Enabling Avoidance and Why that is Not Virtuous


by Stacy Lynn Harp

Have you ever heard the saying, “talk to the hand”?  Have you ever felt like you were talking to someone and it was like talking to a brick wall?  Probably.  I think most of us have.  However, so few of us want to look at what is really going on underneath that dynamic.

I think it’s avoidance.  Recently I was in a coaching training and was reminded of how our culture enables avoidance.  Let me say that again –  Our culture enables avoidance.  We are by and large a people who AVOID things.

Most people like to avoid conflict.  I know of one person who told me about two months ago that she had to wait on the Holy Spirit to see what He was going to say to her about whether or not she should deal with her conflicting feelings.  She’s being avoidant and not wanting to deal with her struggle.

I know of people who avoid discussing real struggle because it’s too hard for them. They do not want to embrace their reality and yet, it’s not doing anything good for them by avoiding it.

I know quite a few people who avoid coming to a simple online bible study because they are avoiding what the Word of God may have to say to them.

Sometimes people avoid telling others what hurt them because they are scared and yet by avoiding doing that, they are just hurting themselves more because the person hurting them can’t change their behavior towards them because they do not know what they did.

Avoidance and offense often are joined together because it’s easier to avoid and then be resentful because you’re offended and yet, again, it does nothing to foster healing.

As someone who not only works with clients who struggle with these issues, but also as someone myself who completely understands the issue of avoidance, I am here to tell you that until you stop avoiding what is bothering you, you will not grow. 

Recently I had a meeting with a friend and I had lost something valuable that they had given me years ago.  I felt sad about this, but not being sure of how sharing this was going to feel or impact the other person, I just sucked it up and brought up that I had lost the gift that was given.  My friend simply asked me if I wanted another one. She didn’t get upset, she understands that things happen and in this case, just offered to get me a new one.  If I had avoided discussing this and ruminated about what her response could be, I would have been robbed of the blessing she offered.

I think we’re that way with the Lord too.  All too often we will avoid doing what the Lord calls us to do and as a result we totally miss out on the gifts He wants to bestow on us.  The irony is that our culture teaches us to avoid by throwing meaningless entertainment our way, meaningless ways of so called comfort and everything that does nothing to offer healing.

God on the other hand, tells us exactly what to do to engage in a REAL relationship with Him and we miss out because we AVOID doing what He tells us to.

Take scripture memorization, as just one example.  The Lord is so clear in His word that we are to meditate on His word both day and night.  All the day.  If we do, He blesses us.  Yet, most Christians AVOID it because “it’s too hard” or “I’m too old to memorize something” or “I can’t – fill in the blank”, and yet, the irony is that it never occurs to these avoidant types to ask God for help.

God loves us and desires that we come to Him and not be avoidant.  If we’re struggling with a problem, He says to come to Him.  If we need wisdom or help, He says to ask.  His word also tells us that He gives His children good gifts. So why avoid that?

Ask yourself today what it is that you are avoiding and then fix it.  I’ll be as bold to tell you this, STOP IT.  The more you avoid, the more miserable you’re going to be.

Think about it, then stop avoiding and become doer of the Word, and not a hearer only.