Changing the Narrative: Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Restore (My Redeemer Lives 3:2)

When I was in high school and even in early psychology classes in college, they taught us that the brain stem is responsible for two gut responses when we are confronted with danger: flight or fight.

Then, during graduate school, the truth came out –

We learn new things all the time, even in science, and we missed one: freeze.

There is the classic example given in psychology classes across the nation of what happens when you meet a bear in the woods. Why? I don’t know. How often do you meet bears in the woods? I can honestly say I never have. Perhaps it’s time for a new example. Let’s try this one:

You are walking into work or church, maybe even your home. It’s somewhere you go frequently. The people there are familiar with you, should know your character a little bit. You look up. You see a co-worker, a friend, someone familiar to you. You smile. You think in your head, “Oh, it’s such-and-such. It’s good to see them.” This is slightly involuntary. You generally think these things when you see this person, but don’t even realize it’s part of your thought processes. Then, said person opens their mouth. You open your heart and your brain for engaging conversation. Said person proceeds to lay into you about the way you handle a situation. They are not happy. They are getting worked up. You had no idea. Now there are people looking. You’d kind of like to dig a hole and crawl into it. You have three options:

You get hot and bothered and lose it. Words fly. We call this fight.

You start thinking about hippopotami because they are cute and this person is not. We call this flight.

Or your mind goes blank. You think nothing and enter the vortex we call freeze. Just done. Frozen.

There are many experiences in life that make us frozen, in varying degrees.

Resurrection heals even this.

Let’s look at Luke 7:11-17. This is the story of a woman whose only son was dead, the funeral procession already in play, the tears already falling.

11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

Notice that no one in the story was frozen. What I want you to see is actually the absence of frozen.

Read Luke 7:13 again:

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 

The Greek word for had compassion in this verse is esplanchnisthē. A more direct translation would be that Jesus was moved with compassion.

Jesus, Son of God, in His perfection, isn’t relegated to our classic psychological responses. He brings resurrection healing to this woman, her son, and restoration to their lives.

When He sees death, He isn’t frightened.

When He sees tears, He never freezes.

When He sees struggle, He fights a different kind of fight, against forces we cannot see. Wielding weapons of serious power, so we don’t have to.

Jesus is moved. Moved to do something, even when you can’t see it. Working in your life, moved by compassion, the great love He has for you.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Our funeral biers of life may look different than this woman’s, than the crowd of witnesses’, than the person’s sitting next to us. The things that get us worked up, leave us speechless, or lock our hearts up tight, afraid to let someone hurt us, are all varied.

But know this today:

Jesus is moved.

He can work His restoration and healing in every situation bringing life where there once was death, joy where there once was sadness, and compassion where there once was cold and frozen.

Finish today by reading or writing out Psalm 126 and rejoicing alongside this widow. He does great things. He is moved.

When Life Feels Not-So-Fresh (My Redeemer Lives 1:1)

Welcome to My Redeemer Lives!

I love the first day of a study because everything feels fresh.

My intentions are fresh, my pen seems filled with fresh ink, even my Bible gives off fresh-page vibes, just waiting to deliver insight to my brain cells.

It’s important to breath in fresh for just a moment, because, most of the time, life feels not-so-fresh.

Routines, monthly payments, staring in the fridge figuring out what to eat, classes, errands…

what feels not-so-fresh in your life?

Then there is the darker side of not-so-fresh.

There once was a man named Job who knew about not-so-fresh, and that’s putting it lightly. He sat in not-so-fresh. He knew emotional struggle, loss, and a life turned upside down, but it wasn’t all drama-drama. Instead, I think one of the hardest parts of Job’s story is that he had to sit in all the muck for a while.

Job 2:12-13

12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

And this is just the first week.

Job has wounds- holes in his heart where his loved ones’ laughter used to be, unrelenting sun where his roof used to give him shade, and now personal, physical decay in his flesh- infection, boils, rot. (Um, gross.)

Job laments and his friends seems super supportive for about a millisecond. Then they pick up the salt shaker, guised as “helpful suggestions” and add salt to his wounds.

Not only does Job have to endure all this pain, but now he has to endure crappy advice. Gag.

Job’s friend’s advice and explanations take up half the book of Job. Their “thoughtfulness” says nothing more to Job than,

“Oh, look at you and all your problems.Clearly we are better than you. Clearly we are more loved than you. Clearly we are doing something right and you are doing something wrong.”

Not-So-Fresh Friendship is what that is, right there.

But for all this bad advice, all it does for Job is turn him back in on his own misery. Job had real, physical pain. The disease he experienced, the destruction of all he held dear was physical destruction.

What physical struggles make them aware of their weaknesses?

What physical struggles do you have in your life?


In his weakness, God’s answer to Job is a physical promise recalled by Job, himself, in our theme passage for this study:

Job 19:25-26

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God…

Problems in life are often physical, or very physically impact us.

Resurrection is physical too.

Job tells us that he will see God in the flesh, not as a spirit or vague idea. This same flesh that decays will see a greater promise.

Read the NIV translation of the next verse, Job 19:27-

I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another.
    How my heart yearns within me!

Skin destroyed, eyes that fade…

What part of your body makes you keenly aware that your body is passing away, decomposing faster than we’d like?

Here’s mine- hard, grey hairs that stick up like electrical wire; weird throat wrinkles that feel thick and sloppy at the same time; slowly losing my singing range to vocal cords meant only to last so many years.

The promise of resurrection reminds us that rebuilding is coming. Fresh is coming. While struggle and not-so-fresh, even death, is part of our story, it’s not the end of the story, nor is it even the climax of our plot.

Physical pain and physical problem remind us of a greater promise. We sit in the physical reality of this decaying world and its violence and disasters, political upheaval, and uncertain footing.

Some days look fresh and some days look not-so-fresh. Sometimes we stand in the promise, sometimes we sit on that ash heap with Job, but either way:

I know that my Redeemer lives is the fresh song in our lungs.

Because He sings a fresh song over us each day until we physically see eternity –



Fresh and new.

You can download this Scripture card and one for every day of the week at (LINK)

Don’t forget this week’s Bible margin to help you reflect as you study.  (LINK)


Join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and insights in the comments here and on social media.


Catch the week one video here:

Destruction to Resurrection

Downloadable Video Viewer Guide – Destruction to Resurrection


Hiding in the Cubby Days: Redefining Anxiety (The Truth about Mental Health)

When our youngest was in kindergarten, I went to pick him up from school and saw the teacher shaking her head at me from across the long hallway.

It wasn’t an angry shake or even a disappointed shake. It was really more of the sad, I-wish-this-world-was-less-hard kind of shake.

You see, our sweet Zeke is on the Spectrum. Most days we don’t even notice it. Zeke thinks different, responds differently, I’m convinced even tastes differently, but you never know when it’s going to kick in. Our life looks more like, “Surprise, it’s Austism Day!” than “My name is autism, I have settled her for a long winter’s nap.”

Everyone’s experience with special needs is different.

This is ours.

That day with the kindergarten teacher, I listened to her tell me a story of my son’s experience in the world that doesn’t always understand frazzled nerves and pinched sensory systems and too bright, too loud, too soft, too…everything.

As the tears rolled down my cheeks, she told me the story of a small child so overwhelmed by the swirl of life around him that he hid himself in a cubby, folded himself right up into it, because it felt safe.

Zeke’s teacher was nothing short of amazing and she expressed perfectly my sentiment –

I just wish life was a little less hard. I wouldn’t want Zeke to be any different. I just want it all to be less hard for him.

Once I stepped back from the situation, I realized there have been many a day in my own life I’ve wanted to hide in a cubby…and for all the same reasons! Too much noise makes me grind my teeth, I’m easily irritated if I’m hungry or tired, and goodness knows I have lots of opinions about colors, lights, and textures.

As a grown-up discovering how to wander through my own journey of life with anxiety, I was struck by how often our medical and scientific definitions don’t quite fit for anxiety, each missing a piece. Nothing offered as a definition ever felt full enough to me.

Today on the podcast I offer a fuller definition of anxiety. I’ve been researching and compiling this definition since graduate school, through the wisdom and research of books and academic articles, observation in my own life and therapeutic treatment for anxiety, and also my observations as a therapist. It’s not meant to be a complete definition, but an open conversation, a re-contextualizing of the pieces of our experiences with anxiety and how we understand it.

I’m hoping that this work will help us to:

– be more mindful for the sake of those around us with anxiety or sensory struggles

– help individuals understand the “why” of different components of treatment – in particular medication, therapy, and connection

– move toward better long term treatment of anxiety by encouraging expanded research concerning the definitions we utilize

– offer better spiritual care for anxiety, mental health, and working toward ending the stigma associated with both

The Truth about Mental Health….some days we all want to hid in cubbies.

Episode 43 – Defining Anxiety: A Recontextualization

*No small children were harmed in the writing of this article. Permission was granted by my son to share his story.