It will be exciting to see many of you in Denver this month. We are going to experience joy and learn to stay connected to Jesus and to our people, even when we are in enemy mode. We are going to share stories from the field and hear how it is going.
How is escaping enemy mode going for you? I feel my journey has just begun. I could not have defined “enemy mode” or described its damaging effects three years ago. Now, with a book written and many training courses concluded, I see enemy mode around me and in me at times. Defining and describing is easy; consistently escaping enemy mode is an on-going daily struggle to be the person I was created to be.
What is changing for me? My awareness and preparation to escape. I know deep in my bones that operating in enemy mode is an emotional, mental, and relational disability that impairs every relational interaction. Knowledge of the subject is not enough without emotional awareness arising from my body. I carry in my body the burden of the harm enemy mode has done to me, my family, and relationships.
My preparation to escape centers on daily Immanuel prayer practices, noticing maturity gaps, practicing brain skills, and seeking healing for traumas. All the training I have taken since 2018 is a good start, but putting training into practice takes lots of commitment and repetition. I am learning to be more prayerful. A therapist is helping me connect emotional dots and meet Jesus in past pain.
The most impactful change has been walking this out relationally with my wife, Deborah. She is my rescue attachment who models staying relational with the Lord and people and has permission to call me to be my best self. She names my enemy mode when I don’t notice.
What still needs to change? I don’t always notice capacity limits. When my relational and physical capacity are low, and the pressure is high, enemy mode to “get things done” is a well-worn neural pathway. Enemy mode episodes reveal some maturity gaps. My character is being shaped, but the process of rewiring those pathways is painstaking. I’ll be on this journey for the rest of my life. I am preparing to escape it every day.
What about “real enemies”? While we were writing Escaping Enemy Mode, a young leader said “Escaping enemy mode? Hmm. What if they are real enemies?” His question haunts me. Those were exactly the people Jesus meant, but it seems impossible. Our world is more divided than ever. Enemy mode tells us that others are not on our side. Our brains get locked in, convinced that even people who might be trying to help us are our enemies.
Brains locked into enemy mode create a world of US and THEM. Enemy mode doesn’t seek reconciliation or promote understanding. Enemies on the other side are evil people to be defeated. An art critic recently urged his social media followers to shun anyone who didn’t agree with his political views. A retiree was having a friendly conversation on a school playground with a woman he had just met. When she learned he was retired from law enforcement, she blurted “You are my enemy” and abruptly walked away while pointing to her “defund the police” t-shirt. I hear stories like these and feel sad and angry.
Jesus still tells us to pray for and love our enemies. Jesus models how he practiced enemy love. When followers of Jesus have been at their best since the 1st century, they have modeled enemy love. The Church, at her best, has always been filled with former enemies who are now family.
Here’s what I have learned. Jesus tells us: Love your enemies. Typical of Jesus’ teaching, we are facing Scriptural truths impossible to fulfill on our own without God’s help.
Lord, help us become part of a people who love our enemies. Make us people who see our enemies as You see them. Help me form connections to people who love like you love!