Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rising Above Fight or Flight

When we face fear, we face a choice. For most individuals, the choice becomes one of fight or flight. Should I buckle down and use all my human strength to get through this tough situation or should I run and avoid the problem? But this decision doesn't have to be a dualistic, even/or choice. Jesus teaches that's there's a third way that involves faith. It’s trusting in the God who knows the number of hairs on your head to protect and provide what you need. So with an active faith in God there’s no point running or hiding. God strengthens us to face our toughest situations. Indeed, Jesus teaches that the opposite of faith isn't doubt. It's worry and fear. (Matthew 6:31-34)

For individuals rebuilding lives in our Bud’s Warehouse and Baby Bud’s programs, fear often sets in at the moment of success. This reality of self-sabotage was one of the biggest surprises to me at Belay Enterprises. When an individual nears graduation from our program and starts interviewing for jobs in the community, fear of the unknown and fear of success starts overshadowing possible positive outcomes. Running becomes an attractive option. Program participants sometimes break the law because consciously or subconsciously they are more comfortable with the consequences of bad choices instead of the results of success.

A few weeks ago during a meeting of the Employment Committee of the City of Denver’s Road Home project, a staff member shared her “ah ha” moment related to a recent tour of Baby Bud’s. She said that across the many programs serving homelessness, people inevitable reach a point when they want to run. In her view, what faith-based organizations do so well is to create relationships that help overcome the flight response. She understood what lies at the core of all of our programs: the inherent nature of relationships. It is only through the support of circles of community and close one-on-one relationships that individuals can face their toughest challenges. These relationships mirror and reflect the even more important relationship with God. When these ingredients are in place, people rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness of felony convictions are on a path of healing and wholeness.

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