When I picked up Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson, the idea of a spiritual adventure intrigued me. I was looking forward to something new. A year later I’ve realized what influenced me the most from the book involves looking back.
In the chapter entitled “A Rooster’s Crow”, Pavlov’s dog-salivation experiment which led to the concept of a “conditioned reflex”, is used to make the point that our lives are “an elaborate repertoire of conditioned reflexes”.
But whether they are big or small, conscious or subconscious, harmless or harmful, one thing is certain: we are far more conditioned than we realize.
He goes on to imagine how Peter must have felt every time he heard a cock crow. Jesus had told him he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed and just as he finished his third denial, a rooster did crow. For the rest of his life, Peter would have to wake to his greatest failure.
At first I didn’t think much of this chapter, but I became aware of the concept. One day as I was driving, a metro bus pulled beside me and I realized I was gripping the steering wheel tensely. Because a bus had collided with my car a few months earlier when I pulled into an exit lane from a parking lot, I was unknowingly carrying around the turmoil of the accident. Since a bus stop was located in the exit lane, the bus had the right-of-way. I was at fault. I was guilty of causing the accident. Until I read the book, I hadn’t been conscious of the reflex I was having with every bus on the road. Daily driving was destroying my confidence and peace.
Do certain situations, sounds, or sights bring back your pain?
We all have failings and feel guilty. Becoming aware of the reflex is the first step in healing which allows us to go forward and find happiness.
I know of someone who had sexual encounters in the men’s locker room at the gym. He’s struggled with changing gyms and leaving them altogether. With a family at home, the guilt about his transgressions must have been so overwhelming each time he saw gym equipment, even at another location.
We can’t live with such enormous pain in our lives without destroying ourselves.
How can we heal from the small and enormous failings in our lives? Living with secrets or avoiding reminders is a temporary fix. The triggers are still there. We need to find a way to truly forgive ourselves before the pain will leave. We need to break the “cage of guilt”. Only by fighting back the bad thoughts then finding peace and forgiveness, can we be happy.