Friday, December 10, 2010


There was a man who said that if you controlled a man's heart then you controlled him as well. Every day our emotions are played upon in the world of marketing and advertising. If the company behind the ads can make you feel like you need to buy something, then they will see your dollars in your hands often enough. They want to captivate you, they want you to be their captive. If they own your heart, they will own your wallet.

We as humans do it to each other. We take things we say to one another or do to one another, and we exploit them, wave them in each others faces, and we take advantage of other people's feelings so we can get what we want out of them (which is a long list of things I will refrain from posting here). We take an emotion the other person has felt or is susceptible to feeling and use to to hold that person hostage. For example: a person I once knew was given information on how to help his marriage. He was told "it is obvious your wife feels this way, so to help her stop feeling this way, you should treat her like [this]." Defensive and angry, the man instead confronted his wife and said "Is it true you feel this way?! Is it true you are ______ and _______ ?!?! In spite of everything I do for you, you don't trust me?!" Any good counselor will tell you that this defensiveness will only push the walls up higher and make the heart harder to access, not bring about true connectivity.

And, my friends, it sadly seeps into our faith. Christianity itself has suffered greatly because of the emotional captivity some people make of it. I think back to tracts in the 80s or early 90s that were only interested in shoveling people's sins into the spotlight, exposing that person as a "rotten sinner," and convince them they were deserving of one thing only: hell. So many people were held hostage by guilt, living out their Christian lives not in a manner of freedom, but in bondage to the worry and fear they would never be good enough. Outsiders and non-believers or even those who claim faith but yet have little have a lot of discord in their lives. There is a major lack of peace simply because our every day lives are dependent on us being hostage to feelings others have placated onto ourselves or us on ourselves as a result of others influence on us. Why would they openly accept and invite further captivity, and to guilt at that, into their lives?

I know the freedom from guilt did not really come about in my own life until I had an epiphany and started to truly believe who I am. I became cognizant of  not only the abilities within me, but also of the authority I have within me, of the responsibility I have to be a whole person and share my understanding with others. It was no longer time for me to be a person who kept other people hostage, but to be someone who gave them the keys to set themselves free.

In order to connect people to faith, especially those who have none, you have to show them the solid and wide bridge they have access to (the awareness of God's power within us), not the crusty, narrow, decaying old suspension bridge (a result of only having faith in our own selves: susceptible to failure) that they better hang on to if they want to make it to the other side. There is a fortitude in one possessing a faith that can trust and can love freely, and it is enough to empower anyone to feel an ease to invest in something that can be very difficult and trying along the way. I in no way mean to say that living a faith-filled life is a casual walk in the park: it requires a higher degree of diligence, perseverance, and exertion than what we have on our own. But, that is what the community is for, that is what healthy connectivity to our faith is is: a means in which we can overcome the hardships and travesties of life and grow in strength and wisdom.

Imagine in my earlier example of the husband and wife that the husband, instead of getting defensive, instead says "I understand that you feel _____, let me show you how you can instead feel ______." Or maybe he says nothing at all but, instead, lives it out as an example of the good things his wife has access to. We are called upon to be disciples, to be shining lights, to be strength where weakness abounds, not for our own benefit, but to be an example, a guiding light and a compass pointed towards the connectivity we robbed ourselves of with the simple act of eating a little piece of forbidden fruit.

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