A friend of mine went to a Dave Ramsey Financial Seminar. Ramsey made the statement that letting go of money is going to hurt, period. We have the choice of experiencing the immediate hurt by using a cash system which means we feel the pain as soon as the money leaves our hands or we can choose to put off experiencing the pain by using credit cards, loans, etc. But the truth is, we may delay the immediate pain, but the pain will come….but now with a lot of built-up interest and fees!! The pain that comes with waiting is much worse than the pain of immediately paying for something!
This is what came together in my mind. We know that God has laws and principles for relationships and emotions just as He does for every other area of life. It seems to me there are consequences for every action we can make—good, bad and everything in between. Some choices are nearly inconsequential; however, others are life-changing. Like it’s been said, we can choose, but we can’t choose the consequences.
Just as it can be painful learning to let go of money in finances, learning to face conflict in relationships is also painful. And we have the same choice. We can deal with conflict immediately and feel the pain right away by not letting the sun go down upon our wrath, or we can mishandle it by delaying and/or stuffing our feelings, or doing whatever else comes naturally to us.
Stuffing feelings and choosing to delay conflict is just like using an emotional credit card. We start that habit because it feels less painful, but just like credit cards, stuffing and avoiding only delay the pain, it doesn’t cancel it. When payment comes due (in other words, finally resolving the problem), just like interest and fees will inflate your balance on your credit card, the emotional cost of avoiding conflict also becomes much higher.
I listened to Josh McDowell’s audio book Right From Wrong on a trip to IN. This is one thing he said he explained to his son, trying to prepare him for life.
If you make a right choice, you will notice that almost immediately you experience a negative benefit.
If you make a wrong choice, almost immediately you experience a positive benefit.
For example, if you lie or cheat, immediately there is a positive benefit. You didn’t get into trouble, you passed the test, etc. But in the long run, lying and cheating are devastating to you.
If you choose not to lie, there are immediate negative benefits—you are grounded, you are disciplined, etc, but if you choose not to lie, in the long run, it is good for you!
Apply this to any weakness in your life. It’s so easy to make wrong or hurtful choices because we immediately experience a positive benefit! My family and I have codependent traits. We are caring loving people. But if you move into codependency, it’s very detrimental to your relationships. For years I made many wrong choices in regard to conflict because I didn’t want to experience the immediate pain. Because of preferring the immediate positive benefits, I began to develop habits of avoiding and stuffing. Books on codependency talk about “recovery”. Recovery is simply the process of unlearning all those harmful habits and retraining your emotional reactions with truth! It takes TIME!! And it can be painful!! But if we want to become healthy, we’ve got to go through the time of recovery.
The concept of recovery is valid for many areas. If we are in trouble financially, recovery is the painful process of getting the bills current again, of developing a budget, of seeing the fallacies in your thinking, of figuring out ways of holding yourself accountable, etc. If you have a habit of overeating, recovery will be the process of facing your reality, of learning all you can learn about food, diet, your health, your reasons for eating—everything! It will involve developing good habits to replace the old ones. Sometimes the issue is not necessarily calories, but of making food choices that are good for us! That is not easy!
Recovery must be practiced to become free from alcoholism, drug abuse, porn, workaholism, I believe homosexuality, and many other habits. I’m not talking about just stopping drinking, or stopping drug abuse, or avoiding an action–recovery is learning how to live a healthy life in all areas! It probably will mean the healing of some areas of our past too.
I hope this doesn’t depress you, but many credible authors say, and it’s been my experience, recovery of any sort does seem to take as long to get out of as it took to get into the place you are now. Not that you are at the same place the whole time…we’re moving up the spiral…but it does take time!!
Again, for those of you who are younger, believe and internalize God’s Word!!! Know what the Bible says–McDowell says God’s laws are for our provision and our protection. That is so true!!
For those of us in the middle of a personal battle, think long-term! Learn all you can about yourself. Ask God honest questions. He will answer. And don’t be afraid of “practicing” recovery. That’s what we do in our Christian life! Recovery is just a secular word for the process of becoming a mature healthy individual. Spiritually we call it discipleship, becoming a mature Christian, etc. Emotionally, it also takes time and practice to change our habits, feelings and misbeliefs by putting emotional truth into our minds! We are what we do.