Emotions: Can I Control Them?

You just got the news that you didn’t get the job promotion. You feel so alone in the world, like no one truly knows you. You didn’t get the grade you needed on the test. You got into a big argument with your spouse. You feel less than beautiful when comparing yourself to a stranger. You just saw on Instagram that you didn’t get invited to the party last night. You feel so lonely now that your children are all grown. You didn’t make the sports team. You think you’re unlovable because no guy ever shows any interest in you. You’re worried sick about who your kids will grow up to be. Your best friend is ignoring you. You’ve been running around for so long today that it makes you want to pull your hair out. You still grieve the loss of a loved one, even though you know heaven is a beautiful reality. You want so desperately for the next stage in life to come, but time just keeps dragging on.

Days Like These…

We’ve all had days like these at every age and every stage of life–days when life won’t let up. Days when when our circumstances just seem to drag us down. Days when we feel the brokenness of our world so keenly. On these days, the despair threatens to swallow us up. Our circumstances bring feelings of loneliness. Hopelessness. Negativity. Anger. Defeat. Stress. Rejection. Anxiety. Shame. Fear. Bitterness. Our emotions can so easily consume us and make us believe that we have no control over them.

I recently went through a period of feeling alone, stressed, and anxious. These emotions felt like a storm cloud hovering over me and it didn’t take much to make the cloud let forth the storm that was brewing inside of it. These negative emotions colored my outlook on life.  Can anyone else relate?

Last weekend, I attended the True Woman conference put on by Revive Our Hearts ministries and I heard some much needed truth. Dannah Gresh gave a message about emotions and I came away with some key takeaways:

  1. Emotions are good. They respond to what is going on around us.
  2. Emotions aren’t always reliable. We don’t always respond to situations with the correct emotions.
  3. We don’t have to be victims of our emotions.

Our Emotions Will Try to Control Us

What would it look like if we combated our emotions? What would it look like if we asked our Father for the correct emotions?  What if we filled our minds with truth to help control our emotions?

In John 20:14-18, we see Mary Magdalene, overcome with grief, and rightly so. Her Lord had been crucified and now His body had been stolen from the tomb, She was overcome with sorrow.

“[Mary] turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardner, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’–and that he had said these things to her” (John 20:14:18)

Just like Mary, we get bogged by the weight of this world. Our emotions can consume us so that we can’t perceive reality correctly. Mary was in the presence Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him. She mistook Him for a gardener. But Jesus, who is the ultimate source of truth, reveals Himself to her. Our emotions can blind us and tell us lies about our circumstances. It’s only when we encounter Jesus, the Truth, that we can be set free from these lies.

After Mary encountered Jesus, she continued to declare the truth, “I have seen the Lord!” She declared this to others, but it was also a reminder to herself of the miracle she had just seen – her Lord had been raised from the dead!  

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Choosing to Surrender Our Emotions to Truth

It’s great and all to know that the truth has power over our emotions, but it’s difficult to remember truth when the going gets hard and our emotions start to take over in the moment. So what are some practical application steps?

  1. Choose believe truth. You are not powerless over your emotions. What you dwell on will become what you feel. You can make a conscious choice to give your emotions over to God.
  2. Encounter truth daily. Spend time in the Word, listen to music with truthful lyrics, fellowship with other believers. We have to know the Word of God if we’re going to stand a chance against our emotions.
  3. Declare truth to yourself and to others. When you want to compare your beauty to others, remind yourself of the truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are His works (Psalm 139:!4). When you feel lonely and unloved, dwell on the truth that God has loved you with an everlasting love and He has continued His faithfulness to you (Jeremiah 31:3). When despair begins to settle in, declare to yourself that the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Choosing truth is a moment by moment decision, but it leads to freedom and fullness in Christ.

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