July 22, 2010
I Don't Feel Like It!
Proverbs 25:28 (NIV) "Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control."
Friend To Friend
You have probably discovered that you simply cannot trust your emotions because they are unreliable, misleading and will constantly betray you. A family member verbally blasts you and rage consumes your spirit. Your career is in decline and depression slithers into your heart. Caught in the comparison trap, you find yourself avoiding those who have bigger, more influential jobs. Anger is a constant companion, finances are tight and rest is a distant memory. A sense of bone-deep weariness saturates your soul as your own heart ridicules the sincerity with which you serve. "You might as well give up. It's no use. Just quit!" the enemy taunts.
Negative emotions can take hold of and destroy a life void of emotional control. Control puts emotions in their God-shaped place, discarding negative emotions as the spiritual leeches they are while safeguarding and reinforcing positive emotions. I am amazed at the number of women who base eternal decisions on feelings while seeking confirmation and even direction from emotional responses. I almost missed one of the highest plans for my life because it didn't feel right.
My husband, Dan, was Youth Pastor at Sheridan Hills Baptist, a dynamic church in Hollywood, Florida where Bill Billingsley, one of the greatest men I have ever known, was senior pastor. He and his amazing wife, Betty Jean, had an enormous impact on me personally, and the ministry of speaking and writing to which God has now called me. It was in the midst of my God ordained transformation at Sheridan Hills and the youth program's greatest growth that Dan dropped the bomb - he felt God calling him back to Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Well, I felt God calling him to stay put!
I loved Sheridan Hills! It was home! Going back to seminary meant I would have to go back to teaching elementary school fulltime. Teaching wasn't the problem but placing our young son, Jered, in daycare. We had waited so long for this chosen baby, and the thought of relegating his care to strangers broke my heart. How could this possibly be God's plan when it felt so wrong?
My favorite worship time at Sheridan Hills was the Wednesday night service - for two reasons. I enjoyed the contemporary worship and in-depth bible teaching. I also treasured the fact that, each week, while Dan was in meetings and Jered was in the nursery, I could slip into the empty, darkened auditorium for an hour of solitude.
However, the Wednesday night after Dan shared the numbing probability of our return to seminary, my usually refreshing solitude dissolved into a tantrum of crying, praying and pleading with God to let us stay at Sheridan Hills.
When a hand gently patted my shoulder, I looked up into the tear-filled eyes of my pastor. "I have something to tell you," he said. Pastor Billingsley was not only a spiritual mentor in my life, but a loving father figure as well. Expecting a word of wisdom or encouragement, I was shattered by his words, "I have cancer." Speechless, we sat in pain-filled silence, weeping; each flailing in our own sea of emotions and questions. Bill Billingsley then spoke the words that have guided my steps from the moment he gave them life. "Mary, just remember that God's will penalizes no one."
I immediately knew I had a choice to make. I could mulishly hold on to my emotional comfort or submit to God's will. My choice to obey God plotted the course for an incredible journey filled with purpose, a life of sharing God's hope and healing with women across the world through speaking and writing. Had my emotions ruled, I would have missed God's best for my life.
Emotions are a gift from God. While emotions themselves are not sin, the place we give them can be. Since God created us with the capacity for strong emotions, we can rest assured that He will equip and empower His plan for managing them.
Father, I come to You, honestly and sincerely asking You to be in control of my emotions. I live too many days dictated by how I "feel." I am so sorry, Lord. Forgive me for not allowing the Holy Spirit to have free reign in my heart and mind. Please help me live a life marked with peace and with hope.
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Take an emotional inventory. What negative emotion has become a hindrance in your life? Why?
Think about the way you begin each day. Are you afraid of what the day holds? Do you dread facing whatever comes your way? Or do you focus on God and His promises?
Read and memorize the following promises of God:
- Philippians 4:6-7 (ICB) "Do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks. And God's peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace that God gives is so great that we cannot understand it."
- Colossians 3:2 (NIV) "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."
- Proverbs 29:11 (NKJ) "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back."
More From The Girlfriends
When emotions are out of control, the result is stress. Stress is one of the enemy's favorite weapons. Stress has caused physical pain, emotional darkness and spiritual bankruptcy in my life. I constantly have to bring my heart and mind back to God. I know how hard it is to stay balanced and at peace. Know you are not alone, friend. We are with you and praying for you.
Need help? Check out Mary's book, Escaping the Stress Trap to discover nine steps you can take to manage stress … instead of allowing it to manage you.
Are you seeking God? Join other women across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. When you enroll, you also have access to all of the 2010 studies. Check it out!
Need hope? Check out Mary's book, Hope in the Midst of Depression for ways to climb out of that pit you are in. Learn how you can help someone you love who is dealing with the darkness.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Thursday, 22 July 2010.