Mastering our feelings instead of them mastering us

For so many years, I felt like a victim of my emotions…fear, despair and defeat to name a few. Over and over again I’d muster everything inside of myself to try to get above the onslaught of painful feelings. Finally, I decided it was just easier to leave my face in the dust than to try again. “Is this all there is,???” I screamed? “This can’t be the abundant life you promised your followers.” “What is WRONG with this picture???

One thing you won’t hear me say in this post is the word easy. Hope, yes! A solution, absolutely! But not easy. In fact, many attempting to break free will turn back. The road can be long and hard. So, where do we start? For me, my journey to freedom was rooted in God’s word. If we’re ever going to walk victorious over overwhelmingly painful emotions, we need to know something. The fruits of the Spirit are our inheritance. (love, joy, peace, etc. ) They are within our reach THIS SIDE OF ETERNITY. Psalm 25:12-13 says,

“Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.”

Our soul is the seat of our emotions and will. It includes our affections, desires, aversions, and personality

So, what does it mean for our emotions to abide in prosperity? It means our feelings will dwell at ease. It also means cheerful, or happy. Now, does this mean that if we take hold of God’s promises that we’ll never experience painful emotions? No, it doesn’t. There’s a big difference between temporarily experiencing painful emotions and DWELLING in painful emotions. It doesn’t matter how spiritually mature we become. Life is still going to happen. Sometimes life can throw us some zingers. It’s what we do with those painful life events that matters. Maturity leads us to process the pain as it happens. In Christ, we’re given the tools to treat painful emotions like a hot potato. In order to do this, we need to have faith to believe that it’s possible. That faith comes as we stand on the promises in God’s word. For example, Luke 21:19 says,

“By your patience possess your souls.”

To possess means to win mastery over. Instead of our emotions mastering us, we master our emotions. It’s been said that emotions are like children. You can’t stuff them in the trunk, but you shouldn’t let them drive the car either. Think of your emotions like a purse full of things. For this illustration, think of the purse as our mind and the things in the purse as our emotions. Let’s picture dumping what’s inside our purse on the table. Now, we get to decide which emotions we want to put back in our bag. If we’re going to do this with confidence, we need to really believe that God has given us the ability to choose our emotions. God wouldn’t command us to get rid of certain emotions if we had no ability to obey, right? Let’s look at some examples.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger…” Ephesians 4:31

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.” Isaiah 41:10

“Do not be anxious about anything.” Philippians 4:6

On the flip side, we’re commanded to choose certain feelings, i.e…

“Be strong and courageous…” Deut. 31:6

“Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy.” Psalm 100:2

Here’s the deal…we can take this as bad news or good news. We may look at God’s command as bad news if we get stuck on a mindset that says we’re just not good enough. Shame and feelings of inadequacy can keep up from taking hold of the freedom God offers us. The truth that we have the ability to choose our emotions IS GOOD NEWS!!! It means there’s a solution! God has made a way for us to live prosperous emotionally! We should be dancing in the streets!

If you have been living under the weight of overwhelming and painful emotions, I want to encourage you to try again. This time, invite God into the process. Ask Him to give you understanding. Ask Him to give you the tools you need in order to prosper emotionally. He delights to partner with His children. It pleases Him to help us! He is compassionate regarding our pain. He hurts with our hurts.

May you walk in the victory that is already yours,

Arlene

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