at others. Causing more wounds. Think of a cornered animal, who is attacking anyone who would come to save them. This just perpetuates separation.
For me, it looked like this. I decided to associate the wound with the Church. I became angry and judgemental of all churches. I knew that it was not God’s nature, but still my ability to connect with God was directly affected, by my choices. I started to associate things with God that were never His doing and I rejected anything that didn’t line up with my defensive thoughts. It was a reactionary, and unhealthy. In my defensiveness, I would argue that the church was hypocritical and I would actively dissuade people from engaging with God in that manner and I lashed out at anyone who tried to convince me differently.
It took years and years of God slowly chipping away at the foundations of my defensiveness, for me to finally start moving toward Him again. He showed me that I was believing a whole lot of lies about the church and about myself. I was able to forgive and let go of past bitterness because He put people in my life that loved me in ways that I didn’t understand. When I look back to see how far I have come, I see a decade of misery. I see depression, and unhappiness and a lack of dreaming and creativity. I see existence, survival, without hope and without direction.
When you are defending a wound you are defending a lie, and you have to let Him see the lie so that He can replace it with His truth.
My hard won revelation, started when I let my walls come down and I decided that I would let God be my defender. He gave me a brain and a heart, and the more I pursued Him and His heart for me, the easier it became to sort through all of the lies that don’t line up with who He is and who I am. It’s a never ending process because He is constantly teaching, patiently and with great joy and it’s full of excitement and mystery.
The closer you are to someone, the easier it is to get in defense especially when your past experiences inform your present circumstances. But love will allow you room to relinquish pride and assumptions. If you ask God, he will give you a value for connection and remind you when your defense is up.
We are all flawed and fall short, and sometimes people can hurt you. That is the nature of the world, but God wants to protect you. God can heal all wounds and He wants to restore you. Not just restore but to teach you so that you may live from a higher place than where you started. He wants to take the cracks in your china and fill them with gold so they are more valuable than they were to begin with. There is a beauty in the way He works and it is indescribable. Most importantly, He wants to show you how to love without control or defensiveness, not so you will be vulnerable or weak, but because He loves you that way.