Practice Preparation. Seriously. Do it.

As a pastor, I often have the privilege of sitting with folks in crisis - and crises happen to all people at some time or other - whether we are prepared or not. But preparation helps. It does not avert all crises, but it can avert some and mitigate the consequences of others.

My girlfriend who keeps picking abusive husbands? She agrees and allows me to say this to you about her - she does NOT prepare. She says she is a love addict. And by that she means that she is compulsively, habitually, repetitively mesmerized by a certain type of guy who she cannot help but believe will meet all her needs for security and significance. Once the “spell” is broken (27 busted lips and a couple broken noses later), she wakes up and says, “My gosh, what was I thinking?” She wasn’t thinking; she was reacting. She was under the spell of kryptonite. The thing my friend prepares for most consistently is creating a “self” that attracts the kind of man she believes will save her. But salvation is a gift from God, so her plan is doomed from inception.

In “enneagram” language, which my friend is starting to explore, her patterns can be described like this. Her virtue is humility. She is uniquely equipped to bring humility into any tribe she joins. But when there is an assault on her virtue, when she doubts God, herself and the abundance of his love for her - she falls prey to her kryptonite. In her case, she is fixated by flattery and driven by the passion of pride. Obviously, these are antithetical to humility, which is how this stuff works. Overcome with spiritual kryptonite, she falls into a pattern of dependency in all her relationships. What she needs more than anything is the spiritual practice of solitude, so that she can regularly check in with herself; consciously put on her spiritual armor; remember what she is most likely to forget.

Instead, my friend is scared of alone time. She is constantly looking for companionship and says that once she “sees” a guy that seems “perfect” (wealthy, good looking, and willing to support her financially), she gets tunnel vision. She only has eyes for HIM. This is exactly how people describe traumatic events!! When we forget the bigger picture and our place in God’s story, that is a traumatic event of sorts. It takes us to places that our mind, body and spirit do not truly, righteously, peacefully, faithfully want to go. Like any addiction, the object of our obsession cannot ever deliver on what it promises. But oh how it promises. She sees freedom when she is handed an American Express Platinum Card and a club membership. But as a creature made in the image of God, she is especially equipped to live in the holy idea of freedom - as defined by the kingdom of God, not the local country club scene.

What gives you tunnel vision? What has your own compulsion promised but never delivered on?