False peace of avoidance

By Dave Henning / May 26, 2024

“Unchecked idealism enables me to keep the Word at a distance from my heart, from the seat of my emotions, merely responding with my head and calling it hope and optimism. . . .  While that avoidance may be peaceful for a while, it’s a false peace.  When I can name what’s hard, I have a place to invite God.”- Sara Hagerty

“All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.  My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.  My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.”- Psalm 38:9-11 (NIV)

As Sara Hagerty moves on in Chapter 5 of The Gift of Limitations, she cautions that we can use idealism as an intoxicant to numb the pain of what’s not right in front of us.  And as we lose the ability to live in what’s real, instead we imbibe discontentment.

Furthermore, as master pain avoiders, we cloak our idealism in spiritual language.  Thus, Sara notes, we us idealism as a sophisticated tool.  Because we’d rather not face the pain we find before us.  Writing in Answering God, Eugene Peterson describes the impact of negative emotions:

“It is easy to be honest before God with our hallelujahs; it is somewhat more difficult to be honest with our hurts; it is nearly impossible to be honest before God in the dark emotions of our hate.  So we commonly suppress our negative emotions.”

Consequently, Sara states, we find it easier to use dismissive phrases, hoping they assuage the pain.  Phrases such as:

  • “it’s all good”
  • “God’s got this”

In conclusion, Sara asserts, many of us spend a great deal of life establishing patterns of avoiding our emotions.  Hence, no explanation or reasoning exists anywhere.  Rather, we act on impulse.  So, if it feels bad, we avoid it.  Above all, in the process, we form our deeper understanding of God from our own biases. Not from God’s Word.

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you reject the false peace avoidance offers?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The walk through the valley”

About the author

Dave Henning

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