Before I write about a Foe (Enemy), I’m going to first write about a Friend, or to be more specific, about words that a good Friend once shared with me during a specific conversation that we had around ten years ago.
At some point in the conversation he said the following words.
“Reuben, Family are Familiar with you, that’s why they are called Family, because they are Famil-iar”.
Now, both You and I know that those words aren’t going to go down in History in the same way as “I have a Dream” or “Houston, we’ve had a problem” did.
They did however hit me in such a way that they have stuck with me ever since.
They left me seriously questioning the role that familiarity plays, not just in my relationships with Family and Friends, but so too with all people and all areas in my life.
It ‘seems’ to be that in many cases, close Family and Friends know us better than anyone else, for it is with them that we can feel at home and be free in ourselves.
They see, hear and experience the good, bad and ugly side of who we are as individuals.
Their long term association with us has left them very familiar with us, and vice versa.
Familiarity is a good base to draw from and build upon in one’s own Individual life as well as in a relationship/friendship.
This is especially true where trust has been established over time.
As you look at the picture above, words such as trust, friendship, love and familiarity will understandably spring to your mind.
As nice and as lovely as it may appear, within that familiar image of trust however, lies a familiar yet very well hidden foe. Let me blow it open with a truth bomb to expose the foe within.
Ladies and Gentlemen, ‘Familiarity’ is the Familiar Foe itself. Surprised? Well, let me tell you a little story.
Familiarity in its original, healthy, friendly and very productive form, bred a set of unidentical twins called comfort and structure, both of which were trained to be the good and useful healthy tools required by individuals, friendships, relationships, groups and organisations etc to survive and thrive.
As Comfort and Structure began to contribute to peoples lives, they became increasingly familiar with one another.
This Familiarity was not just the end product of their relationship but it was also the making of a Foe.
This Foe disguised himself in the image of the original and healthy Familiarity which had earlier given birth to Comfort and Structure. It operated under the cover of Friendship and still continues to do so.
The individual is often unaware that this unhealthy end product exists due to the fact that they simply view Familiarity as something they have grown used to.
It is therefore left unchecked and unchallenged, and because of this, it becomes impossible for the indivudal to tell the difference between Familiarity the Friend, and Familiarity the Foe.
Over time, Familiarity the friend helped build and shape a comfortable and structured base for individuals to operate out of, for the purpose of expanding the base itself.
Familiarity the insecure Foe works against this purpose however by slowly drawing an invisible line around both comfort and structure.
This line effectively creates a territory within that is known as ‘The Comfort Zone’.
This zone, which used to be the individuals base, in the end gets taken over by Familiarity the Foe,
His weakness and insecurity as well as his refusal to confess this weakness and insecurity, in the end leads him into attempting to manipulate every situation within the individuals life.
He does this in order to gain control, with the Hope of finally gaining the sense of security within himself that he so desperately needs.
It is a sense of Security that remains with the orignal Familiarity the Friend, and one that cannot be immitated
Familiarity the Foe’s attempts however are to the detriment of the individual.
Unknown to the individual, Familiarity quietly, slowly and very deceptively transforms the newly declared comfort zone into a prison whilst falsely appearing as Familiarity the Friend.
He draws the trusting individual back to base by claiming that the feared armies of Change, Growth, Development and Renewal have made a pact together to destroy his base and kill him.
Familiarity the Foe continues to both confuse and deceive the now very frightened and uncertain individual by whispering sweet little hope filled nothings into his ear.
He reminds him of all the good, familiar and now overly romantiscised times that he has had.
Familiarity assures him that he has his best interests at heart and proves it by arming him with the promise of a shield called Safety and a sword called Security.
The Individual upon hearing Familiar’s caring, friendly and very familiar voice, as well as the promise of both safety and security, casts his doubts aside and recommits himself to Familiarity the Foe who he continues to mistake for Familiarity the Friend.
Familiarity the Foe uses both the inabilitiy of the individual to tell the difference between friend and foe, and the willingness of the individual to beleive the promise of safety and security, to his own advantage.
In the process, Familiarity renames the comfort zone as ‘Normal’ and tells the Individual that he is living in the most accepted and desired place on Earth.
Familiarity the Foe tricks the individual into a false sense of personal strength upon which he builds his confidence.
Unknown to the individual however, Familiarity has taken ‘Comfort’ hostage.
Poor easy going Comfort, who only had good intentions and purposes to help the individual go further and reach his full potential, is instead turned into a blindfold that is securely fastened around the now proud and confident Individuals eyes.
On the outside of the Blindfold, the word ‘Fool’ is written for Familiarity the Foe’s own entertainment, yet on the Individuals side of the blindfold, the only word that is visible seems to be the word ‘Wise’.
Because the individual sees Comfort, and only Comfort, he is tricked into beleiving that he has made the right decision to beleive and follow Familiarity
As The individual and Comfort begin to spend more time together, Familiarity goes on to take Comforts twin brother ‘Structure’ hostage.
Familiarity gives Structure a makeover and re-introduces him to the proud, confident, yet blindfolded individual as a mysterious character called ‘The Familiar Way’.
The Familiar Foe tells the Individual that The Familiar Way is a descendent of a well known Family called ‘Religion’ who will give him everything he wants.
The Familiar Foe not only explains to the Individual how the Familiar Way is the only member out of this Family who puts the wellbeing of the Individual at its centre, but so too that The Familiar Way himself is what makes the Family of Religion Religious to begin with.
The Individal is advised and encouraged to have blind faith in what The Familiar Way says and does.
Under the intructions of The Familiar Way, The individual starts to learn and follow the new rules given and comes to realise that these rules do indeed put his wellbeing first and decides to bow down in worship to The Familiar Way.
The Familiar Way teaches the Individual to not only learn from him and follow him, but also to defend and fight for him. He Reminds the individual that his own existence and survival depends on it.
Many Years pass by until one day The Armies of Change, Growth, Development and Renewal arrive unexpectedly and knock on the tightly shut doors of ‘Normal’.
This knocking comes and goes. Sometimes the knocks last an hour or a day, and sometimes the knocks go on for weeks, months and even years.
Sometimes between the knocks on the doors, and the worried, insecure and very jealous screams of Familiarity the Foe, the Individual can hear The Armies of Growth, Change, Development and Renewal shouting out to him and asking him to remove the blindfold of Comfort, but both Familiarity and The Familiar Way forbid him to do so.
The shouts keep coming, again and again, warning him that his base is now a prison and that he needs to see it for himself.
They call out to him, telling him that their commander in chief ‘Powerful Potential’ has sent them to rescue him.
They inform him that they are there to help him and empower him as they travel back along that uncertain and often uncomfortable road called ‘Path of Preparation’ which leads to a place called ‘The New Jerusalem’ to which he is being called.
They remind him of his two hands called ‘Free’ and ‘Will’ and tell them to use them both to take Comfort of his eyes.
They make it clear to him that they have been given orders to come in and rescue him but only if he uses Free and Will first to remove Comfort.
If he does not, then they will have no other choice but to leave him in ‘Normal’, under the rule of Familiarity, dictated to by The Familiar Way, and blinded by Comfort.
They make it clear to him that they will keep knocking on the doors regardless, but remind him that the choice is his.
If he decides to use Free and Will to remove Comfort from his eyes, it will be a mark of Trust and Faith in a long forgotten Familiar Friend and the base of comfort and structure will be restored for him to operate out of and expand base.
If he decides to use Free and Will to tighten his blindfold and keep it fixed in place, it will be a mark of trust and faith in a Familiar Foe and the prison of comfort will only serve to strengthen The Familiar Ways hold over him.
If one decides to keep the blindfold of comfort on for the purpose of living a self centred, self controlled life, it is equal to declaring oneself God in a religion of self serving rituals.
A religion in which the individual is left with a powerlessness that both contradicts and defeats the individuals sought after God status.
Familiarity, along with its comfort and structure is therefore proven to be a means to an end. A base of operations from which to simply fly out of.
Shoot for the stars folks, because comfort zones are for wimps. Wimps who choose to keep the blindfold of comfort on whilst the so called promises of inner safety and inner security continue to fail them miserably.
Familiarities weaknesses are revealed when one is suddenly faced with the unfamiliar and becomes threatened by it. This leads to discomfort, and in turn, the need for a comfort zone.
Familiarity can come in different forms. For example, problems do not just rest within our own Familiarity, but so too within the familiarity which comes from others.
Careful not to challenge or upset those who tend to be Familiar with us, we tend to keep the relationship on a familiar level, at the expense of all the change, growth and development which has already taken place within ourselves, and continues to take place within ourselves.
All of this change and growth no longer fits the small Familiar picture we find ourselves working from so as to relate to one another.
Others will base their familiarity with us on our mistakes and will be there to remind us of our faults and failures when we start to do things right.
This is often because it is a challenge to the familiar picture that has been built up over time. It is a picture that they have grown comfortable with in order to relate from.
The reason for this is because they have used the mistakes made by others as a tool to turn their own feelings of inferiority into a feeling of superiority, but it remains just that, a feeling with no substance.
How and in what way people are Familiar with us, will ultimately determine the labels that their Familiarity will place upon us.
Every one of us have people in our lives whose Familiarity with us stems from many different time periods in our lives, both past and present.
They may have been happy times or sad times, good times or bad times, normal times or crazy times. They may be from Family relationships or Friendships. They may be from School or Work relationships.
It may have to do with our Private or Public Life. It may be from a time in childhood or adulthood. It may be linked to successess and failures or rights and wrongs.
The labels given to us from those who are in someway or another Familiar with us, will ultimately be either positive or negative.
Those labels are sometimes intentional and sometimes non intentional. They will however leave us with a message that will both consciously and subconsciously affect us.
The messages may cause us hurt and pain and serve to box us in further, leading us to continue building our own comfort zone prisons.
Alternatively the messages may encourage us and remind us that we are made for so much more.
Let’s also remember that it works exactly the same way for others who are also changing and growing in good ways that we ourselves may or may not know about.
The temptation to avoid pain and hurt, through building a comfort zone to protect us, is all around us. We are all at risk of being imprisoned within a comfort zone, because, well… we all like and want comfort.
To avoid the pitfalls, we must stay alert regarding the Familiar Foe and resist him at all costs.
Friends, ‘Powerful Potential’ is calling all of us to come along the Path of Preparation that leads to The New Jerusalem and into a Bright yet unfamiliar future alongside a Familiar Friend.
The armys of Change, Growth, Development and Renewal are at our doors every day.
Sometimes we might hear their knocks, sometimes we might hear their shouts, and sometimes we might hear nothing at all.
Either way, never settle for the Familiar but instead continue to ‘Get to know’. Free Will is in our hands.
Onwards and Upwards Friends.