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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