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Can You Take the Pressure?

When the pressure is on, not everyone responds the same way. Some people buckle under the weight of it. They go along to get along. They quickly submit and get pushed around. They keep their heads down and live to cower another day.

Maybe if I just do what’s expected of me, they’ll leave me alone.

Others have the exact opposite reaction. They rebel against the pressure. They let circumstances work them into a frenzy. They’re not putting up with anything from anybody.

You think you can push me around Mr. Tough Guy? Think again.

These two responses – fight or flight – are basic, instinctual. They’re the easiest, most natural responses in our repertoire. Which one you pick just depends on personality and experience. When our backs are against the wall, we all experience the urge either to run away or turn and fight.

But there’s another response available to us. There is an alternative to the fight-or-flight polarity of stressful, threatening situations.

It starts with a decision to know who we truly are, down in our bones. We can dwell in that. Nothing can shake our core value, our essential spirit: our identity as beloved children of God.

When we’re rooted in that life, when we know who we are, ain’t nobody gonna rock us. We won’t be the people who get pushed around, tossed by every wind. Nor will we be doing the shoving ourselves, all reaction and no reflection.

We’ll stick around – firm, friendly, and unafraid. We’ll bear the burden – neither collapsing nor striking back. We’ll be the pillar that upholds real human community, despite all its messiness. We’ll live in the power that allows organizations to thrive, efforts to be sustained, communities to grow.

Despite all the pressures bearing down on us, we’ll remain rooted. Trusting. Joyful.

We’ll be able to give an answer for the hope that is within us: I am a beloved child of God, and I live in his unshakable power.

Fear can’t touch that.

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Why Conflict is Good for Us

How Can I Tell if I’m Codependent?

  • Dale Graves

    This one’s a keeper. Thanks Micah.

  • Micah, this week I faced one such situation. At first a reacted with “fight” and then with “flight.” I failed at both. Though I intellectually understand your third option, it is hard to do in the emotion of the moment!


      That’s because most textbooks ignore the Freeze option!

    • I agree that it’s hard. I struggle with it immensely! I think it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit, and hopefully a habit that is built up within us over time as we un-learn our knee-jerk reactions and become non-reactive people.

  • Kitt Reidy

    Fear can’t touch that thought. Sure. But if you are a black person, a cop’s bullet can rip through your body now matter how serene you are. If you are homeless, the cement on the streests is still cold, even if you are a child of God. And if you are person with a disability who has no voice, you can still be assaulted or abused and no one will believe you, as the “mentally ill person” even if you know that you are God’s daughter.

    When the marginlized in the bible called out for Jesus’s help, I don’t remember him dismissing their pain. I do recall that he healed people BEFORE he told them to go in peace. As Christians, we need to be responding to people’s cries for help in a cruel world, not evaluating those cries.

    If you have a choice not to fight or fly, consider it is because you are in a position in whose actual survival is not at stake. And then yes, maybe then you have a choice, but not because you are Christian, but because you have privelge. I know many people who are beloved children of God that have legimate fears in this world. If people need to flight or fly from a racist society, abuse in their own faith community or other kinds of violence, it is not that they aren’t faithful, it is that they are actually being oppressed and abused. Their survival and the survival of people in their communty is actually at stake.