Don’t Step On My Blue Suede Shoes

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Several years ago Elvis Presley belted out this song:

It’s one for the money
Two for the show
Three to get ready
And go cat go.
But don’t you step on my blue suede shoes
You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes.

Did you know everybody’s has at least one pair of emotional “blue suede shoes”? You’ll know when someone is stepping on them, because you’ll usually over react. These are your emotional trigger points. They get set off when a painful memory or an unmet need is touched upon through an experience. They are highly subjective. Research tells us that except for universal stressors like war or natural disaster, it is our perception of an experience that determines our mood, feelings and therefore our responses. Even Elvis knew that:

Well, you can knock me down
Step in my face
Slander my name
All over the place
Do anything that you want to do
But uh-uh, honey
Lay off of my shoes
Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes
Well, you can do anything
But stay off of my blue suede shoes

Knocked down! Slandered! Stepped on! None of these things bothered him. They weren’t his sensitivity points. This means that what can deeply affect you may not touch another person at all. It may not bother you when a close friend receives an invitation to a wedding and you do not, even though you both know the bride approximately the same amount of time. Someone else might experience this as a painful rejection. And why they do is often connected to a root of pain, which has never been addressed.

Let’s look at the example of Ruth and Naomi. They faced the same series of events, famine and the death of their husbands. Yet Ruth did not become bitter like her mother-in-law. She adjusted to the reality of her situation. What was Ruth’s perception? Maybe, she didn’t feel entitled to a life without sorrow? Perhaps the love of God so filled her heart that she trusted in frightful circumstance? Or is it that she didn’t perceive herself as a victim, so she was able to go forward. All this made her resilient.

Take the case of Jonathan and Saul and their relationship with David. Jonathan could have been angry because he was the heir to the throne and yet David was chosen for that role. Yet Jonathan became David’s best friend. Contrast Saul ‘s reaction as he perceived David through the lens of jealousy and control. What was he telling himself as the women sang David’s praise? Did the inner voice of rejection poison his mind? Was David ‘s success a trigger for Saul’s remembered failure as he lost the kingship through disobedience?

And most of all, Yeshua who said “Father, forgive them they know not what they do” while being nailed to a cross. (Luke23:34). Next time your feel trod on, and you’re caught in what I call ‘the vortex’, a place of replaying the same conversation over and over with an angry or hurt rush of emotion, try uncovering the lie holding you captive. What wound is pressed on? Rejection? Loss of control? Injustice?

Write on one side of a piece of paper how you perceive the situation. Ask the Lord, “Am I believing a lie about myself like “I’m unworthy” or “unlovable” Then pray and invite God’s perspective. Ask Him, “What is your truth in these circumstances?” This is life-changing prayer. It gives Yeshua a gateway to enter deeply into your mind and heart. What does Scripture say about your true identity and place of rest? As you open to restoration, forgiveness and repentance once again, Yeshua calls you ‘overcomer’, not ‘failure’.

This is an opportunity to know yourself and God better. If you understand your triggers they begin to lose power. You can identify them as your personal pitfalls and handle them with more grace as you receive healing. You can pick up your shield of faith, as did Eliezer Berkowitz in the Nazi death camps

Rabbi Eliezer Berkowitz in his book With God in Hell: Judaism in the Ghettos and Death Camp[1] describes his experience in the Holocaust. Berkowitz realized that even the most humiliating treatment, which was itself designed to strip people of their humanity, could not determine his worth. He states that he and other observant Jews in the concentration camp determined that it was their role to guard the Imago Dei, the image of God within them. This meant if they had to get up at 4am to work, they got up at 3am to pray. If they were thrown a scrap of moldy bread, they blessed it.  For Berkovitz, the Holocaust was a spiritual confrontation against pure evil. Those who followed Jewish observances, even in the camps performed a sacred service to God. By doing so, they guarded the divine image in mankind by facing unimaginable suffering and relentless degradation while keeping their faith.  In the midst of it all, they had fellowship with God.

Above all remember this, the deepest part of you belongs to the Lord, and nothing can take away that belonging. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. (Romans 8:38-39)

This article originally appeared on Anchor of Hope Family Counseling Center, November 14, 2016, and reposted with permission.


[1] Berkowitz, Eliezer. (1979). With God in Hell: Judaism in the ghettos and death camps. New York, NY: Sanhedrin Press.

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Dr. Snyder is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with an MS in Education and Fuller Theological Seminary with a Ph.D. in Marital and Family Counseling. She has over 10 years clinical experience. Her work experience includes Chaplaincy in the National Institutes of Health, Clinical Research Center, Bethesda Maryland, Assessment Supervisor at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, D.C. and Employee Assistance Consultant in the Federal Government. Dr. Snyder holds dual citizenship with the United States and Israel. She became an Israeli citizen in 1983. Her vision for a Messianic Counseling Center began in the 1990’s, and is seeing fulfillment in the Anchor of Hope Counseling Center and Lay Counseling Training Program.