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Stuck!


Roller Coaster Rule #7: Choose your head position before you enter a turn or loop.

My son’s a bit of a novice and didn’t know Rule #7 as we rode The Titan at Six Flags Over Texas for the first time.  He leaned over right before we entered a series of downward spirals and found himself stuck.

“I….can’t….lift….my….head…” he managed to say with tortured surprise.

I caught a glimpse of him from the corner of my eye.  It looked almost painful.  He was bent like elbow macaroni, and his long loops of hair resembled a topping of cheese curls.

Only one of us was laughing as we made three consecutive loops before he could pull his head out of the foot well, but I think he knew he would have been laughing had the tables been turned.  And it was a good lesson learned in a way that it wouldn’t be forgotten.  We rode The Titan once more to get some practice in.

The next day, I was thinking about some people I know who can’t seem to stop repeating their self-defeating behaviors, and Rule #7 came to mind.  It’s as if these people chose the wrong position going into a turn and can’t seem to right themselves.  They are stuck.

The ride of life keeps going faster and faster, and the more revolutions they make, the more stuck they get.  They can tell from their uncomfortable positions that their approach isn’t working, but they don’t know how to break free.  As a result, the ride isn’t very enjoyable for them.  (Who wants to go through life staring at your shoes?)

And here is why roller coasters are more forgiving than the ride of life….they end after a few white-knuckle moments of terror.  You can get off and get back on and choose an entirely new position going into those turns.  But for some people, life goes from turn to turn to turn to turn with no breaks – no way to choose a new position.

If you know someone who is stuck, maybe you can help them get free.

  • Help them see how they got in their position. Lovingly, with a pure motive, give them some candid feedback about the steps that lead up to the uncomfortable place they are in.
  • Help them understand the impact of their “stuck-ness.” Again, with love…say, “When you……….it causes………….”
  • Don’t let your low expectations of them lock them in. Set new expectations that they can choose a new position before the next turn.  Give them the benefit of the doubt that they can change.
  • Don’t enable. Examine your role in the process.  Maybe you’re part of the problem if you are helping them get into “position” before each turn.
  • Let them skip a turn or two. Maybe you can take the turn for them by paying an unexpected repair bill or watching the kids for the weekend or paying for a marriage retreat.
  • Lift them up. If they can’t do it for themselves, encourage them.  Speak life and hope and love into their situation.

In the end, Satan is the one who benefits the most when someone gets stuck.  Immobilized, they can’t be all that God intended them to be.  No matter how frustrating their “stuck” behaviors are for you, find it in your heart to help them get free, and you will deal a major blow to Satan’s plans.

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Filed under agape love, Challenges, Change, Daily walk, failure, habits, Interpersonal, learned helplessness, overcoming obstacles, Relationships, Suffering

Bystander Apathy


In 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered while 38 neighbors watched and/or listened but did nothing to help. No one even called the police. Most of the public were shocked when they read the report in the news. They couldn’t understand how so many could witness a brutal murder and do nothing to prevent it.

Researchers have since identified this phenomenon as “bystander apathy,” and it’s much more common than you might think. Several studies have been conducted to learn more.

In one experiment, a person is led into a room and left there (sometimes alone and sometimes with a stranger). A moment later, the experimenter plays a two-minute tape simulating a fall and subsequent moaning about a hurt leg. When the person in the experiment was alone, 70% reacted to help. However, when there was a passive stranger (someone who pretended not to notice or who noticed but remained calm and uninvolved) in the room, only 7% responded to the “accident.”

In another experiment, individual subjects were led into a room and asked to fill out a questionnaire. Sometimes, they were alone in the room, and sometimes there were others present. Smoke was then pumped into the room through a vent. When alone, 75% of the subjects left the room to report the situation, but when there were passive strangers present, only 10% took any action.

When people are in groups of two or more, their level of responsibility is reduced in an emergency situation. In effect, the more people present, the less responsibility the individual feels.

But what has an even stronger influence on the decision-making process in an emergency are the reactions of the people around the individual. If others respond with apathy, the individual is much less likely to act. Why? Because he might look foolish. Because he’s not sure he’s interpreting the situation correctly. Because he’s unsure what to do and so chooses to model the responses of those around him rather than make a mistake.

Researchers have concluded that five things need to happen in a very short period of time for a bystander to help in an emergency situation:

  1. He must notice the incident.

  2. He must interpret the incident as an emergency.

  3. He must assume responsibility.

  4. He must determine what response to use.

  5. He must implement his decision to help.

Makes me wonder… Which decision are we, as Christians, struggling with today?

  1. Is it that we don’t notice the condition of the world we live in?

  2. Is it that we don’t think it’s an emergency?

  3. Is it that we see so many Christians doing nothing that we assume that theirs is the appropriate response?

  4. Is it that we don’t know what to do?

  5. Is it that we know what to do but still fail to act for selfish reasons?

The more I travel, the more I’m convicted that the Church in much of the world is asleep. There is incredible Godlessness all around us and altars on every high hill, but we don’t notice it. Millions are starving or suffering from AIDS or being sold into brothels or being enslaved as child-soldiers, but we don’t interpret it as an emergency. In trying to look like we’ve got it all together, we are giving other Christians the impression that no action needs to be taken; this is normal; quit worrying.

The Enemy is selling us the drugs of ignorance and comfort, and we are groggy from too much complacency. We need to WAKE UP! THIS is why we’re here! God is calling us to act. The world is begging us to notice that they are under attack.

So what should we do? Something! Anything! It doesn’t have to be much; God will use it. Start by sponsoring a hungry child in another country or by serving at a soup kitchen. Give to a ministry that is where you can’t be. Babysit for a single parent who is at her wit’s end. Write to a youth in prison. Share your struggles with others so that they will know that they aren’t alone. Go online and learn about the injustice being done to those without a voice.

Above all, PRAY! Find the people group that God puts on your heart, and pray for them. Your prayers are more powerful than your dollars, more powerful than your talents and more powerful than your time. Your prayers will engage the Enemy in spiritual warfare and frustrate his progress.

Getting involved is scary. It puts us at risk. It involves sacrifice and discomfort. But without someone taking initiative, the rest of the Church just stands by and watches. No one wants to look foolish by over-reacting. Everyone assumes it’s someone else’s responsibility, but each of us is responsible for part of the solution. We are witnesses to a crime, and it’s time to act.

(S – Latane, B., & Darley, J. Bystander “Apathy”, American Scientist, 1969, 57, 244-268.)

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Filed under Religion, Spirituality