life, ministry

Why Letting Go of Survival Mentality Isn’t Giving Up

March 23, 2015

Letting Go of Survival Mentality

When something has weathered a storm, it’s called “surviving.” It’s always good when we survive something. It develops different character traits; some, we didn’t even know we needed. However, surviving isn’t really a purpose for my life. I have survived personal and professional hardship, misjudgment, character assassination attempts, disloyalty in relationships I’ve held, the list could go on.

I’m sure as you’re reading, you could stop for a second and add up offenses in your life. We all have those moments that either make or break us. I actually hate that phrase because a moment that might make us, actually does break us and the moments that break us….well, you get picture. It’s not either/or. It’s also/to. They are the moments that push us, crush us, and refine us.

And so when life hands us a series doozies, we become survivors.

We start to define ourselves by what we’ve survived. It becomes a badge of honor, a declaration to the world that we have survived ________.

On we go in life. We accumulate these badges and they start to become like bumper stickers on our person. Life is beautiful, but it can also be very brutal. On go the badges. Layered, one on top of the other. I wonder if we are peeling these badges off once we have grieved that piece of life, processed or forgiven that person?

My experience in my life is that we don’t want to let go of that survivor mentality and so we keep accumulating the badges. It’s not even conscious half the time…but never removing them, we end up wanting the world to know all about these badges. They are a  piece of our protection and they become who we think we are.

Surviving is what taught us, taught me, so many times in life to keep going, keep pushing, to not listen to the negative voices that wanted to leave me discouraged, the ones that wanted me to give up and leave. And yet, even when those voices were quieted, like a reflex…I still was in survival mode.

Survival mode is good for a season, but never intended to become a lifestyle.

Surviving is not living.

It’s a part of living for those seasons, but it’s not active living. It’s hunkered down, pressing forward, focused and isolated in so many senses of the word. Over time, we run out of space to place those badges and we started building. Up and up we go. The layers of those badges create the wall effect.

Building my wall started when I was 15 and in ministry spotlight. Self-preservation was #1. There was nothing before it.

In order to survive after you’ve used up all the room you have for your survivor badges, you’ve gotta start building up. You better build fast. Things will make you work faster. As I grew older, opposition in my relationship with my then boyfriend (now hubby) was another one big one that had me building real quick like.

Even in the name of love, walls still get built.

Higher and higher it went until I was fully functioning within those walls. I was mad, but I pushed through it. I was hurt and felt alone, but I pressed past it.

Why? Because within the wall there is none of that ‘stuff’ allowed…especially if I was going to survive.

Moving to Georgia was part of that wall coming down. It wasn’t a pretty demolition site as most aren’t. In fact most days I didn’t want to nicely deconstruct it…I wanted to blow it up.

In blowing up parts and deconstructing others, I started to breathe again. Finding the me that had started to fade into the background over all these years.

The person, the girl that was so harshly judged by people, was coming out from behind the wall.

It’s hard reestablishing these pieces of you that you thought were gone.

Nope. They’re there. They’d just been waiting for me to let go.

Letting go is a process not a mindset. It’s not a simple decision, it’s an action item on your list of to-dos every second of every day.

It’s work. And it’s good work.

Since survival tends to become a lifestyle, letting go of survival mentality can feel like you’re giving up on that piece of your life. I promise you, it’s not. You just have to get through a certain portion of the process to feel it.

You’ll be able to see it before you feel it! 🙂

It’s the releasing of your soul to come out of the cage. To break free from the bonds that created a foggy feeling about life and to slowly but surely, stand in the assurance of your purpose and calling in life.

I encourage each of you to find those walled up places, find a safe and trustworthy person to share a piece of that wall with and start deconstructing it.

That person behind the wall, they will thank you!


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  • Reply betty March 24, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Well said. We all survive different things in life. It is part of growing up and never really ends. Surviving makes one stronger and hopefully less judgemental of others.

    • Reply Lisa Marcia March 25, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      I think surviving, if we’re open to the process allows us to receive grace in different ways, experience people in different capacities had something not been survived. I think where most people get stuck is in the survival and so a lot of times, when we’re hunkered down and fearful in the survival mode, it makes us more judgmental and more timid to offer grace.

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