Learning to Walk through the Storms of Our Emotions

storm

Emotions scare me. Perhaps one reason is that I grew up in a home riddled with bipolar disorder and unforgiveness and regret. There was always so much emotion and no safe way to process it. As a kid, I withdrew. I read books and escaped to places where complicated situations unraveled nicely by the end of the story. The tumultuous years of teenage-hood tested me, and I found I was less equipped to deal with the emotions within me than I had been equipped as a child to deal with the emotions around me.  It’s harder to hide from yourself, so I learned to reason my way through things. If I found them unreasonable, I shut down the emotion.

There have been benefits to this.  I was rarely carried away by emotions to do things I might regret. As a young person in college, this protected me from a lot of stupid decisions that I saw my peers making around me.  There was one emotion that I could not control though. My life was permeated through and through with fear.

Fear that I would mess up. You see, the downfall to being in control is fearing your ability to lose control, to fail.  This was who I was in college: young (I went at 16 years old), controlled, but afraid. And then Jesus happened.

The Power of the Gospel on My Emotions

While I controlled my emotions for the most part, they still whispered to me.  They told me that happiness was around the corner. If I was independent, out of the crazy home, then I could finally stop being afraid.  Away from home, though, I found I was more fearful. Everything depended on me doing things right. I was doing well in school, but I realized I didn’t even know who I was.

One night, a friend gave me a Christian book about a man’s experience with God.  It was powerful, it was personal, and it was emotional. His story spoke to my deepest fear of being alone, of having to depend completely on myself and how dreadfully afraid of failing I was.  That night, all by myself, I got on my knees and prayed that He would speak to me.

“Everything depended on me doing things right.  I was doing well in school, but I realized I didn’t even know who I was.”

My life was totally different the next day.  I’d love to say the difference was God–I’m sure some of it was, but a large part was me still being in control.  Instead of trying to please people though, I was on a mission to please God.

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Releasing Hope

Release means unclenching my grasping hands. It means letting go into another’s care what I hold. Release is scary because I cannot know for sure what will happen when I let go. Will what I held fall to the ground and break? If I let it go, will I ever get it back?

I’m reminded of Abraham clinging so tightly to his son; his hope of God’s blessing tightly interwoven into the life of this boy. How hard it must have been to release him into God’s hands! And yet he did and he now stands as a monument of the faith that saves. He believed and he trusted God, not only in word, but in beautiful, painful, releasing action. He too did not know what would happen when he let go, but he knew to whom he was releasing his greatest hope. It is this moment that defines his faith so exquisitely– the moment he gave God everything, trusting that somehow God would bring it back.

As we release things in our life, we too should have that same boomerang hope. We can release knowing God will bring it back in His own way and in His own time. This faith is the faith that defines our lives.

*Written as a response to the Five Minute Friday prompt

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Routine Both Scares Me and Secures Me

Routine both scares me and secures me.

It scares me because routine has a habit of numbing the mind. When we go through our usual tasks, our minds disengage. We aren’t as connected and time passes quickly. All of a sudden, you come to and realize you haven’t been paying attention for several minutes. Routine makes life go by too quickly. Routine closes my eyes and deadens my senses.

But routine also does the silent work of putting down deep roots when I’m not looking. The routine of daily life, of work and play and preparation and cleaning up, lays a foundation of security that brings rest to my soul. And, though I might not observe how this everyday stuff accomplishes this, all I need is a break and a return from this routine to understand how routine makes me feel at home.

So routine keeps me slightly uncomfortable—scaring me with the brevity of my time here but giving me glimpses of what it feels like to belong somewhere. This discomfort makes me look forward to a future where time is not something to be feared (in eternity will we even notice it?) and security will not be synonymous with same old. Instead, excitement and home will be intertwined into something new and ancient at the same time.

*Written as a response to the Five Minute Friday prompt

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The Character of Love

In our time of overwhelming media input, it’s easy to get confused about love. C.S. Lewis bemoaned the deficiencies of  the English language with it’s single word for love, whereas the Greek language offers four separate words! We are fortunately gifted with the life of Christ and the beautiful words of Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 13 to help us, but sometimes what we grow familiar with no longer impacts us as it should. This is where the God-ordained power of story steps in to give us a new perspective. For this reason I am very grateful for Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Set in post-revolutionary France, this story focuses on the tragic and beautiful life of Jean Valjean who fleshes out a picture of sacrificial and responsive love.

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Feeling as a Step to Seeking Forgiveness

Our country is reeling in the aftermath of several horrific events–some spanning back several years and some just a few days ago.  Regardless of the timeline, we all will to some extent struggle with what to do with the offenders. Should there be forgiveness or justice?  And, even more perplexing, what do we do when it is a believer who has sinned?

In an excellent article titled “Why repentant pastors should be forgiven but not restored to the pulpit”, Jonathan Freeman deftly summarizes this difficulty within the church when he states, “Christians struggle with this question because Christianity centers on the idea of forgiveness. Step one in becoming a Christian is acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.When the pastor is exposed, some push the message of forgiveness. “Who of us is without sin?” they might say, drawing from Jesus in John 8. Meanwhile, others object: “But how can we trust this guy?””

What does it mean to show forgiveness to those who have harmed us?  Freeman goes on to argue, as stated in his title, that pastors who have sinned and repented should be welcomed back into membership but not into a role of leadership.  There should still be consequences to their sin.

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