I have a confession: I am not someone with a naturally amazing amount of faith. I tend to react emotionally at first, and while I have finally accepted that as a good thing (see: David, Peter, etc.), it doesn’t always help me to be your classic unshakeable, sleep-in-the-storm person. Don’t get me wrong; I am grateful to be a “feeler.” The upside of feeling things deeply is that I can truly value and celebrate the beautiful parts of life. If you’re looking for someone to get excited with you and celebrate victories, you’ve come to the right place. I have a giant box of party supplies I keep in my house… just in case. The downside of being more emotional is that, if I’m not extremely careful, I can tend to wallow in the less-wonderful moments. Often, hard times feel like the end of the world for me. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Over the course of approximately 36,000 freak-outs, I have learned a basic model of what to do when I feel overwhelmed. To help explain, I’ll share a painful moment in my own life.
Last week, a mentor that I really trust made a decision that I really disagreed with. She’s a role model in my life, and it was the first time I’d really felt undermined or hurt by something that she did. It looked like the call she’d made would be a lot of work for me, disrupt the lives of people I cared about, and crash a project I’d been working on for 6 months. My gut reaction was a mixture of confusion and betrayal, and I got dangerously close to saying some things that I shouldn’t have. Luckily, the meeting ended around the same time as my composure, so I made it to my car before exploding. (I try to remember that I can never un-say something). As I sat in my car teary-eyed, I recalled this process that I’d learned over time.
Step 1: Invite and Await
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5
The first thing that I do, simple as it may sound, is breathe. I try to reach a point where I am at least somewhat quiet and still. For me, there is very little point in trying to move forward when I am running around in circles of my hurt. Centering myself and waiting quietly for a moment gives God a chance to speak. Even though my natural instinct is to try to handle things on my own, I absolutely have to invite God into my uncomfortable situations. If He isn’t involved, the situation can’t be solved. Invite God into your conflict. He’s the ultimate Peacemaker. I sat in my car and took a few deep breaths that day, remembering that there was more to life than my hurt in that moment. I paused to recall that God could use even someone else’s tough decision for my good.
Step 2: Assess
Once I have settled my heart a bit, I try to assess how I am feeling. In my car last week, I began to ask myself why I was reacting so strongly. I came to the conclusion that my reaction was 70% trying to protect people I lead (which is not a bad motivation), and 30% fear. I slowly realized that most of my emotional reaction happened because I had no trust and wanted to be consulted in the decision. I was reacting out of panic and control issues, instead of faith that God works all things for the good of those who love Him.
We absolutely have to take the time to assess not only how we feel, but what we are believing that causes us to feel that way. Many of our negative emotions are based out of negative, false beliefs that have taken root in our hearts. When we stop mid-crisis to examine our hearts and minds, we can identify lies we are listening to and focus on truth. When we deal with these untrue beliefs, we are able to get back on our feet and walk in faith again. If something makes you feel hopeless, afraid, or condemned, that thought is not of God! Rise up, recognize it, and remember that you are loved.
- Do you believe that, when submitted to the truth, your emotions are a blessing, or do you feel guilty for having them?
- Do you notice trends about how your emotions get away from you? Is there a situation or emotional trigger that always gets you?
- How can you apply these first two steps to a situation in your life? Do you already do these, or if not, how could you?
Don’t forget to subscribe in the box (below for phones, on the sidebar for laptops)! Part 2 coming Thursday.