FIGHT OR FLIGHT? God’s design

God loves passion!

Little babies are born with tons of passion!

But our passion must be controlled and directed and then dropped; or it will burn the place down. However, if we try to not be passionate in order to prevent the fire from getting out of control, we will go nowhere and do nothing for God and his kingdom. It is very like an old-fashioned steam engine train. It needs fire in its belly but the fire must be contained.

When I “see” a current event, data flows through my ears and eyes into my thalamus which reroutes it to the nor-epinephrine cortex. This then compares it with maps from my past and says, “This is what’s up.”

This “interpretation of reality” comes back to the thalamus which shoots it to the Amygdala which, then, has a giant emotional explosion that hopefully fits the circumstances. (Anger at sin, sad for loss, anxious at danger, excited about opportunity etc. )

Now the Amygdala sends messages into the hippocampus to maintain the passion and form short term memory; messages down into the body to release the fight or flight response; messages to the mid-brain, Striatum, to “Do something drastic already!” and messages to the vagus nerve to tell the gut to set and maintain a passion “tone”. (The large intestine is part of the brain and when the Bible talks about “bowels” of mercy it does mean the bowels.)

The fight or flight response puts out Adrenaline for energy, Cortisol for stamina, thyroid hormone to burn more fuel. It also triggers cytokines in the gut to alert the immune system. Now our body is ready for the challenge.

The mid-brain uses self-talk to determine just how much passion makes sense and sends a command back to the Limbic system/Amygdala, mediated by Serotonin (Chill), that tells the Amygdala and the whole Limbic system to back off a bit.

The midbrain then alerts the higher cortex to check it all out by dumping out Glutamate. Now the norepinephrine (Think) cortex kicks back in and lists tools, supports, steps etc.

This plan goes to the dopamine cortex to “Do something already”. Dopamine (Do) makes us want to do; love doing; feel good because we did; and long to do it again.

Now we ask THE QUESTION: “Does God want me to do anything else about the situation at hand right now?” If so: do it/ if not then: Stop putting out Glutamate and put out GABA .

Put out more Serotonin (Chill) and drop it. This should happen regularly throughout the day, take a moment to cast all my cares on him for he cares for me and take time to renew myself.

Now grab the next moment with God.

The two dominant neurotransmitters are Glutamate and GABA; so God wants us to dance between grabbing the moment with passion/ and dropping it—all day and every day.


So what goes wrong? Well let us look at what happens when we do not cast our cares on him and continue in the fight or flight mode.

The immune system starts not defending against enemies and starts attacking us. Imagine a lot of soldiers forced to not sleep and to be on red alert for a week. They would do a bad job of protecting and might shoot the wrong people.

The body starts to ignore the adrenaline and cortisol and thyroid and we would feel burned out and unable to handle stress as it comes.

The higher cortex learns to ignore the Glutamate and quit responding to the world around us and go inwards, with endless circling on the hurts and failures of ourselves and others, on details of the problems we can do nothing about ie. the past future elsewhere and others attitudes. (Depression is largely the result of retreating inwards)

The agitated, hyper immune system causes: High blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, diabetes II, ulcerative colitis, autoimmune diseases, migraines, poor nutrition, vulnerability to infections, cancer popping up and not being eliminated etc. etc. You get the picture.

So what can we train ourselves to do to avoid these things?

  1. Three times a day, take time to realize, to “see” what God has done: a. What he has given me–enjoy it, b. Who is in my life-love on them and give and receive from them. c. What I can do–do with all my might. d. Where I am–be there. e. When I am–take no thought for tomorrow and do not wallow in the past/ live in the now. f. Who I am–thank God for my weaknesses and strengths and give and receive from others. Ecclesiastes 9 7-9 (my paraphrase) As I go through life, I need to slow down and enjoy the food God has given me, sip and savor the delicious things I have to drink, remind myself that God is positive about my feeble efforts and accepts them as the acts of worship that they are; wear nice clean clothes and comb my hair, and mostly enjoy the people God has given me to enjoy.
  2. Be more in tune with my feelings and see if I hate what God hates and love what he loves? Pause and get in tune with my emotions, thank God for passion but ask if my Feelings Fit the Facts. Blessed is anyone who hungers and thists for righteousness and pants after God like a thirsty deer.
  3. Go to the Bible for tools and to my brethren for support and look to Jesus and ask, “Is Jesus depressed or anxious about my situation or my future. If not, why am I?” Ask, not only what would Jesus do? but What does Jesus feel about this situation? Does he hate the sin and love the sinners?.Hebrews 12:2 I need to keep my on on Jesus, remembering that he is the author and finisher of my faith, (not I) He was so filled with joy at the prospect of redeeming me and being in relationship with me that all the problems seemed like nothing. I too should hope, be filled with joy at the guaranteed relationship with him that all the problems seem like nothing.
  4. Start each day praising God for the day and it’s challenges and end the day thanking God for what he has done. Psalms 5:3 Lord you will hear my voice in the morning. I will look up and raise my prayer to you.
  5. Tell God, “I thank you for this problem and the outcome is yours, just help me do my part.” Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  6. Don’t yell at myself when I am, once again, worrying about things that I can not change, but remind myself that worrying is useless and that it is OK to let it go. Then push out the negative with engaging the next piece of life to live in front of me. Luke 12:22-32
  7. Assure my brain that “fussing” will not protect me or others, or find solutions, or make sense out of senseless events. That casting my cares on the one who cares for me allows him to speak into my mind with creative solutions and with his peace. 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.

2 replies on “FIGHT OR FLIGHT? God’s design”

So great to get your email again. It has been a while. Your blog today reminded me of Karl Leman’s material on Immanuel training and trauma recovery. God is with us AND WE CAN FACE ANYTHING WITH HIM.


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