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The pandemic brought out our worst. How do we fight back?

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The ubiquitous COVID-19 pandemic seems to have brought out the worst in people all around the world. The number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression has almost quadrupled. Porn viewing increased, and stress and anger also rose. Why has this happened? And how do we shed those unhealthy pandemic habits that may still linger?

Exploring the deeper reasons behind our struggles will truly help us shed those unhealthy habits we’ve picked up (or were revived from dormancy) during quarantine. And we’re not just talking about wearing pajama pants with a suit on Zoom calls—but that needs to go too.

The reality is that our unwanted behaviors aren’t random, they’re signals to be answered. To say it differently, our unhealthy thoughts and behaviors have a cause, and we must discover the cause if we want to experience freedom.

Do you know what drives you to your unwanted behaviors? Your God-given desires. What? Yep. God put within humanity desires—or heart longings—that drive everything we do. The Bible lists seven including: our need to be accepted and appreciated, the assurance of safety, and the affirmation of our feelings. All of our actions, our thinking, our beliefs, and the good or bad choices we make are in an attempt to get our heart longings met and when we are unable to find healthy ways to fulfill these longings, during say… a global pandemic, we turn to unhealthy or unwanted behaviors. 

For the past year and a half, it seems like the world has been set ablaze through people’s stress, rage, and pent-up fears. We experienced social distancing—where human connection was limited. We witnessed the death of friends and loved ones—where there was no assurance of safety for anyone. We experienced chaos on social media and TV as opposing sides argued and cancelled each other—where there wasn’t acceptance of one another. Our deepest longings were going unmet—we were acting out.

I’ve (Ben) experienced this first-hand. Growing up, I experienced deep hurt, confusion, and trauma. I experienced bullying, my father’s anger, and a deep sense that I didn’t belong anywhere. I became addicted to porn, alcohol, and food. When life felt too much to bear, I’d turn inward, get depressed, and struggled with suicidal thoughts. These patterns continued in my life until I started to explore their cause and find what I was truly longing for. It was only then that God started to bring true healing and freedom.

While growing up as a child of an alcoholic father, I (Josh) developed a tendency to rescue others. Rescuing loved ones seemed to be one of the few ways I could gain the acceptance and love of my family. I felt valued when I could help my mom with chores around the house, knowing that my dad was often too drunk or too disengaged to help her. I felt like I belonged when I became the man of the house and my mom looked to me for emotional support instead of to my dad. I felt like I had purpose when I could protect my sister and give her emotional comfort. 

This rescuing behavior continued into my adult life, leaving me feeling like all of the problems in the world were mine to solve. I had a thriving ministry as my team and I were reaching millions globally. But I was overcommitted, exhausted, and compulsively rescuing others from their problems. Eventually, I called one of my close friends and the best psychologist I knew, Dr. Henry Cloud. As we began meeting each week, I found understanding and healing. I learned that this unhealthy pattern wasn’t random; it was driven by a longing to be loved and accepted. I began to experience God’s healing as I learned new ways to find the fulfillment of those needs through him and others.

Source: ChristianPost.Com by Josh McDowell and Ben Bennett

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