Negotiating Freedom from Ourselves

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
-Philippians 4:6

We live in an expensive world. Keeping a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food on your table, and transportation available is not cheap. Heck, if you live in Michigan you can easily pay more every month in car insurance than your vehicle is worth! Whether you’re doing it alone or with a family, the expenses will pile up much faster than the income appears.

At this point it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder how you’re going to make it through another month. You watch the news and see a world descending into chaos and that just adds another form of stress to your already sleepless nights. Nothing would be easier than to give up hope and resign yourself to a life of hopeless misery.

How do we overcome this stress? I recently heard stress referred to as your mind holding you hostage. It seems an apt metaphor, as well as one that holds more weight when I mention that this line came from a former FBI hostage negotiator (Chris Voss, who delivered an excellent Google Talk on negotiating here). Wouldn’t it be nice to have a trained hostage negotiator settle our internal disputes?

If stress is our minds holding us hostage, it stands to reason that the best way to deal with it is through negotiation (I personally prefer this to releasing a SWAT team into my brain). How do hostage negotiations work? The hostage taker issues their demands and the authorities attempt to defuse the situation and bring everyone to a peaceful and swift resolution.

Our human nature is full of demands. They seem reasonable at first: a nice home for our families, a car that doesn’t require weekly repairs, or enough money to eat out once in a while. The culture we live in has taught us that these are perfectly normal expectations; it’s almost as if we deserve these things just for living. But when our minds’ take our spirits hostage, destroying our peace and ramping up our anxiety, these are the demands they provide.

We cannot break ourselves free of these demands anymore than we could dig ourselves out of our own graves. We need a negotiator.

Thankfully, Philippians 4:6 tells us where to find one. If I take these demands and stressors to God, He will settle the differences between me, myself, and I. Those sources of stress and anxiety are given to the ultimate hostage negotiator and He calms the situation, provides us with a better solution, and restores our peace. We are freed from our own chains by the One who knows our needs better than we do.

Another great principle that Mr. Voss states repeatedly: Never be so certain of what you want that you’re not open to something better. That makes so much sense I want to go through Proverbs a few times and see if it’s in there. We believe we know what we want, but our view is limited. We are being held hostage—bound and confined while our earthly minds make demands and endanger our well-being. There is no way that we can see the big picture from this position; we can’t even see what’s outside this room!

That is why we allow God to negotiate for us. We cast our cares on Him and trust him to provide for us whatever it is we need based on His perspective outside our walls, where a much bigger picture is visible.

Don’t be anxious. Don’t let your human nature hold you hostage. Take what you think you need straight to the negotiator and trust Him to provide what you actually need.

Even the best negotiators have bad days. Luckily we have access to the one who has never lost, so why not trust Him?