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For Many Christians, Denial Has Become a Habit

January 11, 2012

“For many Christians, denial has become a habit.  Chronic denial as a means of coping leads to a stiffness and rigidity that may for a time masquerade as emotional stability.  People who are neither excitable nor moody can look very spiritual.  The evidence of their immaturity is unmistakable, however; people who deny how they really feel typically are unable to enter and touch another person’s life deeply.  Because they have sealed off deep parts within themselves, they can neither discern nor properly deal with deep parts in others.”

Larry Crabb, Understanding People, Page 186

Questions for Reflection:
What deep parts of yourself have you sealed off from others?
How has trying to appear “stable” or “spiritual” hindered your ability to touch someone else’s life deeply?

  1. Thanks Dr. Crabb, your insights sure helps! Truly, honesty is an essential part of living the Christian life, for such reflects humility. Very applicable to me. 🙂

  2. Excellent topic and question. I used to be one of those experiencing chronic denial, stiff and composed-looking ‘Godly’ Christian. Then I laid it all out before my Father and asked for His help from situation to situation. I have learned that it’s acceptable to be human, to err, and that others can relate better to a transparent redeemed sinner. Doesn’t make one a better person to pretend to be something one is not. Joyce

    • Ken permalink

      I particularly caught Dr. Crabb’s sentence, “People who are neither excitable nor moody can look very spiritual.” I’m guilty of seeing that way too often. You’re absolutely right, Joyce–it “doesn’t make one a better person to pretend to be something one is not.” It just means we’re wearing masks that give the impression we’re doing OK when we’re not. Sometimes we spend major parts of our lives hiding who we really are. “Humility” (as Jonah mentioned) and “transparency” (as you mentioned) are two key words for living a life that’s moving toward Christ-likeness. I appreciate your response!

  3. Matt permalink

    This got me thoughtful. Usually in public I’m pretty stable and emotionally cool guy but is it just a facade? Sometimes it is. I don’t want to be seen as a emotional fool when comes to positive feelings like joy and being touched by something. But when it comes to negative feelings like anger and irritation most of the time I’m trying to follow the biblical commands to be gentle and not to throw words like arrows.

    Where do you draw the line between healthy expression of even negative feelings and just sinful explosion?

    • Matt, good question. Here’s a principle (not a formula). Feel your emotions fully. Express your emotions wisely. Read Ezek. 24. Ezekiel was told not to cry when his wife died. Why? To deny expression of his grief (not denial of feeling them) aroused curiosity among Israelites. That gave Ezekiel the platform to essentially say “the death of a wife is not worth a tear in comparison with God’s upcoming judgment on you for your sin. REPENT!” He felt fully. He expressed wisely (in this case, wisdom meant to deny expression).


  4. Fran permalink

    I just finished reading the book of conversations with God.I was thrilled with the honest struggle and sharing it with us all…..I guess I would be embarrassed to do that myself public ally but have done it in journal form….can’t really admit right now even to myself how tensions rage in me

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