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

It’s Time For The Broken Heart Of The Bride Of Christ To Be Healed

If I were to give you a word picture of what I am hearing the LORD say He wants to do in this season, this would be it. Jesus, our bridegroom sees the deep pain in the hearts of His bride. He sees the depression, the loneliness, the feelings of rejection that have chased her down for far too long. He wants to restore a sense of well-being to His Church. It’s time for emotional healing. He is offering healing to His Church. So how do we receive this healing?

The first step is to stop running. If there are things other than God that we’ve been turning to when in pain, we need to stop. It may not have even been anything sinful in itself.

Things we run to for refuge instead of God feel like they help us cope momentarily, but they will not bring lasting healing. It’s time to step into God’s presence when we’re hurting. We can use the emotional pain as a type of catalyst, ushering us into intimate time with Him. Psalm 62 says,

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken…Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Our soul includes our mind and our emotions. As we put our hope in God, we will find our emotions and our mind able to return to a place of rest. This looks like a cessation of warfare and turmoil. It’s in this place that we’re able to experience the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, etc. Psalm 34 says,

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

The next step to receiving healing for our heart is to talk to God about the pain. This takes honestly admitting what we’re feeling. Even if what we’re feeling isn’t pretty, intimacy requires talking about what’s in our hearts. Often, our gut instinct is to vent to people, but God alone needs to be the foundation for emotional healing. He may use others to speak into our lives, but first, let’s bring God into the equation. When we ask Him to orchestrate our healing, He will! He will guide us and help us.

I remember one time when I recognized that my heart needed healing. I seemed to be at an impasse. I knew my heart needed healing, but I didn’t know how to get there. I began to pray that God would orchestrate it. He answered that prayer. He brought someone alongside me to speak into my life. Someone that God knew was equipped to minister to me. God alone knew who that someone needed to be. He is more than willing to provide WHATEVER is needed for the healing of our hearts.

The 3rd step we need to take is to agree with God’s word, not our feelings. This past week, rejection came knocking at my door. The temptation to agree with its lies felt relentless. I knew in my head that the Bible says believers are accepted. I kept quoting Romans 15:7:

Wherefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God the Father.”

The majority of spiritual warfare is won by agreeing with God’s word even when our thoughts and our feelings tell us something different.

When we’re in the midst of spiritual warfare, sometimes lies look like truth. We may know the truth in our heads, but our hearts can’t “see” the truth. This is what I was going through this past week. My feelings were not in alignment with God’s word. I had to fight for the truth. James 4:7 says,

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that this whole submitting and resisting things is supposed to happen quickly. Sometimes it does. Sometimes overcoming takes longer. When this happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing anything wrong. It just means that we need to outlast the enemy. Ephesians 6 says,

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Spiritual warfare is like a wrestling match. The one who exerts the most pressure for the longest time wins.

We have been given authority over all the power of the enemy. We do not need to yield to a defeated foe. The mistake a lot of people make is believing the lie that if victory doesn’t come quickly, we don’t actually have authority over the enemy. Every time we resist the enemy, we’re getting stronger. Just like an athlete doing reps in the weight room, we’re building muscle. Every time we resist the lie that we have to live with depression, rejection, loneliness or brokenheartedness, we get stronger. The key is that we don’t give up.

You are loved by God. He sees the pain in your hearts. He has compassion for you and He has healing in store for you. I want to leave you with a song that speaks of the love of God. He is our faithful bridegroom. His intention is for the healing of your heart.

I hope this song about the healing love of our Bridegroom will minister to you as much as it did to me,

Arlene

Finding Joy In The Midst Of Sheltering In Place

There’s a boatload of emotions that I’m hearing people express. Physical symptoms aren’t the only thing covid 19 has brought with it. People are struggling with feelings of loneliness, despair, frustration and depression. Believers and unbelievers alike are wrestling with a lot of painful emotions. How do we process this in light of the cross? Aren’t the fruits of the Spirit love, joy, peace, etc.? Isn’t God the Restorer of our souls? Then why are we still in pain?

For decades, I felt like a victim of painful emotions. Depression, anxiety, despair and loneliness. I had tried so many times to fight back, but every time, I found myself knocked back down, with my face in the dust. Finally, I decided it was easier to not hope than to have my hopes dashed again. So I decided to just stay in the dust. The enemy walked over my back, and I decided to let him. I stayed there until I could no longer compartmentalize the despair. It began to leak out everywhere. I longed for death so the nightmare would end. Heaven seemed to me the only solution to end the pain.

Things began to change when our daughter and her husband asked their small group to pray that God would heal me of depression. Hope came back into my heart. Hope that I could break free of depression on this side of eternity. Once again, I stood up and began to fight back. This time was different through. I didn’t look to human reasoning to protect me from painful emotions. I began to recognize that this was a spiritual problem. And spiritual problems need spiritual solutions. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says,

“We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.”

What are these weapons? We have a number of them…the name of Jesus, our testimony, etc. But the weapon that I picked up to fight painful emotions was the word of God. Ephesians chapter 6 teaches us about the armor of God. Beloved, we have got to get dressed for warfare. Verse 17 tells us tells us to:

“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The word of God is a power weapon of choice when we need to resist depression, loneliness, despair, and feelings of emotional desolation. When we speak the truth from God’s word, we come into agreement with truth BEFORE we feel it. The feelings will follow IF we persist UNTIL feelings that disagree with God’s word dissipate.

If you are weighed down with depression, anxiety, despair and loneliness, you are under a spiritual attack.

God has made a way for us to experience the fruits of the Spirit. We are still going to encounter heaviness, fear, rejection, loneliness, etc. These things still exist in the world. But...we do not have to let these feelings abide in our hearts. Nehemiah 8:10 says,

” Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”

Why did Nehemiah tell the people this? It was because it didn’t come natural to the people of his day any more than it comes natural to us. We need to reach out and take hold of that which God has made a way for.

So, what is the first step? How do we do this in practical terms? My first step in resisting depression was to find my sword. I sought out some Bible verses that I could use whenever depression would begin to settle on me. I’d pull out my index cards where I’d written my verses. I’d read them, ponder their meaning and speak them out loud. When I did, the depression would leave. It might come back 5 times that day, but every time I’d pull out my verses and use them. Over time, those negative emotions began to come less and less. I always knew when I’d overcome the spiritual attack when my emotions came back to the place of well-being. It was in this place where I experienced the fruits of the Spirit. I experienced joy, contentment, peace.

If you’re looking for your “sword,” I’ve included a few that were helpful for me. May you never give up hope. May the joy of the LORD be your strength today. May you KNOW that you will never walk alone, for our Emmanuel will NEVER leave you or forsake you.

Arlene

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in His holy habitation. 6God settles the lonely in families; He leads the prisoners out to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a sun-scorched land.” Psalm 68:5-6       

“I will be glad and rejoice in your unfailing love, for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul” Psalm 31:7               (The Hebrew word for soul is “nephesh.” Our soul includes our whole self, our emotions, passions, desires and appetites.)

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made…The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down…You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:8-9,14,16

“The Spirit of the LORD God is on me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace…” Galatians 5:22a

“He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

“God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us…” 2 Cor. 7:6

“…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

What is the spirit of heaviness?

Man comforting his sad mourning friend

“…he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…to comfort all that mourn; To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”  Isaiah 61:1b-3 Continue reading

How To Pull Out Of A Bout Of Depression, Part 2

Young woman showing red ripped paper heart. Broken hearted on Valentines day concept.One of the most effective ways we overcome depression is to recognize when our hearts have become divided. Have you ever noticed that a divided heart and a broken heart look a lot alike? There’s a reason for that.  Divided hearts come about when there’s been a tearing. A dividing of that which used to be whole. United.  Stable.  Pain seeps in where our hearts are torn. No kidding, right? Continue reading

How To Pull Out Of A Bout Of Depression, Part 1

images (26)As the holidays approach, depression can be even more painful than normal. It’s a time of year when we feel more pressure than normal to be happy. And when we’re already feeling depressed, the holidays can feel like something to endure rather than enjoy. So how can we get back to a sense of emotional well-being and enjoy the holidays? Continue reading

What Jesus Taught Us About Dealing With Emotional Pain

images (9)Have you ever been in emotional anguish? I sure have…and I stayed there far too long. I just didn’t know how to leave that place. The depression and anxiety felt like too much to bear at times. I tried talking to friends. To counselors. To doctors. But their kindness and compassion wasn’t enough to pull me out of that pit. Continue reading

Overcoming Depression Through Restoring Trust

reuse23Have you ever wondered why you were doing pretty good emotionally, and then another bout of depression hit you like a tidal wave? I want to share a troubleshooting tip that I learned during the years that I spent recovering from depression:

Identify any areas where you may have felt or had the perception that God betrayed your trust.  When troubleshooting reasons for a bout of depression, this is a very common reason. Continue reading