We Were Created to Experience Emotions

We Were Created to Experience Emotions

In the past couple of years, I have spent a fair amount of time reading books like Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ by Daniel Goleman and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, along with a lot of medical abstracts, journal articles on the neurology and physiology of emotions, and studies about the chemical changes in the body connected with emotions. I am far from an expert, but I have begun to see a pattern emerging.

Though pretty much every published book or article out there right now has been written from an evolutionary perspective, the scientists and authors have discovered our bodies are wired for emotions. If we look at what they are discovering through their research through a biblical lens – from a creationist perspective – we see that God created us with this intricate system that connects the information take in through our various senses with chemicals (a.k.a. hormones) to our bodies. The physiological reaction to these hormones prepares our bodies to move. {Hence the name: emotion, which comes to us from Latin “to move.”}

At the end of the biblical creation account, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).

It’s not a far leap in logic to realize if he created man in his own image, if he created man to experience emotions – which we are now discovering through modern technology – and if he saw everything he made and considered it very good, then emotions, as part of his creation and as part of his creation of man in his own image, are very good. Do you get that?

Emotions are very good.

Emotions are very good.

Somehow we’ve lost the idea of emotions being very good, and I think Satan is pretty happy (yes, that’s an emotion, too) about it.

Bottom line? We were created to experience emotions.

When we deny it, we lose.

Every time we take something God made and call it into question we lose.

Adam and Eve lost in the garden when they called into question the covenant God made regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Husbands lose when they call into question the authority God gave them to lead sacrificially, preferring and protecting their wife and children above themselves.

Wives lose when we call into question the order (not value) God gave in setting the husband as the head of the family.

Children lose when we take the honor God made for our parents and give it to ourselves (rebelling against authority) or others (caring for or accepting direction from others at the expense of caring for and honoring our parents).

Families lose when we call into question the emotions we were given to move us to righteousness by abusing one another with uncontrolled emotions, giving unbridled vent to rage, angst, fear, grief, or euphoria, pleasure, and passion.

Households lose when we call into question the emotions we were given to move us to community by forbidding emotions, which leads to an environment of emotional abandonment, withdrawal, shame, cheerlessness, lust, and emptiness.

As individuals we lose a little bit of what it means to be human when we strip the healthy experience of emotions from our lives.

Society loses a great deal of what it means to be a community and government loses a great deal of what it means to protect and defend life, when individuals become less human. Just look at the political sphere to find evidence of this!

The loss of empathy is a nail in the coffin of justice and mercy.

Loss of Empathy Kills Justice & Mercy

We have abandoned the Creator’s design with respect to emotions. As a result, the relationships for which we were created suffer; the worship we were created to give is hollow and empty. Without a healthy emotional life, we are less than what we were created to be – and now we have science to back up that fact.

The solution is not to suppress emotion and withdraw from others. The solution is to accept our emotions and to train them to move us into healthy relationships.

We don’t have to lose. Following God’s design and instruction always sets us up to win.

So where do you need to repent? Do you give free reign to your emotions, allowing unbridled fear, anger, or passion to trample the people around you? Do you suppress emotions through withdrawal, abandonment, and shame based upon how they (or you!) feel?

Take time today to think through one are where you are abusing emotions and stripping the image of God from yourself or others. Pray for wisdom about how to live out the image of God in a way that magnifies God’s glory rather than man’s sin. Then comment below or send me an email so I can pray for you as you grow in Christlikeness. I will pray for every single comment/email I receive.

Emotions are Not the Enemy

Emotions are Not the Enemy

I don’t know about you, but I know I often find myself fighting my emotions. Don’t get me wrong. I do think we need to control ourselves where emotion is concerned, but there is a difference between fighting to control emotion and fighting emotion itself. The first is an attempt to drive emotions on a constructive course. The second is an attempt to deny an essential component of being human – being made in the image of God. Denying emotions usually leads to destructive choices, resulting in damaged health and/or relationships.

Part of the problem is we have bought into a lie: emotions are bad, especially negative emotions (I wrote about that a bit last week). The truth is, emotions are not really the enemy.

Our sin is the enemy, always has been, always will be.

It is the sinful choices we make without evaluating our emotions and reigning them in with truth that are the enemy. Emotions should drive us – we are physiologically wired for emotions. Problems arise when we let our emotions drive our lives without directing them to the course we want to take.

Can you imagine what would happen if you tethered yourself to a dogsled in the wilderness of Alaska, but didn’t train the dogs who would pull it? The results would be disastrous.

People who race in the Iditarod need the dogs to drive the sled, but they don’t let them run wild with the sled careening along behind them. If you want to use a dogsled, you need dogs. You need strong dogs that are capable of withstanding extreme conditions. You need well-trained dogs if you are going to not only survive the arctic environment, but also arrive at the destination you choose. The point is, if you want to race in the Iditarod you want dogs. You want the dogs to be dogs. You just want dogs to be dogs that will stay on the course, follow your lead, and take you where you want to go.

If you want to live life well (and abundantly) you need emotions. You need strong emotions that are capable of withstanding extreme conditions. You need well-trained emotions if you are going to not only survive life in a broken, fallen world, but also arrive in the kind of relationships and circumstances you desire. If you want to win the race set before you (1 Corinthians 9:24, Philippians 3:14; Hebrews 12:1-2), you need emotions to be emotions, driving forces that move you to action. You just need emotions to be emotions which don’t take the sled off course. You need emotions trained to respond to the reins of truth and righteousness. You need emotions which move you where you want to go.

Emotions must be trained

 

Emotions are not the enemy.

Emotions are a great and untapped power capable of driving us toward righteousness and mercy or toward complete destruction of ourselves and others in our path. Our call is not to capture our emotions and stuff them into a dungeon, not is it to unleash them on others. Scripture talks about taking our thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), but it does not give a parallel instruction about taking (or making) emotional captives. Emotion is to be trained by truth.

Our calling is to take the raw strength of our emotions and train them to drive us to worship God in everything we do (Colossians 3:17, 23; Ephesians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31). Our calling is to evaluate our emotions through the lens of scripture. Our calling is to encourage a rich emotional life that moves us to righteousness. Think horse whisperer instead of  POW camp commander.

The Danger of Unraveling Emotions

The Danger of Unraveling Emotions

Sometimes I wonder when emotions became the arch-enemy of strength. It’s an insult, isn’t it, for someone to declare, “She’s so emotional!”? Yet emotions are a significant part of what makes us uniquely human. And in typical fickle fashion, we are equally quick to insult folks who are completely emotionally unaware.

I recently ran across a Dilbert video poking fun at the stereotypical engineer, which highlights (with humor) the almost universal acceptance of the need for social skills. It’ll take less than two minutes to watch, and is worth the chuckle – especially if you know an engineer.

This causes us to laugh because it touches on the truth that unawareness of emotions leads to undeveloped social skills – something we’ve linked to pocket protectors and a calculator.

For the last quarter century the idea of Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been studied, pondered, debated, and lauded. Ideas originally received with skepticism have been supported by sound research. Emotional Intelligence became an accepted, and much talked about, component of an individual’s resume and portfolio during the job search. Businesses began including EI as part of their hiring strategy, realizing an emotionally competent individual was a better investment than a similar candidate with high technical intelligence and low social skills.

Yet with all the recognition of emotions and the importance of understanding, appreciating, and learning to live with them, emotions still get a bad rap. People who express their emotions are often dismissed as irrational and (over)sensitive. And while Emotional Intelligence became an important focus in Human Resources during the hiring phase, throughout the rest of the company, emotions remained a bit inconvenient. Emotional Intelligence seems to be fighting an uphill battle – one step forward, two steps back – because at some point in history, we redefined “strong men” as men without emotion other than anger (consider phrases like “real men don’t cry” and “never let them see you sweat”).

Somewhere along the way we forgot that men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Walter Cronkite, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were not only strong and amazing leaders, but also experienced – and expressed – deep emotion. Indeed, their actions were often a direct result of their emotions, but not necessarily the result of unchecked emotions like we saw with leaders like Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini.

Stripping men (and by default women, since to be “emotional” was redefined as weakness) of their ability to understand, confront, and connect their emotions to right actions, has actually weakened humanity. One of the fibers woven into the essence of humanity is our ability to be moved into appropriate action by what we feel. (Incidentally, the word “emotion” comes from the Latin ēmovēre, to move (ex = out, movere = move, literally move out). When we divest people (men or women) of the essential fiber of emotions, it is like removing a strand from a cord; the whole person becomes weaker.

Emotional Intelligence research brought this to our attention, but did little to weave a healthy understanding of and relationship to emotions. Though we have begun to value people who are emotionally stable and to denounce those who we now consider toxic (because they either intentionally manipulate others or destroy others through ignorance), we have yet to embrace emotions and weave them back into our understanding of how to be fully human and live life well. We are ill equipped to manage our emotions and direct them onto a constructive course.

So what do we do?

Perhaps the first step is to realize that emotions are not the enemy. We need to learn how emotions are tied to our physiological make up – in other words, we were created to be emotional (not in a hysterical, irrational way, but to fully experience emotions). We must look at how Christ – fully God and fully man – experienced a wide range of emotions, and yet did not sin (Christ was not afraid of his emotions). And finally, we need to identify when our emotions are revealing idolatry vs. righteousness, so we can make choices empowered by emotions but directed in a constructive way toward what we hope to accomplish rather than make choices driven by unchecked emotion.

Starting next week, I’ll dig into each of these ideas in greater depth. Here’s the plan:

May 2 – Emotions are Not the Enemy

May 9 – We Were Created to Experience Emotions

May 16 – Forever Starts Now

May 23 – Emotions are Scary

May 30 – Emotions Expose Idols

June 6 – We Do What We Believe

June 13 – The Truth Will Set You Free

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I owe Ken Sande of Relational Wisdom 360 (www.rw360.org) a great debt for the many insights he has given to me on this topic through his seminars, training, and personal conversations. – See more at: http://rw360.org/

God Wrote the Book on Relationships

God Wrote the Book on Relationships

As Christians, we know God has created us for relationships.

We know God has blessed us for relationships.

We know God has commanded us to do relationships in LOVE.

So how do we do this?

How do we learn to submit our relationships to the rule of Christ? How do we functionally, intentionally apply biblical wisdom in the arena of marriage, friendships, sharing the gospel, coworkers, children, enemies?

God wrote the book on relationships. There is a biblical framework. I have a friend who has worked hard to make that framework visible and applicable to daily life, sort of a systematic theology of relationships with real-life application. It’s way better than CliffsNotes. 🙂

Let me tell you a little bit about Ken.

He is one of the most gracious men I’ve ever met. I’m not saying he’s perfect (nor would he), but I see grace ooze from the crevices of his life. Like all of us on this side of heaven, he still has places in his heart that are not yet steeped in grace, but he’s grown in grace throughout his Christian walk and he’s spent a lot of time distilling in writing what it means to live in redemptive relationships God and with others.

Mike and I were first introduced to Ken Sande (known to most as the author of The Peacemaker and founder of Peacemaker’s Ministries) in Montana a few years ago. We spent four days in Montana as part of the process of becoming Certified Relational Wisdom Instructors (RW360.org), and connected with Ken and his wife immediately.

Getting to know Ken has been one of the highlights of joining him in this life-changing ministry. Truly, RW360 has changed my life. Not because it’s some new method to personal happiness or quick-fix for troubled relationships, but because it draws so effectively from the whole counsel of scripture and gives practical skills to usher me deeper into God’s grace.

Relational wisdom isn’t about fixing troubled relationships, it’s about fixing grace firmly in all relationships.

Relational wisdom resonates with what I already know to be true, but have sometimes had a difficult time articulating and applying in my daily life. It’s something I’ve already been growing in as God has drawn me through his word in personal study and developing seminars and retreats for women.

As a matter of fact, I have a whole women’s retreat on relationships that I started doing with women’s groups in the years before I met Ken Sande or learned anything about his ministry with RW360, but it touches on the exact same themes. Truly, “[t[here is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

I encourage you to discover RW360 for yourself. I also encourage you to dig into the scriptures, like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), and see if what you discover isn’t true.

You’ll also see a lot on JuliaQuillen.com over the next several months that reveals many of the ways relational wisdom is impacting my ability to extend grace in my day to day existence as a wife, pastor’s wife, mom, ministry partner, sister, friend, daughter, teacher, author, speaker, laundress, grocery shopper, restaurant visitor…

Relational wisdom is all about extending grace: to ourselves, to those in our homes, and to those beyond the front porch.

If you’d like to go deeper, please, consider finding (or hosting) a live seminar or watching the online seminar or working through the self-study guide. You can find information on organizing a seminar with any of the Certified Instructors (including me!), if you think RW is something your women’s group or church would be interested in hosting.

What do you think? Is it time to invest in truly redemptive relationships?

Are You Half-Baked?

I heard a story recently about a professor who was teaching his class how to survive under pressure.  He held up a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”  He went on to demonstrate that it doesn’t really matter how heavy the glass of water is, but how long you have to hold it.

If you have to hold it for an hour it will become wearisome.  If you have to hold it for a day, it becomes bothersome.  But if you have to hold it with your arm extended, it becomes downright painful – even a dixie cup with a few drops of water is too heavy to bear under those circumstances.  You will simply have to put it down.

But what if your calling is to hold that dixie cup?  What then?  Do you just put it down to relieve the ache?

In Exodus we see this exact thing played out:

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.  So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”  So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.  And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Exodus 17:8-13

Without friends coming alongside of Moses and literally holding up his arms, he would not have been able to do what God called him to do.  We’re talking about MOSES here.  Red-Sea-parting-plagues-in-Egypt Moses.

I’m thinking: if he needed the help of human friends, why do I think I won’t?  And why do I think my contribution into the lives of others is insignificant?

Honestly, we don’t hear a lot else about Hur in the Bible, but in Exodus 17 we see him faithfully accepting the job of holding up some old guy’s arm for the day.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but what if he didn’t do it because it seemed silly to think Moses would need help?  What if he didn’t think he was important enough to come alongside Moses. Or that he was too important to support someone’s arm?

Accept the Help God SendsWhat about you?  Where are you standing today?

Are there people facing battles around you?  Is there anyone who needs your help to find victory?

Or do you need to accept the help offered by the people God has placed in your life? Is there someone offering to help you hold your dixie cup, and you are too insulted or embarrassed to accept their help?

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I wrote the other day about how disastrous it would be to try to make bread without any tools.  In the same way, our relationships are vital to our ability to do what we are called to do.  Your friendships were given to you by God to help you do what he asks of you.  Somebody is your mixing bowl.  And you are somebody’s oven.  In other words, without friends, you are half baked. 🙂

Maybe I Don’t Like You

I had a conversation with that person the other day.  The person who fills the air with uninteresting data and simultaneously changes everything I try to talk about into something about themselves and manages to insult me in a host of ways with the constant stream of verbiage.

No, I was not talking to myself, but I think I may be that person sometimes.

And here I am, the Pastor’s Wife, supposed to love everybody.  And I do.  But I don’t actually like everybody.

There’s this line by Lucy Maude Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables.  Aunt Josephine says, 

I like people who make me like them. Saves me so much trouble forcing myself to like them.

I live in that place, sometimes.  I simply don’t like everyone.

Do you?

The thing is, even that person is made in the image of God.

Even That Person Is Made in God's Image

And when I pause to think about that person as the image-bearer of God, it changes my perspective – just a little.

If I look for how that person reflects the character of God, I can find something to value, to appreciate, to enjoy.

I don’t do this because I am the Pastor’s Wife.  I do this because it is my calling in Christ.

C. S. Lewis said:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruptions such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal.

… it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.  This does not mean we are to be perpetually be solemn.  We must play.  But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

Recognizing the image of God present in every person – and understanding they will exist eternally in one of only two places – gives me the heart to be gracious in my conversations, to overlook offenses (really overlook, not just stuff it down until I explode), and to approach others with a desire for reconciliation rather than restitution when hurt happens.

Bob Marley, a reggae musician, accurately states,

The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you.  You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.

And Christ, by coming to earth to save the unlovely, defines “the ones worth suffering for” as all people – broken people – who are made in the image of God.

He loves that person, even when it’s me.

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