Monday, November 2, 2009


God speaks to me through others sometimes and yesterday was a good example. At fellowship, Josie brought a message that was meant for me (if for no one else). She described both how she has been struggling with certain emotions and how the human brain creates "cell memories" (in a very scientific yet understandable explanation!) of certain responses. These memories are actually a physical build-up of nerve cells that are activated when hit with a certain trigger, causing an automatic response. (Think about driving the same way to work everyday; if you head out on the weekend and end up at your employer, you have been a victim of automatic response caused by cell memory.)

Her point was that just because she has realized she is under the sin of a particular emotion--envy, say--and has acknowledged it, repented and moved on, her brain will easily bring it back up the next day, or the next when triggered. Reason being, her brain has developed a memory of how to respond to the triggers, even self-consciously. In order to get past the envy triggered by a certain person or thing, she has to not only repent and move on, she has to do it again and again in order to build a new cell memory of the new response--loving and celebrating the person's accomplishment instead of envying and cursing the person.

What struck me was the fact that, after I confessed my "slug secrets" to several friends (including Josie) six months or so ago, I was on an emotional high of freedom and relief, a cleansed spirit. And it lasted all of a week before I found myself falling into the same patterns and responses to triggers: distrust, deception, hiding my feelings, embarrassment at the tiniest thing. (Example: I don't trust people's motives if they are friendly to me or seem to like me. If someone expresses an interest in me or in some accomplishment, my first response is to wonder why--as opposed to thinking they truly find me interesting.)

Of course I had two-and-a-half decades of cell memory built up. It might take a while to build new ones. But the message God delivered to me through Josie was, it's time to get started.

And the way to build new responses to old triggers is to repent from these reactions, pray for a new response (and respond differently, even if only on faith) and renew my belief on a daily basis that I am a beloved child of God, not a corrupted, worthless sinner. I have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ and that covers everything from past sins to future sins, to my responses to triggers, and to every time, from twenty years ago to twenty years hence. I am free.

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