The Cliff Edge of Choice

Have you ever had a dramatic response to something quite small? Has this been a repeated scenario? Perhaps even other people have added to your identity, "Philippa, the emotional one, the explosive one, the angry one..."

Was it after a seemingly small aggravation, a circumstance that was irritating, but you completely “lost it,” and afterwards, looking back you were completely befuddled as to what really upset you? It was such a small thing after all!

“You say I have a choice but there was no space to make that choice, now what? I simply responded automatically, what responsibility do I have when I just can’t stop?”

Just recently someone said something to me that took me over a week to recover from. It really touched a nerve. It rubbed something deep inside that triggered a really angry, hurt reaction.  This “something” had taken me back to many years of my own patterned reactions. It had touched the wounds, buried deep of rejection and abandonment.  I “felt” I had no choice but to react explosively, to repeat and rehearse the hurt over and over again. I “fled” to the edge of my cliff and was in such a state of heightened reaction, I figuratively jumped off the edge and fell into a spiral of such negativity, bitterness, anger and frustration.

I am really grateful that this time I called out to a couple of friends, who prayed for me.  I cried out to Jesus myself because I no longer wanted to have this pattern of response.  I needed to be able to stop at the edge of the cliff, long enough to recognize that there was the possibility of a different choice to make. Another way of looking at this was that I was beginning to trust God with the circumstance.  I began to sense the burden lift, as I was willing to look at my responses and go to the cross and talk to Jesus about the sinful responses I had my part, my responsibility.  Jesus would deal with the other person. Not my job. 

(Matthew 7; James 4:12)

Something remarkable began to happen. I began to separate the circumstance (not my responsibility this time) from my reactions (my responsibility).  This gave way to space for Christ to begin His work of healing (still ongoing).  It was as if I had started to run from the pain of the circumstance into my own ugly responses (anger, eating, using) and then suddenly was able to stop and see a different path, which led eventually to a different response.  God had provided the way of escape from the usual spiral of negativity.

The stopping involved courage.  It meant looking at the circumstance, trusting God with the pain of it and telling Him that I no longer wanted to live life out of this pain anymore.  Asking Him to set me free.  After all, you can remind Him that He died so you can be free. Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free…” (Please seek help if you need to.)

  • Ponder: Are you in a pattern of repeated automatic negative responses and thought patterns as a result of certain circumstances?
  • Action: Seek godly friends to share and pray with.  Cry out to God for Him to help create a space to stop and choose a different response. It is possible.
  • Challenge: You may still have to meet with someone like a counsellor to gain more understanding of the triggers and wounds but this is a place to start. Memorize these two verses and say them repeatedly to your own soul:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13
  • Prayer: Help me Lord to trust you with all the circumstances and my own sinful responses; past, present and future.  I desire to walk in you, fully obedient in my reactions. Amen