Memory Verse: For the heart is exceedingly wicked and deceitful, who can know it Jeremiah 17:9
Challenge: Be intentional about defining emotions today and the root cause. When you feel anger, fear, anxiety, happy, love- then determine what the stimulating cause is and group those two together. (example: I was happy because I found $20 in the dryer this morning) Share a couple of them in your journal.
H-town (if you are actually from H-Town you will remember the group and possibly the song) a local RnB group, made a song entitled ‘Emotions make you cry sometimes’. The lyrics take you through the stages of life and how different scenarios cause different emotions, but the ultimate point is that ‘emotions make you fall in love’. Destiny’s Child comes out with a song a couple years later about emotions. There is also a Mariah Carey and Conya Doss song by the same title. So apparently, emotions are something that we need to discuss, since they are such an important determining part of relationships. Right?
Emotions as defined by Webster- ‘a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object (or person) and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body’. For example, fear may cause you to sweat and your heartbeat to increase, or anger may make you sweat or cause your head to ache. By this definition, emotions are a secondary response and never the initial cause. This is important to understand for today’s challenge.
Emotions aren’t and can’t be used as an initial cause, but so many times in this life we allow them to determine our actions and reactions. We never take the time to get to the root of the cause and deal with that to determine why we are feeling a certain emotion, we just take the emotion and run with it. I think this is a surface reason why God instructs and allows us to ‘Be angry, yet sin not’ Ephesians 4:26. God understands that we are fickle humans that are controlled by our emotions, instead of controlling them.
Understanding your emotions and determining the root cause of them is a key concept taught in psychology and being a Certified Counselor, it is something that I often will instruct my clients/students to tap into. ‘Ok, you are angry-but why? You are sad-when did you start feeling this way?’ If we can get to the answer of these questions we can determine what to do with those emotions as well as understand if they are even valid emotions. To determine if an emotion is valid, you take the root stimulating cause, and determine if the emotional feeling coincides as a logical response to the cause. But who has the time to do that?! It’s so much easier to allow our emotions to rule us and go with the first response that ‘feels right’ with the emotion.
H-Town said emotions make you cry sometimes, but I challenge to say-Emotions make you LIE sometimes. Have you ever found yourself starting to ‘feel something’ about a person after you have spent an extended amount of time with them? Or if you are like me, you have allowed someone else to plant the seed in your head of a ‘perfect bond’ between you and another person and then you find yourself thinking about this person more and ‘feeling something’ that you didn’t initially feel. This is typically a simulated emotion, and has no validity in its determining cause. If you would take the time to step back from the situation and truly evaluate it, you would realize that these ‘emotions’ aren’t real and you could move on.
INSIGHT: ‘This happened with my best friend and me. We have known each other more than 12 years, and never even contemplated dating, but with a few whispered, ill-placed comments from well-meaning mutual friends-our emotions made us question ‘why weren’t we together’. After a few awkward months and even more awkward heartfelt conversations, we came to the same conclusion that we had before, we were friends-that’s it. Don’t allow someone else to dictate what you ‘should’ be feeling about another person.’
What about the emotions of sadness, longing, and devastation that comes from a broken relationship, as we discussed earlier in this challenge? I believe that these emotions are valid, but you have to determine how long you will dwell on them. You need to learn from them and move on- or decide if you are going to allow them to control you and poison your current state and possibly your future relationships. The last serious relationship that tore my heart out, the emotions I felt at the time I truly believed were valid. However, the fact that I still feel some of them 2 years later, is not! If I were to research the root cause, it would be determined that I feel the sadness when I ‘happen’ to cross his facebook page, or I frequent a spot that was coined ‘our spot’ or I read an old letter or email that I just so happened to find (but never threw away). This is an example of emotions controlling us, and if we are to live free in this season, this can’t be the case.
Then we get to love. H-town says that emotions make you fall in love. I don’t believe this, or wait maybe I do. Falling is accidental and something that we can’t control once it starts. If we are led by our emotions, then this is a true statement. But I have determined to not ‘fall in love’ anymore. I have now taken control of my emotions and I realize that I can decide to love and when I do I will consciously leap into love. Someone asked me to describe what it felt like to be in love and all I could come up with were actions. My conclusion: love is not butterflies; it’s the choice of a commitment that drives you to perform actions that in turn induce those butterflies in the one who has captured your affections. As a result, this causes you to feel the same “flutterings” in response.
Love has to be decided and calculated. Read 1 Corinthians 13. There is NO WAY that we can express love in that way off of our fickle, ever changing emotions. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son’ that had to be a decision on God’s part. He didn’t on a whim, just say ‘JESUS, COME HERE! SO THIS IS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO TODAY!!’ Come on, now! If we continue to allow our emotions to control us, we have reduced ourselves to mere babies that hit people because they make us mad. Pre-teens that don’t speak to each other because they didn’t smile at us when getting on the bus. Teenagers that don’t like a person because our best friend of the week doesn’t like them. Give yourself more credit. You have to be more mature than that.
Mariah says something powerful- ‘I don’t know if you are real, but I like the way I feel inside’. IF this is all you are after ‘a feeling’, then by all means skip today’s (and tomorrow’s) challenge and join us again on the next. BUT if you are determined to take back control of your emotions and not allow someone or something to ‘make you feel’ anything that you haven’t decided to feel-then as Captain Planet says ‘THE POWER IS YOURS!’
INSIGHT: ‘Man, man, MAN!! If I could write in tongues, I probably would! Lol, but seriously. This is such a powerful and personal challenge. We make decision each and every day based on emotions, and not the root cause of those emotions. We join churches and LEAVE churches, based on how we ‘feel’, not on the will of God. We choose to worship or read our Bible based on whether we ‘feel’ like it that day or not. We choose to pursue relationships based on how that person makes us ‘feel’, instead of evaluating the relationship and deciding if this person will push us forward in the Kingdom or turn our hearts to worshiping false ‘gods’. We MUST get control of our emotions and stop allowing them to control us.’
Will you control your emotions or still allow them to control you today?