Fight OR Flight?

Have you ever experienced a threatening situation where you felt you had only two options of response – either stand your ground and fight or turn and run away? According to research, this is an innate physiological response called fight or flight, and the threat can be either physical or mental/emotional.

Although it’s hard to admit, I’m dealing with the emotional kind. This wasn’t a personal assault, but it felt like it. It involved an activity I am passionate about and people I believe I need to protect. This morning, I am writing in real-time, and as I travel through this experience, I’d like you to walk with me.

In the heat of the moment, I wanted to fight, and I might have if the person had been talking directly to me. However, they were speaking to an audience of whom I was one. Like a blast of icy air, their words struck me. The jolt made me furious and after my initial thought of, “How dare you,” everything in me said, “Run!” I almost got up and walked out, though I didn’t. I felt it improper etiquette. So there I sat, up in arms, analyzing every word.

In reality, I don’t like to fight, or in this case, confront, but I don’t want to run completely away either, because it would mean leaving people I love. Then what do I do with this? Does “fight or flight” have to be my only response options? Is there a third? And if there is, will it help me to grant charity and extend grace when I’ve lost respect?

As a true believer in Jesus Christ, there’s always another way. What I found is this third, and best option mirrors the flight response. However, rather than running from something I’m running to someone: The One True and Living God, for He, is my help and shield.[1] Only in Him can I take steps toward understanding why He allowed this and what He is trying to teach. In Him, my emotions will heal. He will make sense of what I heard, and He will lead me to resolve it or make a way of escape.[2]

Lord, where do I start? What steps do I take? Do I sweep this thing under the rug and ignore it? Do I set up a meeting? Can I give this person the benefit of the doubt? Help me, please. I feel like I’m drowning.

It’s been a week since the initial affront, and while my frustration has mellowed, my concern remains. In prayer and surrender, I’ve felt the Lord leading me to ask the person what they meant by their statement. I may have misunderstood. We are both believers, and Jesus says, “Love one another.”[3] We should be able to resolve this amicably. Nevertheless, I must do it in a non-threatening way. If I approach in fight-mode, they will become defensive, put up a wall, and not answer. Therefore, the when, where, and how of this is crucial.

Lord, please go before me and be my rear guard.[4] “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; …see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”[5] Prepare our two hearts to hear and help us to understand. Guard my lips, O Lord.[6] Allow Your Word, hidden in my heart, to speak, that my words may be loving and grace-filled.

Three days have now passed since the Lord led me to ask, and I’m happy to say my heart is settled. I didn’t misunderstand, but Almighty God taught me much in dealing with sharp differences of opinion. I am able to agree to disagree gracefully, to forgive, and regain respect. When I yielded to this Holy God Most High, He took control. To Him be all glory!

Thank you for accompanying me as I sought my Lord’s will. What He did for me, He will do for you if and when you need it, because, with God, all things are possible.[7]

[1] Psalm 33:20
[2] I Corinthians 10:13
[3] John 13:34
[4] Isaiah 52:12
[5] Psalm 139:23-24
[6] Psalm 141:3
[7] Matthew 19:26


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