Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pendulums and Plumb Lines: Adventures in Ambiguity (Part X)

Like a swinging pendulum, when we exit a group, we can easily get caught up in the drama of life and created excitement, mistaking it for healthy living. (And keep in mind that as dynamic beings, we do swing out to extremes now and then, but we tend not to live in the extreme all of the time.)

This takes quite a bit of time for us when we exit a group. We have to learn what it feels like to be comfortable with balance – and for many of us, we had little to none of it to watch and learn and live. I, too, experienced my own swinging around to find my own balance, and I also still work at emotional self-regulation.

Riding out the Swing?

Pendulums are driven by inertia which keep them swinging until their energy depletes. The dynamics of being alive, like gravity's pull on a Focault pendulum always puts some drive into the swing as can be observed in science museums and with a tabletop pendulum which draws patterns in the sand, tracing the spin of the earth. The added energy from pulling the bob to an extreme angle from plumb and by the weight / mass of the bob translate to inertia which continues to power a wide swing.

By analogy, you probably can't do much about the chaos of the extreme angle where you started when you broke away from your rigid position of bounded choice.

Many of us end up in bad relationships or other bad religions as we work to find our balance. Personally, I swung over from Word of Faith into Shepherding/Discipleship/Gothard, because that extreme of a micromanaged life seemed like a better alternative to the “name it and claim it” chaos. All I'd done was swing to a new extreme. But that's okay. I also left the Gothard church and ended up at the same Presbyterian church that Doug Phillips attended! But with more ease with freedom, time, and healing, my own inertia started to drop.

What can a former member do?

Can you do anything to drop your force of inertia? You can drop mass. Work through the baggage of your trauma and your tendency to prefer extremes in life with a therapist. It will help to drop the mass that powers the extremity of your swing. Stay physically active and keep a journal to work on building good, healthy internal dialogue to develop peace with the concept of balance, grounding, and plumb, and all these things will take force out of your swing.

As you may note in the video below, everything swings based on its inertia. Note that the bobs on the shorter strings swing faster and long ones swing at a slower rate, but they all eventually lose inertia. Also take note that all the bobs in the video below are the same size. Drop your own mass to drop your inertia, and you can do that by working through your trauma and by learning about healthy dynamics.


We are all different like the the varied lengths of the strings on which the pendulums are suspended. Our recovery will look different from that of others because we are all constructed differently and come from different places in life.

Another benefit? Drama drops to a minimum when we “find center” by finding plumb – and that takes much less energy that you can use to choose things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. You don't have to conform to the constriction of control any longer, and there's so much less drama and chaos. Life is still life with all of it's pressures and cares, but the former member can find that life offers choices that gives alternatives to the tiring extremes.