Repurposing is a big rage. Doug and I have stainless steel pipe holding up cedar shelves in our living room; it’s not what the pipes were made to do, but they work well – and look great.
So we can use a toolbox for a fire pit – at least for a while. But it’s not the original design and it’s not going to last very long.
When we live life using fear – instead of love – as a motivator and as the basis of our decisions, neurologically we’re using our mind and brain as a fire pit instead of the tool box it was designed to be. And the results are traumatic.
Living with the stress of toxic emotions, thoughts, schedules, …fear triggers the release of cortisol. According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, the damage happens in layers:
- Learning problems and anxiety disorders
- Addictions and depression
- Physical illnesses
Our bodies were not designed to live in the bonfire of chemicals produced by fear and stress. See the Fear Tree diagram on the GOOD STUFF page.
But what if we use the toolbox that is our mind and brain as it was originally designed? Created in God’s image, we are created to love. Living in relationships of trust and environments of grace, our lives bear good fruit – instead of disorders. See the Love Tree diagram, too.
Here’s a real miracle. In her book, The Gift in You, Dr. Leaf explains:
“Science is showing us that there is a massive “unlearning” of negative toxic thoughts when we operate in love. The brain releases a chemical called oxytocin, which literally melts away the negative toxic thought clusters so that rewiring of new non-toxic circuits can happen. This chemical also flows when we trust and bond and reach out to others. Love literally wipes out fear!”
I wonder if we even realize how many times a day we invite cortisol into our systems instead of oxytocin –
- When we threaten with punishments instead of offering our help
- When we hide our struggles instead of asking for help
- When we hold onto shame – or hand it out – instead of receiving and offering forgiveness
When I was teaching kindergarten at Ambleside School of Fredericksburg, my five year old students had experienced enough of the Bible to be frustrated with the Jews for not believing Jesus was who He said He was. Putting away the Bible after our lesson, I said – half under my breath – that I was going to ask God when I got to heaven why He sent Jesus as a baby, because everyone would have recognized Him if had come on a white horse leading a powerful army like they expected.
One little boy said, “I know why.”
I wanted to hear more; “What are you thinking, Seth?”
He said, “If Jesus had come on a white horse with a big sword and a big army, we would have obeyed Him because we were afraid of Him. But the Bible says if we love Him we will obey Him, and how can you not love a little baby?”
In the words of a five year old; the original design. If fear worked better than love, I bet God would have used something other than a baby in a manger and his Son on a cross.
Can we help each other stop using fear as a motivator – or as the initiator in our relationships? One of the best indicators of the need for course correction in our thoughts and behavior is when we recognize we are following fear instead of love.
Please share a comment about the positive changes that occurred when you changed from fear to love in a relationship. It will also be fun to have a conversation about how powerful this course correction can be when applied to education.