Friday, 14 November 2014

Emotions: Controlled or Controlling?

I climb aboard the car and buckle myself in. The harness is strapped in tight. The car starts to move forward and there is excitement as I, and the people in front of me, rise into the sky. There is a thrill of being above the ground, an air of appreciation of the view below. There are shrieks and the laughter all around.

My emotional state is quite the rollercoaster ride. I have climbed into a rollercoaster, sometimes tentatively, expecting ups and downs to occur. The elation of feeling on top of the world and in control is only squashed by the drops and the turns of feeling discouraged, frustrated, angry, upset, you name it, as the rollercoaster takes me along its course. I am a fool to think I have any ounce of control.

Before I know it, I explode. An eruption of emotions none of which I can explicitly label. The emotions are so intense, it is scary sometimes. My mind is a foggy mess; I don’t feel good and never know which way to turn.

Recently, I began to experience physical anxiety symptoms. I am no stranger to anxiety but I thought I had it somewhat under control. All of a sudden, with changes to my life of a new job, I began to feel anxious. There were also other emotions running around. I was feeling frustrated. I was feeling discouraged. After several days of this, it was the night of bible study. I drove myself to where it was being held. As soon as I parked the car, the volcano hit. I burst into tears. Uh oh, out of control crazy emotions.

I have struggled to see that emotions can be a good thing. In the past, I have believed that such intense emotions are sinful. But, Jesus felt emotions- He felt angry, and He felt upset- to the point He wept when Lazarus died. What Jesus did not do, was sin whenever He felt strong emotions. Unfortunately, for me there is a lot of temptation in lashing out at someone; becoming destructive against myself; or exhibiting behaviour that is sinful the minute I feel a particularly strong emotion.

 It is tough, but a comforting truth comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you that is uncommon to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." I may be strongly tempted, but God has provided a way out- I can lean on His strength to withstand it. I can take comfort knowing I am not alone through the temptation.

I can also continue on the path of righteousness, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9.) The actual emotion isn’t the sin. It is the action I take as a result of that emotion that is sinful.

I have found it hard to accept the fact that emotions reveal our hearts. It is a humbling experience to be reminded that I am far from perfect. I may struggle with temptation to fall into addictive behaviours but my heart still needs to be restored. I may not be able to run away from my emotions but I can be in control of them, instead of my emotional state controlling me. I do not need to be a slave to my feelings. I do need to trust God with them. I need to allow God to heal and restore my heart so that instead of anger, jealously, anxiety and manipulation flowing out of it, there is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23.)

To be active in this battle of controlled vs. controlling emotions, I can:
  •          Pray to God- submit the day to Him; cry out to Him in times of emotional messes; trust Him with my emotions, that He can mould me and shape me.
  •          Use bible verses as my weapons against the eruptions.
  •          Talk to people- be open about what I am feeling before I get to the point of releasing anger; becoming destructive, etc.

Who’s on board for the rollercoaster ride with me?

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