Top-Shelf Reaction

Naturally, I strive to maintain a presentation and attitude of joyful positivity. Even when that’s the opposite to what I feel. All I’ve ever known is to put on a smile and persevere. As a strong enneagram number 9w1 with INFP personality type, expressing my actual emotions can be a struggle. And if you don’t follow all those personality studies, I promise you don’t need to know it to read this post!

I view this tendency as a resilient gift until it becomes socially and psychologically detrimental. If my emotions become too heightened before I’m aware and proactive to express them healthily (prayerfully), then they rise to the surface, in the form of reaction.

This specific reacting is a response in weakness to anything negative. Any challenge, change, hurt, or trauma that isn’t intentionally (and prayerfully) responded to. Reacting, rather, causes me to pull away from people, take matters into my own hands, and distort my identity.

My only hope: I desperately need Jesus’ saving hand to steady me right at the onset of my reactions. I’m blessed to be learning this deeper and more strategically alongside the Holy Spirit as situations demand. His wisdom is faithful and ready to blow through the fog, revealing the clear, peaceful reality that never left- even amidst the chaotic situations.

The visual of reactive life:

Looking through tunneled lens, the child begins gathering relative information. She scavenges the libraries, databases, and draws up calculated plans. Whatever it takes to resolve the present situation. Her studies conclude that the best outcome she could get is a ticket placed all the way on the top shelf of the tall cabinets in her kitchen.

This shelf being almost 5 times taller than her, she’s confident to get stronger or smarter, whatever it takes, to reach that ticket.

She comes to find that she’s not strong enough. After exhausting herself with reaching, climbing cabinets, falling down, bruising bones, standing as tall as she can, jumping up, then falling all over again. Discouragement and lies from her opponent fill the air in her lungs. She can hardly breathe anymore as accusations of weakness and failure become her belief of identity.

She’s always known her Father is stronger than her though.

“God I know you’re strong enough to help me get this,” She proudly announces as she’s still wobbling on her tiptoes, reaching.

What she doesn’t realize is that ticket she’s stressing and hurting over, is so much less than what God promised for her. While she reacted so quick to find out where a solution was, she forgot to ask where He placed her freedom ticket. It’s not long before she incurs even more injuries from the slip-ups of her striving.

“My God, why won’t you take this struggle from me so I don’t keep getting hurt?! Do you even hear me, are you even there?” She begins questioning her Father, in turn accepting the enemy’s enticing lies about herself. The trickster gains territory to convince her that she is in fact, alone, that her Father surely abandoned her and that it’s all in her own strength now. A strength that’s already so feeble from the start.

The physical and mental infliction left her in a broken mess on the floor. Even if she had anymore strength left in her bones to keep persevering, the belief of being so incapable overpowered. It took form of a stone-weighted blanket holding her there.

She finds freedom when she lets go of her expectations, renounces her efforts, and returns the control to her Creator.

“Father God, I can’t do it. I’m humiliated, alone, and I’m sorry I ever thought I could do it on my own. If you’re willing, save me from this mess I created for myself. You are God, and I am not, I have nothing left but you. I thought I could fix things and reach the top-shelf, like everyone expected me to. But if you want me to learn something here on the floor first, I’ll listen to whatever you have for me. Change my heart to want your solution, not the one I’m reaching for, because clearly it’s not working.”

Psalm 51:17 “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

He’s about to pull her into a whole new freedom, above and beyond that ticket or anything it had to offer.

We have a God of abundance and mercy, hallelujah! This is the part in the story where the enemy loses! With God’s victorious power, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the grave. Pulling each of us out of our graves along with Him, ascending us on His wings, full of the Holy Spirit.

In the moment of our darkest hour, when it feels like you’re sinking in the anxiety of it all, call out to Jesus in desperation. Just as Peter did when he was drowning:

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:28-31.

When Jesus comes to the rescue, I hear Him ask me this same thing, why did you doubt that we could walk on water together? Why did you have to go out on your own searching for answers when we could’ve been walking together above the waves of your situations, feelings, and experiences?

God’s proved this to me over and over again. He takes me from the broken mess on the floor where I cried out in desperation for what I thought I needed on the shelf; to transforming me into a new creation that longs for His unseen wonders.

I’ve witnessed Him, like with Peter, immediately take me from the floor, to ascend out of that building entirely, breaking through the ceiling, and showing me the freedom there is in His love.

This freedom is a limitless soaring through the expansive, effervescent skies. If there’s a closer experience we can have to that of a bird flying across the sun-setting sky with no worries, it would be the experience of God’s unfailing love.

In what the enemy tried lying to me, saying my situations would never change, God not only restored, but restored in abundance and in a fraction of the time. And I know He’ll do it again.

“How long must I wrestle in my soul, with sorrow in my heart each day? How long will my enemy dominate me? See me and respond,O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death, lest my enemy say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes rejoice when I fall. But I have trusted in Your loving devotion; my heart will rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me.”

Psalm 13:2-6

Image Credits:

  1. Scaccia, A. (2019, April 10). How to Discipline a 2-Year-Old Child. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/discipline-2-year-old#1

3. © Yongsung Kim

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