Have you ever seen a Lurk? Lurks are common but most people won’t recognize them. A Lurk reminds me of the Mimic octopus, who has a unique way of camouflaging as it blends in with the seafloor and its surroundings by changing its skin color and the shape of its tentacles to take on the shape of other sea creatures.
Perhaps many of you are hearing about the Lurk for the first time but I am here to assure you it exists, and I believe you have seen it all the while not realizing that you have. The Lurk can be dangerous in a creepy kind of way. I know that it took me awhile to recognize the Lurk, similar to those puzzles that have a hidden image that you must discover. The Lurk has only one enemy, that is the enemy of being dismissed, not believed, relegated to being inconsequential.
I think it’s important for me to let you know the Lurk’s biggest threats because it’s important that you not only recognize the Lurk but that you know how to keep yourself safe from it, especially since it can be very, very dangerous.
The Lurk threatens you in one of three ways (sometimes all three). The Lurk will induce paralyzing fear, unimaginable anxiety and possibly draw you into a dark hole of self-loathing. These three toxic bites by the Lurk can be fatal or at the very least, incredibly distracting and demoralizing. I’ll take a minute and elaborate.
Fear, for a human being, is often anticipated and rarely actual. Neuroscientists speak often about a projected fear… where we project a fear of something not yet realized. The insanity of this is that it often affects our “now” moment. For example, I am healthy now but find myself pre-occupied with the idea that I may not be healthy in the future which then invites me to become discouraged and distracted about the moment I am living in now. I may get moody, nervous, self-absorbed, uncaring, depressed, distracted and disillusioned. Remember that the Lurk’s only enemy is being dismissed. Perhaps we dismiss this so-called anticipated fear and respond by celebrating the health we now have and thank God for it. Perhaps we stop and ponder, journal and take inventory of what is real and how God provides. Certainly, life is not perfect, and we do manage many difficulties and disappointments, but God clearly says He is present in our “now” lives.
Anxiety is related to fear and has the innate ability to cause us to perceive either the past, future or current situation with a cloudy lens, similar to having cataracts. Anxiety can blind us to what is true and actually create its own reality. Psychologists and philosophers talk about a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” meaning that we think it therefore it becomes. For example, perhaps you are working at your job and you have contacted your boss regarding a particular question related to a task that you have been assigned. However, you have not heard back from your boss. In the meantime, you read a post on your news feed that unemployment is growing and that many companies are looking for ways to reduce their payroll. The news feed is followed by a text from a friend, sharing they have just been fired.
The Lurk has bit. You are in full anxiety mode, convinced that your boss has not responded to you because you are on the short list of people that are scheduled to lose their jobs. Your behavior now changes and rather than working on your tasks, you start looking at updating your resume and placing an ad on ZipRecruiter. Your heart is racing, you are thinking about cutting your budget and sad because you had planned to go on a small holiday with your friends and that may not happen now. I actually could continue but right now you are probably anxious just reading this fictional situation (note: you later realize your boss had sent a companywide email saying that she was going on vacation and getting off the grid and will not be responding to emails).
I want you to be reminded that the Lurk is repelled by truth and truth is often discovered in a state of gratitude and solitude. The Bible commands us “not to be anxious” and shares that there is an antidote; it’s called rejoicing (the gratitude part), which can be manifested in prayer, in pondering on God’s Truth and on pausing and reflecting (the solitude part) on what is fact versus what is actually fiction.
Lastly, self-loathing is incredibly toxic because it has the tendency to become a constant versus a moment. Self-loathing is like black mold and will grow and eventually take over everything and make the place unlivable. Self-Loathing (follow me now) is the digesting of a lie where the perception of yourself is authored in such a way that you become your own enemy, and since you are always around you, the loathing becomes the constant, like a headache that won’t go away. The worldview by which you live life is now seen through this filter of self-loathing, and now everything in your life, your relationships, your decisions, the manner in which you spend your time, how you apply yourself at work, the way you treat yourself physically, the habits (often bad) that you allow into your life and most painful of all, the way you see God, is affected. The Lurk knows that self-loathing is toxic and will use all kinds of means to deceive us onto a path of self-loathing. However, the Lurk is powerless when we shift our lens and rather than judge ourselves from a murky viewpoint, we shift and look at ourselves through Jesus’ point of view and we see a very different picture. The self-loathing disappears as we sit at the feet of Jesus and He tells us what He sees. Learning to shift how we perceive ourselves takes practice and cannot be done alone but once it becomes your default, the Lurk is virtually powerless… frankly the Lurk becomes “toothless” and it’s quite a despicable site.
Therefore, you are now forewarned. The Lurk exists and you must take it seriously. You must not allow the knowledge of the existence of the Lurk to lower your guard and unknowingly become infected with its toxic venom. The Lurk is not your friend. Therefore, knowing that the Lurk is “lurking,” be reminded that God is ever present and protects His children. Draw close to God, meditate on Him day and night, know Him and be humble enough to realize you can’t fight off the Lurk in your own strength. God’s presence and strength allows us to dismiss the Lurk and, therefore, live a fulfilled life of peace.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.