Originally published on April 15, 2020
In the Grip
One thing that I love most about God’s creative design is the fact that we are all so incredibly unique and different. You might find people you have things in common with or who have similar personalities, but there is no one out there just like you. All of your past experiences, passions, gifts and personality come together to create something that is one of a kind. After living with yourself for a while, you develop a fairly knowledgeable understanding of all the intricacies that make up the wonderful and amazing thing that is you. You know what makes you tick. You become well aware of where your weaknesses lie. You know what brings you joy.
Part of God’s detailed design for you is a personality that functions in a certain way. Have you ever been frustrated with someone because they aren’t considering all the possibilities and consequences that come with making a certain decision. They seem to make big decisions on the spur of the moment. Or maybe you get frustrated because they won’t make a decision at all. They keep collecting more information and never have enough to make an informed choice. These frustrations are intimately connected with the God given design of those that we find ourselves in conflict with. We are all different. We were created differently. These personality differences are not issues of right or wrong. It is just different. Some people are introverts while others extroverts. Some see the big picture and others see the details. Some individuals are driven to make decisions by their feelings and some by logical thought.
God has designed each of us with unique personality traits. When you live and make decisions according to your personality design, things usually go fairly well. If you are an introvert and your job forces you to meet new people all the time, that is going to become very draining and require you to spend a lot of energy to do that well. Functioning within your personality type takes the least amount of emotional, mental and spiritual energy. Functioning outside your personality type can be emotionally draining and taxing on your overall feelings of success and accomplishment.
So how do our personalities affect what happens when we experience high levels of stress and unpredictability? When things in life begin to spin out of control, something deep inside your body and soul says the way you normally handle these things is not working so it needs to try something different. As a result, we may attempt to function opposite of your normal personality type. This reaction is usually really ugly and mostly unproductive. When we fall into the grip of these stresses, we usually react in a way that is uncharacteristic and unproductive because we are trying to function in a way that is opposite of how God has designed us.
I am incredibly laid back. Not much gets me worked up. I don’t usually feel deeply in sad situations or get all giddy in happy situations. I am kind of even keel. However, when I get stressed out or am faced with a frustrating situation, if I fall into the grip I will give a level 10 response to a level 2 situation. All of the sudden Mr. EvenKill is yelling and screaming. I act in way that isn’t myself. People might even say “What is wrong? You don’t seem like yourself.” The longer I am in the grip the uglier it gets.
The last month has basically created the perfect storm. Lock the whole family up, mix in a little fear and anxiety, sprinkle uncertainty over the top, and you get a house full of people who are in the grip and trying to cope by functioning outside their God given design.
It is important to understand and know yourself well enough to see when you are starting to fall into the grip. If you don’t recognize it, Mr. Hyde comes out to play. Becoming more in tune with stress can help you to find ways to relieve the stress so that it doesn’t come out sideways at other people. It is a vicious cycle. When you are in the grip, you don’t function well which causes more stress and the grip tightens more.
Take some time to ponder these verses.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Luke 12:25
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Allowing God to move into your stress and anxiety will help you to slide out of the grip and back into a place where you can function in a way that is more productive. When you look into the mirror and don’t recognize who you see, it is a good sign that you are in the grip. Step back. Slow down. Take a couple of deep breathes. Spend some time in prayer and allow God to move into your anxiety.