Pastoral Care, Chapter 5: Don’t Get Locked In – Part 1

In the book entitled, Masks of Life and Love, Hans Sachs has written a chapter entitled, “Locked in a Room with Open Doors.” The story centers around two brothers. One of them had a phobia of open doors. Compulsively, he would go around the house or wherever he was, closing any open door. This annoyed the other brother, “One of these days I am going to lock you in a room with all of the doors open.”

When I read that, at first I wondered how that could be? How does a person get locked in a room when all of the doors are open? The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that I have known some people who were locked in rooms and places, in ideas and emotions where the doors were open but the people would not or could not go through them to freedom.

Think about it. Are there areas of your life, or rooms where you have been, where you feel you are locked in and can’t get out? Many stories have been shared with me of incidents or experiences in a person’s childhood which locked them in to a pattern of thinking or of behavior. I remember a lady who tearfully told me of how she had been mentally and sexually abused as a child. As an adult, she is still troubled with her self-esteem. She has not been able to get out of that room of pain, anger, and resentment.

I assured her that she was entitled to her feelings but that there was a door through which she could go and find the freedom to let it go and to move on. It is called forgiveness. It can not change what has happened. It may not change the other person, but it can set you free. Have you ever felt afraid? Did someone say without asking why you were afraid, or said, “you don’t need to be afraid” or, “you ought not be afraid?”

Feelings are not about “should” and “oughts.” I have heard it said that “the only thing you need to fear is fear itself.” I can not agree with that. There are some healthy fears. In fact, fear of poison, or dynamite, of illegal drugs, of driving when intoxicated, of deliberately exposing yourself to life-threatening disease, or of trusting the wrong person could save your life. So there is a positive purpose for the God-given emotion of fear.

Our problem is not how to get rid of fear. It is how to use fear constructively so that it will not paralyze us and lock us in a room away from healthy living. The key is to acknowledge and own your fears, but to take charge of them rather than allowing them to control you. Use fear as a spur or a stimulus to knowledge and action. Most of all determine that you will live by faith rather than be locked in by fear.

How about loneliness? In spite of the vast advancement in the means with which to communicate, I find that more and more people are locked in their room and are lonely. Would you like to know that there is a door standing wide open through which you can go and find joy in relationships? There is, but you can not just sit there and wait for someone to come through the door to take you out.

There are some things you can do to help this happen. First, is to reassess your own worth as a person and to claim it. You have gifts and graces which other people could find interesting and enjoy.

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