It is amazing how much the experiences of our youth can affect us over the remainder of our lives.
I was reminded of this recently in an article I read on relationships. It talked about the triggers that were developed early in our lives, and how they continue to affect how we view current circumstances and situations that show any similarity to those we experienced early on.
An example for me is, I had parents that were perpetually late, and it caused a deep seated frustration for me that is hard to let go of now many decades later. Even today, if I am “late” for a meeting that did not have a specific start time, I still begin to sweat and feel agitated; even, knowing that I am not really late.
Tom Bradbury, a professor at UCLA coined a phrase I have found to be most intriguing. He called these trigger points – “enduring vulnerabilities”. If you stop for a few minutes and ponder those words, I think you may come to see how well he has hit the nail on the head. We often react to these trigger situations even when we don’t want to.
Paul talked about these problems in the seventh chapter of his book to the Romans:
15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who does it, but it is sin living in me that do it.
The difference between Paul’s writing then and modern day thinking is that now psychology is seen as the answer to these issues. Psychologists have done some good work in helping us understand how we tick, but they come at it from a different perspective. With them, the solution to fixing the duality of our nature can be found within. They tell us that if we can understand the reasons for why we react as we do, then we can rationally find the strength to stop our reaction.
If only it were that simple. As Paul stated, “we end up doing what we don’t want to do”. Unfortunately, it is too easy to look for the cure in the wrong place.
The strength to change how we have been “hardwired” normally cannot be found within us. Instead, we need a power from outside of ourselves, that is larger than us, in order to make a lasting change.
Simply put, it is one thing to know that we have an issue, but it is another thing altogether to have the power to change it.
As Christians, psychology cannot be the answer to these larger issues – those deep seated issues that we all have. For these, our hope for real change can only lie with Him who holds the power to renew our nature.
… and so asking for His help with these cases is our only lasting cure.