Stop Chasing Symptoms and Get to the Root Issues

It is amazing what God can do while you are working a job you did not expect to have. For me, it was construction work. I had very little experience in this area, so I had to learn fast. My family and I found ourselves in financial hard times, so I had to take advantage of the jobs that were available. Working for friends who were in the construction business would usher in some of the greatest learning I’ve ever had, though most of it was delivered in unexpected ways. Some of the biggest hardships in life can be the greatest places for God to work as a Master Craftsman on our hearts.  

Some construction projects were brand new homes, while others were renovations. As I labored in the day to day grind, I sought to learn as much as possible. One thing I quickly observed was how important the foundation was to the rest of the structure. In fact, as I was working on these houses, I sensed that God was simultaneously renovating my own spiritual foundation. It was time for God to do some work on my heart. Having to work these jobs was a massive lesson of humility, so He had my undivided attention. 

The Call to Address the Foundation

There are many times in life where the issues we face are actually a call to go deeper, to get to the groundwork of our hearts. During this season of my life, I wanted God to open doors and lead me into new and exciting ventures. But all the signs kept pointing me back to what I saw on those construction sites: the foundation needs more attention. 

Everything I was going through was a call for me to address the foundational issues of the heart that can get so easily ignored or neglected, yet they influence everything in life. So, in order for me to experience the greater life I longed for, I had to give God permission to renovate the foundation. 

You and I can get easily overwhelmed by the complexity that our battles bring. It seems there is so much drama, frustration and confusion that accumulates in our journey. One big reason for this is that we are not equipped to address our foundation. We keep attacking symptoms while neglecting the simple, yet foundational issues that need a renovation. 

Now when I say, simple, don’t hear me wrong. I don’t mean easy. Heart renovation takes time, patience and investment. But the solutions you need are often so simple, they can pass you by if you are not paying attention. 

The key is that you need an open and teachable heart. In other words, you just need to be ready. My circumstances humbled me to the point that I was ready for whatever God needed to do in my heart. 

Allowing for the “Gut Job”

Back to the construction site. When working on home renovations, it was rare that simple fixes would suffice. Usually a “gut job” was needed, especially because the structural issues behind the symptomatic problems needed to be addressed. I was deeply impacted by something I took for granted: you cannot casually pass the foundational stages. The foundation is everything. 

I found many parallels to our spiritual life and the dilemma that exist within modern Christianity. We often lack a solid foundation in our spiritual life. Because of this, cracks and instability are manifesting in so many areas of our lives. Yet, in our search for repair, we often fail to have our spiritual foundation examined. 

When someone comes to me for personal help, there are usually symptomatic issues they are hoping to address. An addiction has taken over, their marriage is on the rocks, struggles of the mind seem to be dominating, a workplace problem seems to be holding them back or they simply can’t get over a hurt from the past. They may be looking for help regarding depression, anxiety or anger battles. 

These struggles are all subjects that call us to address the underpinning issues that need attention. The problem is that most of our life pattern has been conditioned to patch holes in the walls of our hearts as much as possible. “Put a quick band aid on this and get on with life” seems to be the theme most people live by.

Yet as the footings of our hearts keep getting ignored, we ask ourselves the same questions over and again: 

  • Why does this issue keep rising up? 
  • Why am I so unhappy? 
  • Why can’t I catch a break? 
  • Why am I leaning into that fourth glass of wine? 
  • Why am I so obsessed with what’s going on at work? 
  • What’s up with this anxiety I’m feeling?
  • Why do I feel so angry? 
  • Why do I feel so awful, sick and worn out? 

Until we are willing to ask better questions and face the foundational issues of our hearts, we will always be patching holes that keep leaking. 

The Longing for Transformation

For many, there is a cry for transformation, a desire to experience healing and freedom in their hearts. We want a fruitful walk with God, a strong sense of who we are and better relationships. 

Yet the road of transformation is filled with resistance, roadblocks and unwanted detours that often seek to derail our ability to live healed and free. This leaves many in a world of “status quo,” where life does not seem to change, they feel stuck and hearts begin to lose steam. Others settle for a mundane and lifeless existence.

Many of the issues of the heart can easily bury themselves, so it often takes certain symptomatic issues to get our attention. Your wife tells you if you don’t get help, she’s leaving. You find yourself drinking way too much. Pornography has become an easy lure. Anxiety seems to be increasing and unrelenting. Your health is waning because the stress and internal conflicts are taking a toll on your physiology.  

It took a personal breakdown in my life for me to come face to face with the obstacles that were preventing me from wholeness. I had blaring issues I needed to confront, but like many, I was able to avoid them on a day to day basis. Anxiety, obsessive compulsive patterns, panic attacks and depression were pummeling me like a category five hurricane. 

As many do, I spent a lot of time trying to patch holes, looking for quick fixes, until I made the decision to let God repair the foundations of my heart. No chasing symptoms anymore. It was time for me to get to the root issues of my life. This new perspective permanently changed my life trajectory. When it came to my personal growth and the ministry of helping others, I was no longer satisfied with surface Christian living.  

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