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Food for Thought - Musings

The FN Epidemic

FN is spreading at an alarming rate. And even more alarming is its immediate and extensive effect on the mind and heart of individuals who suffer from it. When FN attacks it renders their mind and heart incapable of functioning in a normal manner and yet rather than rendering the person harmless it tends to embolden an impetus to action. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the results of the actions of an individual during a FN episode are often devastating for themselves and others. The person suffering from FN experiences emotional instability that often ignites their anger as they become suspicious of others, insecure and generally unstable—quite often not aware that they are even suffering from FN.

Now FN can vanish as quickly as it arises, but the wreckage it can cause remains, often taking weeks, months, even years for healing and full recovery to take place – if it takes place at all. As I said FN can arise in a moment’s time and can last for a couple moments, several days or even decades. FN is reaching epidemic proportions in the population. I have experienced and continue to experience it in my life. The likelihood of suffering from FN is HIGH! In fact I would be surprised if you have not experienced at least a mild case of it this past week. Also FN is not something out there that we contract through contact with things or with others, it is not airborne, but is something within each of us.

If you have not heard of FN you may be at a loss regarding what I am referring to, so let me clear that up for you. FN refers to the creation of False Narratives (see caution at bottom of page). A false narrative is something we construct solely based on our interpretation of the events that we are directly or indirectly involved in, and not on what in fact took place or was intended. Often the FN has little if anything to do with the reality of the situation, for the narrative is one of our own make, birthed because of our own insecurity, past woundedness, vulnerability, or even past history with the person or persons involved.

An example of FN from my own life happened when I began working at a new place, not under contract but serving at the pleasure of those in charge of the organization – I was feeling a tad insecure (maybe more than a tad). One day one of the “powers that be” walked right by me, twice, and did not say hello or even acknowledge my presence. FN immediately flared up! I began to think that they, the powers that be, did not think I was doing a good job, that they had made a huge mistake and were just waiting for the right time to let me go – that was 10 years ago and I continue to work there and from time to time that same individual will ignore me, but now I know they are often so preoccupied with their thoughts they are literally unaware of those whom they happen to pass by. My FN was not based on reality but on my own misconceptions, fueled by my insecurities. This type of FN outbreak could have led to anger: “Who are they to treat me like this?” – that could have lead to a confrontation, a hastily written and sent email or any number of destructive actions on my part. Thankfully I chose not to act on my FN and it eventually went into remission as new information came my way that helped me to see the situation with new eyes – this side of heaven, remission is the best we can hope for – there is no known cure for it but thankfully it is highly treatable, and when treated it quickly retreats into remission.

What is the treatment regimen, as opposed to a magical pill one takes, to help hold FN at bay or at least minimize the impact it can have on others and ourselves? I believe the best plan involves one of more of the following - the first two being the most critical.

1. Own your unchangeable identity in Christ. You are forgiven, a new creation, a masterpiece of God’s making and nothing can change that for it is based on the finished work of Jesus. You are God’s friend, God loves you, likes you and loves loving you – end of story. As we own identity in Christ the immediate impact of FN that begin to arise will not have the same force and are thus less likely to carry us helplessly along. (A prayer of recollection – see b website under food for thought link -
Embracing Our Identity in Christ: The Prayer of Recollection

2. Take every thought captive to Christ. As thoughts arise within you, especially those that are emotionally charged, ask yourself are these thoughts birthing within me the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), the characteristics of God’s wisdom (peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, good fruits, without hypocrisy) or something quite the opposite (anger, bitterness, slander, malice). Another way to do this is to ask yourself is what I am thinking/feeling taking me to God or away from God.

These first two steps need to be a part of how we live life. The practice of naming, owning and embracing who we are is so important for it leads to

our transformation, our ability to be free to live Jesus. The second practice is really about developing an internal awareness of what is going on within us so that we are not merely carried along by those things stirring within us but are able to make a choice. It does not mean we will always choose wisely, but it does allow us to choose and make use of the guidance of the Spirit.

3. Seeing others through the eyes of Jesus, endeavoring to be kind and compassionate, seeking to believe the best about the exchange until more information comes in – giving the benefit of the doubt. The ability to do this is a direct result of owning who you are and learning to be aware of and take captive your thoughts to Christ.

4. Get an outside perspective – ask a person who is full of grace and truth, able to speak the truth in love, what they think. This can be painful, for the hurt and pain you feel is real, but its cause may not be a result of the actions of another but the FN that was created, and this can be difficult to hear.

5. If possible talk to the person involved directly; the person who walked by you and did not say hello, the person who said something that hurt you, the person who did not invite you to their party, out to dinner…. Because we are broken people who can be easily hurt, it is important to check with those we believe hurt us, for FN if left untreated can lead to anger, bitterness, slander, malice, broken relationships and more.

Why not start today by employing the prayer of recollection (step 1) and the practice of becoming aware of your internal world (step 2), what you are thinking, feeling, and discerning if this is taking you toward God or away from God. The choice is yours.

As stated earlier, this side of heaven FN cannot be eradicated, but we can live in such a way that its number of occurrences and the severity of those occurrences are minimized; if FN does flare up our ongoing treatment regimen will work more quickly and completely.

*Caution: FN is NOT to be confused with true acts of evil or violence that are perpetrated against a person. Those are anything but FN. However, I have sadly seen FN arise as a result of such events. A classic example is the abused victim that develops a FN blaming herself or himself which is the furthest thing from the truth.

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