Random Blog Clay Feet: November 17, 2007
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Random Thoughts on Force and Maturity

Here's a thought that condensed in my mind the other day while I was driving.

Force is the lethal ingredient that poisons otherwise life-giving formulas/principles of God's creation and design.

For instance, when any amount of force is used to coerce someone to trust you, the eventual result may be anger. In my experience this led me to become easily angered if someone does not trust me. In looking back wondering where this illogical anger comes from I realize that authority figures in my life have used force to try to get me to trust them. In modeling this to me I became wired in some way to do the same to others.

Over the past few days I have been collecting various ideas that mesh together from what I am learning from various sources. It may not be well polished but is simply and expression of what I am currently learning.

Force and anger usually go hand in hand.

Mixing force with otherwise benign elements contaminates them and distorts our picture of God.

I think that somewhere in the mix here there is also shame involved, but I don't know how much. It probably varies depending on the person and the circumstance. But part of force is the use of shame if someone does not do what we want them to do and then some people react to shame with anger.

Anger is a symptom that things are not as we want them to be. What we want may or may not be legitimate, but nevertheless we are out of balance and the resulting tension is described as anger.

Anger is experienced and expressed in many different ways and often goes unnoticed for a long time even by the person experiencing it. But anger that is left unresolved creates a lot of resistors in our soul and those resistors produce heat that creates more and more problems in our life.

Lies are like resistors. They act as distorting lenses that mess up our vision both of ourselves and of others. Lies very often lie at the root of anger and usually we blame others for our anger instead of looking inside and taking responsibility for what is causing the heat inside of us that we call anger. But as long as we look outside of ourselves for the cause of anger we cannot take ownership and responsibility for the resistors inside of us that need to be exposed and expelled so that we can experience true peace and rest.

Immaturity plays a big part in all of this. The more anger, force, shame etc. that we employ and indulge in the more immature we find ourselves to be. Unfortunately an immature person seldom can see their own immaturity and so they fail to see their need to change. They typically point to those around them as the cause of the issues in their life instead of recognizing that it is really themselves that need to grow up more and perceive things differently. It is almost like a catch 22 – the immature do not have enough perspective to see immaturity and so they feel no need to change. They can only see immaturity in those less mature than themselves which often is not very much because they are so far down in maturity already there is not much below them.

The more mature a person becomes the easier it becomes for them to recognize and acknowledge immaturity and the need to grow and change. They get an expanded picture of reality and they can see that they have a lot of weak areas that need to be challenged and developed. They also become more and more tolerant of others and more patient with those who are less mature because they see how difficult it is for one to see their own blind spots. Duh!

Seeing immaturity in others is often a good way to begin to see it in ourselves if we are willing to shine the light back into our own thinking and logic. When we see others demonstrating immature behavior that really irritates us quite likely there is a similar area of immaturity within our own lives or it would not be so irritating to us. But if we understand this principle and are willing to apply it to our lives instead of focusing on the problems of others it can become an opportunity to begin to see our blind spots and they are not so hidden anymore. Maybe that is one form of accountability when you don't have anyone else who you can relate to that will hold you accountable in a positive way.

That sort of leads me back to the original issue of force. Accountability is another example of something that can be very easily poisoned by the use of force in even small doses. Force against someone else's will can very quickly destroy trust which is the crucial ingredient for a successful accountability relationship. But it is also true that one could be accused of using force when a person being held accountable does not like what they are hearing and wants to deny or reject it instead of growing through it. When we resist the process of maturing we often blame it on others using force against us when it is actually us using force to resist their efforts to help us grow up more.

The healthy process of maturing requires trust in another person's perspective and experience even when it does not feel good to us. If we rebel against everything that makes us uncomfortable what we are really doing is insisting on remaining immature. Then we have to justify our immaturity with all sorts of explanations and convoluted reasoning that is really a means of self-deception which is very eagerly assisted by the agents of evil who are very skilled at helping us along this path. But the results are that our relationships with others remained strained and we fail to grow along with those around us who do not want to remain at lower levels of maturity. Often it forces a wedge between friendships which ultimately result in fractures and breakdowns altogether if we insist on remaining in our self-justifying immaturity. Of course we will likely blame others for not relating properly to us but the real fact is that we are still refusing to face our own inner issues and grow through them because we are afraid of the pain of growth. Ultimately we are responsible for our own issues first.

It has been said that the only thing we are afraid of is how we are going to feel. Maybe what we need is a larger vision of reality so that we can become more attracted to how good we will feel after we grow through the pain and live more fulfilled lives in a higher stage of maturity.

A very common problem is that we try to focus attention of other people's problems while not facing our own. While it is true that God may use us to help others deal with their issues many times, we will be incapable and not credible if we are stonewalling on the same issues in our own life. We need the community of faith and others who are more mature to help us see the areas where we are failing to grow or recognize and face our own blind spots.

Maturity in many respects is learning to see life from a larger perspective while at the same time discovering our true identity and then learning how to act like ourselves (our true identity) under all circumstances and in all emotions. Learning how to act like yourself means that you do not act any differently when you are in any emotion than you would if you were not in that emotion. Which also means that you are not living in reaction to your emotions or to what others do or say to you but you respond from the context of your true identity no matter how you feel.

A person who reacts all the time is often manipulated by others even though they may not believe that or may resent the notion. They are also people who generally seek to control others using similar methods but again are unaware that they are doing this and often strongly deny it. But a person who lives under the slavery of emotions and reactions is not living in freedom and cannot experience true peace. They are infected with the poison of force. There is a lot of resistance in their life and consequently a lot of heat is often generated as well.

A person who is growing and maturing is learning the difference between reacting and responding. To respond to a circumstance or tense situation that ignites our emotions is to exercise our power of higher thinking and utilize our kingly power of choice to override our impulses to react. This requires the context of more settled thinking, a reasonable good realization of who we really are – our design for which we were created – and a confidence and assurance of our value and worth, especially in the eyes of God. It does not mean living a left-brained oriented life based on rules and facts. We must develop a healthy balance of use of both sides our our being with our heart in its proper place of leadership. But we learn to separate or de-link emotions in such a way that they do not dictate what we choose. That is definitely not to say that we suppress or deny that we have emotions. In fact, it often means that we acknowledge them immediately and recognize them for what they are but also choose to remember who we really are outside of the influence of that emotion.

A person who depends on using force to get what they desire is an immature person who is acting like a spoiled child. They may conceal and use very polite and polished ways of forcing their own desires on others but their dependence on force is still a sign of weakness, fear and insecurity. This condition is not helped by imposing shame or heaping blame on the person – even if the person is ourself. It is healthy, however, to recognize the reality of our situation so that we can begin to seek help and deal with the roots of our insecurity and fears so that this symptom of trying to control behavior can begin to subside and we can begin to experience real peace, both within ourselves and in our relationships with others.

(for another post I just finished on similar ideas see November 2)