Emotions move us somewhere. We have to decide if we are going to let them run wild and take us on a treacherous journey or if we want to invest the time and effort to train our hearts and minds to direct emotions on a constructive course. We need to decide if we are going to believe what our feelings suggest or if we are going to evaluate how we feel in light of what we believe. And, ultimately, we need to expose our hearts to truth if we want to be set free from the tyranny of the emotions lurking there.
Only the truth will set you free.
Learning to evaluate our emotions in light of what we believe gives us the power to choose where our emotions will take us. We must learn to shine external truth on our internal turmoil.
When we bring truth to our swirling emotions, we realize we have choices. Having choices gives us hope. Having hope gives us strength. Having strength helps us to find our footing – and even if walking the path to which God has called us feels like we’re trying to run through a riptide, our feet are on the ground and we are no longer being pulled under and gasping for air, controlled by the tides of my every changing emotions.
Truly, the truth will set us free. The truth will set you free, too. Free from the tyranny of fear, control, and idolatry.
Sometimes we are tempted by fear.
For example, when my husband needs to travel and I am afraid of being a widow with seven children (yes, I always have at least one moment of fear that he’ll die while he’s gone), I can choose to believe he’s going to die. I can become consumed by my fear, ask him to stay home and not honor whatever commitment we’ve agreed he will keep.
I can choose to believe what I know is true: God is sovereign and I can trust him with his sovereignty even if it means he walks me down the road of widowhood.
Ultimately I have to choose whether I will find my security in the presence of God or in the presence of my husband. The truth is, I am only secure in the presence of God, even if I greatly enjoy the presence of my husband.
Once I see my emotions are directing me to cling to a moving object for security, I can choose to place my hope in Christ, in God my Father. I can choose to trust that he loves me, takes care of me, and only chooses what is best for my good and his glory, even when my husband and I are separated by distance and his life is apparently in the hands of others (other drivers, pilots, angry pedestrians…).
Truth reminds me his life (and mine) are in the hand of God, and nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:38, well really all of Romans 8:35-39) or snatch us from his hand (John 10:29). It is this truth that sets me free from fear.
Sometimes we are tempted by anger.
Alternatively, when my anger rises because a child has locked us out of the car, I can choose to berate my child, shame my child, and/or condemn my child for his/her folly as I angrily get the spare key from the magnet box (getting dirty, too, mind you!)
I can choose to get the key from the magnet box while I speak words of grace to my child knowing I have the extra key because I have locked us out of the car before. I can remember that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1), and I can hold out the beauty of grace to draw my kids into Christ and freedom from condemnation.
I can choose laughter.
I can choose mercy.
I can choose to show how Christ cleans the sin from our hearts the way I clean the magnet-box grime from my hands.
I can choose to teach my kids to be responsible with the keys and to have a back-up plan. I don’t have to let my emotions drive my child away, I can steer them carefully to draw him in.
I don’t always do this well.
Sometimes I believe the lie that I am condemnable. I forget I am not condemned. I don’t live like I believe I have been set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). I listen to the whisper that I must be perfect, and as a result I demand perfection from others as well.
But there is hope for people like you and me. We can learn to make godly choices when we learn to shine external truth on our internal turmoil.
What’s lurking in your heart?
What internal turmoil needs to be brought into the light of scripture? Are there emotions raging inside you are afraid to explore? Is there hidden shame (believing your value is tarnished by your sin)? Or guilt (honest recognition you’ve made poor choices, but you don’t want to admit it)? Are you justifying anger by looking at circumstances instead of your savior? Do you feel powerless to make different choices? Overwhelmed by the temptation to react in a familiar-yet-sinful way?
It may be time to pray, “Lord, help my unbelief!” It may be time to dig into what you are feeling so you can accurately assess and address pain, fear, and discouragement.
Your only hope is in the Truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Shining his truth into your hurt is the only way to freedom.
Do you want to be free?
I’d love to hear how God is working in your heart today. Please comment below and let me (& others) know how to pray for you!