By Rev. Keith Heermann
“Hagar…where have you come from, and where are you going?”
A bee stung my sister when she was just a little girl. And to this day, she has a “flight” (“It’s going to sting me!”) reaction when a buzzing bee gets close to her.
Recently, I had a “fight” encounter. I bumped our stone retaining wall with my mower and the stones fell. Rats. What a mess; why was I so careless; how am I going to fix this? I confess, I mumbled a bunch to myself all while I tried to reassemble that wall…and it still doesn’t look right…so the mumbling continues.
Flight or fight memories…some haunt while others trigger a warm smile, a chuckle or a red-faced blush. It’s the memories that keep the internal conversation going.
Flee from your avengers: Hagar did this. Abraham’s unborn child was in her womb as she fled from Sarah’s revenge–adrenalin raced through her body as she tearfully ran into the harsh desert alone (Genesis 16:6 NIV).
Fight your enemies: David felt rage toward people who hated him–“See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me!” (Psalms 25:16-21 NIV).
What are some things that fuel “flight” or “fight”?
First, telling yourself, “I’m not going to stay around and take this hostile abuse.” Or, “I’ve had enough; I’m gonna leave God’s people altogether.”
Second, telling yourself, “I’m going to get revenge for this hurt and humiliation… you just wait and see!”
So, what do you say to yourself in times of “flight” or “fight”? And, what can you do?
First, tell yourself this – I must immediately manage my thinking and words or I’ll succumb to a crummy attitude and negative behavior. If you choose to humble yourself and ask for God-enabled control over your thinking and words, you can find the courage to win these battles time after time.
Second, tell yourself this–If I run from God’s people, God’s presence, and God’s promises it will only lead to more hurt and humiliation. Your goal must be to “stop, think, and make a resolve.” Resolve that you will ask God to help you get a grip on the right thing(s)…all of His resources. Then depend on those resources and that grip until your spirit dominates the “flight lifestyle” of Hagar and the “fight lifestyle” of David.
And lastly, tell yourself this, you must avoid the snare of violence against yourself or others. No good can come from engaging in aggressive, abusive behavior since it emotionally, physically, and spiritually violates God’s principles. Full stop!
So, here’s the point.
Say “No” to flight and fight and “Yes” to God’s resources (His promises and His grip on you). John said it plainly. “…you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory…because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world” (1 John 4:4 NLT).
Where are you coming from, and where are you going? Dealing with “flight and fight” behavior can help you where you are and where you are going.
Rev. Keith Heermann serves as the Executive Vice President for Global University.