32But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Mark 5:32-34 NIV
There is a well-established body of evidence that suggests that our deepest emotions are shaped by various events in our early developmental years. We all have a fundamental need to be loved and experience trusting relationships. When we enter the world, these fundamental needs are supposed to be provided by our parents, guardians or members of our families of origin. Sadly, for many of us, this does not occur, and we experience a significant breach in our souls that results in the establishment of an outlook that requires a way to cope. This has been referred to as the “pain” cycle*.
For some of us, our pain cycle revolves around feelings of being unloved and inadequate. For all the effort that was invested in us (or lack thereof) by our parents and family of origin, we developed a sense that love and acceptance were conditional. Our broken default is to look at every opportunity for emotional connection as an inevitable future rejection. As a result, whenever we are in conflict or stressed. this fear (of rejection) and the associated anxiety are triggered. If we allow this trigger to progress further, then a potential response (coping mechanism) could be one of withdrawal and/or performance.
But for all of us, even though we struggle with a pain cycle, there is a “peace” cycle* that is based on God’s truth about who we are. In Christ we are forgiven, loved, priceless, treasured, adequate, accepted, significant, never alone, known, celebrated, connected and wanted. (Read Ephesians 2 for a broader description of who we are in Christ.) This knowledge leads us to make a choice that is different to the one that we make in our pain cycle. For the person who struggles with a sense of inadequacy or feeling unloved, these truths lead to an acceptance that they are deeply loved by God. This in turn leads away from withdrawal and performance and towards higher levels of engagement, self-acceptance and self-compassion.
What is your pain cycle? What feelings get triggered whenever there is difficulty or stress in your life? Do you feel unloved, unworthy, insignificant, alone, worthless, inadequate, hopeless and unwanted? Do you know where these feelings come from? What are your default coping mechanisms? Do you blame others, get angry/rage, control, be sarcastic, withdraw, perform, get anxious, manipulate, isolate, get defensive and critical? Recognizing these patterns is the first step in deciding to act differently. Do a personal inventory and share it with a close friend in the faith. Just as in the passage above about the woman who had the issue of blood, God desires us to live in the freedom that was obtained by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. It is our choice.
* From the book Restoration Therapy, authors - Terry D. Hargrave & Franz Pfitzer