Emotions. We have so many: gladness, sorrow, joy, peace, pain, heartache, worry, guilt, love and kindness are but a few. If challenge has taught me anything, it has been to embrace my emotions. Not just the fluffy, happy ones, but the messy, scary not always straight-forward ones that are hard to navigate.
I didn’t always used to feel this way. I actually took a lot of pride in being even-keeled and staying cool under pressure, in not being reactionary. Now I am still all of those things, don’t get me wrong. The difference is I no longer feel like I have to be those things. In other words, I no longer care to maintain an image. I am simply myself.
Before, if something ugly happened I would just rush over it and wish it away, or I would act like it was no big deal even though internally my heart would be in shreds. Then I would stuff it away so deeply I could convince myself it was gone. Problem was, it would spill out in the most unexpected places and at rather inconvenient times!
I’ve learned when we deny our emotions, we keep ourselves from growing through them in a way that makes us better for the process. Clearly there is a time and a place, but sometimes we never make a time or a place to deal with our hearts. We lose ourselves in busyness; we throw ourselves into our kids or our work. We stop only long enough to remind ourselves to toughen up and get over it already. After all, people are going through far worse all around us.
God made you. Each and every part, and each and every emotion. Every thought, every decision shows you something about who you are and how you’re wired. Negative emotions, maybe even more than positive ones, teach us more about that wiring. When we take some time, however brief, to reflect on the “why,” we have a better shot at growing and actually moving forward in a way that’s real.
Emotions can also lie to us, another reason it’s important to confront them! I have these negative tapes that can play in my head and I’ve learned the PLAY button isn’t held exclusively by me. A bad meeting, that wrong look, the hurt I felt, or being rejected by someone I was interested in immediately make it start. “You’re stupid. You’re not worthy. You’re not enough. You’re too fat/ugly/old/young (pick the adjective!). What made you think…?” You know what I’m talking about!
Confronting these emotions is huge! Learning where they come from, getting things out in the open, and picking my way through my fears and failures with God by my side has brought me such tremendous healing and peace! I’ve learned to not just find the mute button, but to begin the process of “Rewind & Delete.” Then I get to hit play again with God’s truths:
“I am with you always, to the very end.” Mt. 28:20b
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17
“See, I have you engraved on the palms of my hands.” Is. 49:16a
“He placed me at his banquet table, for everyone to see that his banner over me declares his love.” SS 2:4
“What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.” Lk.12:7
It’s hard; it’s messy. Emotions rarely cooperate with us the way we want them to. But when you’re heart tells you run, remember God is standing next to you and will help you fight. And when that becomes your process, the victories are sweet!
For Further Thought: Re-read the scriptures listed above and pick out the one that speaks to you the most. Take some time this week to meditate over it and ask yourself what God is trying to show you. Then, memorize it!