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Overcoming Compartmentalization

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Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body. (Proverbs 3:7-8)

One of the great mistakes in our Christian faith has been the sin of compartmentalization. “Compartmentalization” is “the division of something into sections or categories.” Faith, for a Christian, is not something that just gets compartmentalized to Sunday morning, but is the center of who we are, in our being. There is danger to our soul when we begin to compartmentalize our lives. It can be like tearing off pieces of our soul.

I heard Pastor, and former Columbia Theological Seminary Professor, Dr. Roger Nishioka, speak to this issue at a conference at Dubuque Theological Seminary. He talked of the Roman Catholic Priests who have committed sexual abuse, and Protestant Pastors who have committed sexual misconduct. He said they were not evil but struggling so profoundly that they had compartmentalized their lives to the point that one part of their lives could include acting like a productive Priest or Pastor, yet in another part of their lives, commit horribly inappropriate actions time-and-again. These people can hold it together, sometimes for decades, but in time life inevitably crumbles.

Jesus was so good at keeping his life together holistically. He was the same person with the Samaritan woman, that he was with his Apostles, that he was with Pontius Pilate, and the same person on the Cross. Jesus was guided by his faith, that allowed him to put aside manipulation, guilt, anger, and all the destructive emotions that lead to actions that necessitate compartmentalization. Jesus looked at himself honestly and turned to God for direction and honest reflection of his life.

Today, prayerfully ask God to honestly reflect your life back to you, so you are able to see if you have built any unhealthy compartments in your life. If your prayer leaves you unsteady or concerned, don’t panic, just think through your activities at different times in life. Ask God to free you from any walls you have built within yourself, so you are able to live a spiritually holistic life. Trust God to care and to heal you. If you happen to remain troubled, do not hesitate to seek a therapist to help bring down the compartments that may have been built. Doing so could just return a freedom to your life you never thought possible.