Thursday, August 18, 2011

Emotional Management

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
I've been avoiding this topic for weeks. Emotions are so complicated, even for those of us who are more in tune to our own. Negative emotions are, by far, my biggest struggle. Anger, frustration, resentment, jealousy, pride and stubbornness can lead me in the worst of places. These things can sneak in on me just when I think I have it under control. It never ends well because they always wind up causing trouble.

I've been reading a book about the struggles of the women in the Bible and they all have one thing in common, negative emotions. Each of them have their own struggles, and I find myself relating to each one in some way. As I read more, the message becomes louder and clearer: get your emotions under control.

This morning, what should have been an easy conversation with my husband turned ugly fast. It was all due to my lack of emotional management. If we can't take whatever hits us, whether it be out of criticism or love,  and handle it without short circuiting then we have some growing to do--and that is the conclusion I draw for myself.

I'm sick and tired of living by whatever my emotions tell me to. They aren't The Truth yet I let them rule over me in a way makes them my King. I allow them to bring distance and confusion to otherwise perfectly great and fulfilling times. If I feel it, my knee-jerk reaction is to run with it. The slightest things can cause me to feel rejection, disrespect, humiliation, and most often resentment. I can go from feeling SO close to God and having SUCH loving relationships with those around me to feeling lonely in mere seconds. A simple misunderstanding leaves me feeling defensive and the result is overreaction on my part.

I'm a vocal person, and I find myself having to slow my tongue and wait on the rest of me to catch up. He's been reminding me to slow down and listen. The times when I struggle to hear Him most are those when my emotions scream the loudest. I've often found myself pleading with Him to speak to me about this just to realize later that He has been all along. I choose to let the noise of my emotions get out of control. I treat them as if they were someone else's children running wild in Wal-Mart. I let them go and hope someone else will deal with them before they tear something up. Even if no one else notices, the noise they cause takes over in a way that nothing else can get my attention.

My husband reminds me often that "we can choose our reactions." This is true in more way than one. Not only can we choose how to react outwardly, but we have a choice on what goes on inside us as well. We can calm these "children" of ours before they take over, or we can let them run rampant. We can choose to dwell on them, or we can choose positive thoughts. We are in charge of our own emotions, no matter who we want to blame for their uprising. And we have to be, because no one else can tame them for us. And does it not say more about us if we allow ourselves to be overrun by negative emotions, than it does those whom we blame for causing them?

I read an article this morning, in my effort to understand the role of negative emotions. I come away with this: we have to evaluate our emotions in the light of God's word. This is quite significant although for some of us it's close enough to bite us yet we just can't manage to see it. God's word gives us all we need. He, if we allow it, will show us the morsels contained within. But we have to want it. We have to be sick and tired of doing it our own way.

I've also come to understand that our emotions are a sort of check and balance built within us. They tell us that there is some dysfunction within us, and within our relationships and that we are not what we need to be. They are a reminder of our brokenness and the broken world we live in. They remind us that we are in danger in some way. We wouldn't feel negative thoughts if everything inside and around us was perfect, now would we? Relationship deficiencies cause us the most problems and sometimes cause those emotions to short circuit, leaving us in need of a great electrician --our Creator.

We were made in His image, thus we were made to have a relationship with Him and His people. We were also made to serve others, and until we learn to love others as He loves us, we will all battle negative emotions. We have to learn to set ourselves aside, which in itself is the hardest thing in the world no matter how unselfish you consider yourself to be. We have to learn the right balance in everything we do, because it is quite like juggling with both arms and both legs. But anything worth doing doesn't come easily, right. The value in doing things His way is that we are rewarded with emotional health because we come to expect less and offer more.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...Proverbs 23:7
My prayer lately is that I learn to be led by Him and His truths, not by my "feelings". And when I do feel those negative emotions, I'm trying to learn to look to Him. A big part of that for me is learning to quiet those noisy things in order to hear Him. Just as physical pain is meant to cause us to seek medical care, emotional pain is meant to lead us to The Great Physician--Jesus Christ.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44
He doesn't generally remove those things right away, but He teaches us how to deal with them. He sheds light on what's hiding underneath in order to heal us from the inside out and make us clean.

We were made for more than just this. Only He can take something meant to hurt us and make it benefit us. Only He can truly heal us. Only He can make us whole. And He's obviously has a "God at Work" sign hanging on me. This, my friends, is gonna take a while because I have a lot of "dirt". But Thing 1 and Thing 2 must be tamed in the process.

I encourage you to hang in there, fight the good fight and keep believing in Him. Don't quit, you're not clean yet.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled”.
-Matthew 5:6

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