Wednesday, October 16

handling emotions

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things Gal. 5:22, 23

I have felt discouraged all day. I tend to be one of those people who do not normally fluctuate between the highs and lows of emotions. While I am grateful that I do not sink into despair, I wonder what it would be like to feel the ‘highs’ more often. Today, as life circumstances combine with the silence of God, I find myself wondering how am I to respond to these emotions. Part of my faith background tells me emotions are synonymous with the fruit of the Spirit; if I feel sad, that is not of the Spirit so I should repent and fight until I feel/experience “joy”. This false equation, between emotion and fruit, has led to much unconscious guilt in my life. More than that, it has led to a negative perception of emotions in general.

I do realize there is a correlation here, meaning if I feel angry all the time or live in a state of sadness that the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit is hindered in some way in my life. That aside, what I am learning is that emotions are natural, they are going to feel good and they are going to feel bad, The real measuring stick of the “fruit” is how I respond to those emotions.

My family has endured some hard circumstances. I do not understand why things are playing out the way they are, if I stepped out of line or not, or what I am to learn from these things. So I wait, I pray, I ask, but God is silent. Still, in all of this I know two things 1. God is and 2. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Remembering these two things shifts my perspective to a new question: What does this emotion tell me? Where is it coming from? How do I handle it? How do I take this discouragement, lay it at the feat of Jesus, and ask Him to sift my heart showing me what I cannot see? I must allow myself to feel, while not allowing the feeling to overtake me but rather become the mirror. Yet, if I look into the mirror with my own eyes I will most likely become deceived, so I pray that I would see as God sees, from His perspective.

I do not think this is the right response in all situations. Sometimes we really do need to simply recognize the emotion, recognize the truth, repent, and move on. However, there are other times where we need to allow God to deal with what is really going on. In most cases, or maybe all, the circumstances do not cause the emotion but serve to reveal things that were present all along but we could not see.

Overall, I am thankful that even when God is silent, He is present. He is still unfolding His plan and drawing me closer to His heart along the way.  

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