March 14, 2012
How to Avoid Bankruptcy
Proverbs 25:28 “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control” (NIV).
Friend To Friend
It is not enough to acknowledge the presence of negative emotions or even understand why they exist. We must take action. If we don’t, negative emotions will take control, a dangerous proposition for any woman. We must not only be able to manage negative emotions in our own lives, we must be able to react correctly to negative emotions produced by the sometimes abrasive behavior of those we call family and friend. The seeker watches carefully, curious to see what happens when the pressure is on.
So many women are imprisoned by feelings of inferiority and the results are always disastrous. Constructive criticism is perceived as an emotional attack. Jealousy burgeons as others receive the accolades we desperately crave. Decisions are made and a course of life is determined so that fragile egos are fed, excluding God’s plan and purpose. Comparison reigns as a false idol attempting to validate worth and success. Inferiority crosses over to pride and sin reigns.
On the other hand, we can put negative emotions to work in our lives. Every woman knows that emotions can be like runaway horses. You are trampled by a friend with a hidden agenda, kicked in the gut by a family member, thrown by the lies of a trusted co-worker or crushed by a lack of integrity and character in those in authority over you. Emotions can easily stampede out of control and into sin.
The success of emotional integrity lies in the one who holds the reins. We must constantly choose to surrender every emotion to the supernatural control of God because when we do, the Holy Spirit empowers that choice, produces control and transforms emotional bondage into emotional freedom. Learning to control anger is a crucial life lesson and one that we need to master.
The people around us want to see what happens when life pushes our buttons or squeezes our emotions. While God created us with the capacity for emotions, it is our responsibility to control them instead of allowing them to control us. When Jesus saw money-changers desecrating the temple of God, He was furious! Yet, He modeled the right way to harness emotions and use them for good. I have heard many Bible teachers and preachers attempt to soften the response of Jesus, but the truth is - He was irate! I can almost see His face shrouded in plain old fury as He contemplated His options. If I had been in His place, I can tell you that those wicked men would have been toast! But before Jesus faced the intruders, He stepped aside to braid a whip - not because He had completed “Whip Braiding 101”, but because He was taking the time to harness His emotions. Jesus then used that harnessed anger to drive the money-changers out of the temple, correcting a wrong. We choose where to invest every ounce of emotional energy we possess. Like Jesus, we must learn to invest wisely, in order to reap the benefits of healthy emotions, harnessed and trained by godly discipline.
Emotional bankruptcy is too often responsible for the destruction of a life. We must intentionally monitor emotional withdrawals and the impact they will have on our lives. There are certainly emotional withdrawals that are good, right and ordained by God. I will never forget the night we found a broken and defeated young pastor standing at our front door. With tears streaming down his face, John told us that his wife was having an affair and wanted a divorce. Certain that his ministry was doomed, this precious and gifted servant poured out his pain and defeat. For months, Dan and I ministered to this stellar young man, loving him, encouraging him, making him part of our family while he tried desperately to save his marriage.
When it became clear that his wife was determined to leave him, we repeatedly assured John that God would once again use him for Kingdom work. Today, that once broken young man is married to a beautiful, godly woman who adores him and has two incredible children. The church he now pastors is exploding in growth, changing lives and impacting the world for Jesus Christ! The time and energy we poured into David was a worthy emotional investment, to say the least, and one of our greatest blessings in ministry.
However, some emotional deposits are not good, right, healthy or God-ordained! Life is jam-packed with lifeless places in which to invest emotional energy. There are those who look to us to be their faithful savior or always available crisis manager. That job belongs to God alone!
We all know about bounced checks. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why banks don’t adopt my obviously superior philosophy about checking accounts. It goes something like this, “As long as there are checks, there is money.” Sadly, my current bank is rather narrow-minded in this area, so the reality is that my checks will bounce when our bank account is overdrawn and out of balance. The same is true in life.
We constantly need to check our emotional balance, guarding the emotional withdrawals we allow and diligently making consistent emotional deposits. Prayer, solitude, Bible study, friendships, service, accountability and a guarded thought life are just a few of the deposits that can make the difference between emotional health and emotional bankruptcy. Emotional imbalance occurs when we operate in our own strength, doing our “own thing” instead of wholly depending upon God and living in the parameters of His will. When we abandon all that we are to His strength, purpose and power, the Father deposits everything we need to accomplish every good work He created us to do.
Father, I praise You for giving me the gift of emotions. Help me learn how to manage and control those emotions so that they are assets instead of liabilities. I want to become a godly woman of discipline but I can’t even start that journey without your power. I choose to spend time in Your Word and in prayer. I submit my emotions to You and ask that You use them in my life for Your glory. And may others see and know You are God.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s Your Turn
Take a few minutes to make a list of the top five emotional responses common in your life. What one of these emotions do you experience the most?
Beside each emotion, write one habit you can incorporate into your life that will enable you to control that emotion.
Identify the activities, relationships or habits that drain you instead of replenish you. Eliminate those that are negative.
Keep an emotional diary for 5 days. Record any emotional outbursts and the reason behind those outbursts. Surrender each emotion to the power of God.
More from the Girlfriends
Since God created us with the capacity for emotions, He has a plan for those emotions. And since God never guides where He cannot provide, our emotional integrity is dependent on our obedience to God’s plan. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not! The best way to be ready for emotional struggles is to get ready and stay that way. Make the choice before you have to. And know we are right there with you … walking the same path in pursuit of emotional integrity.
Need help? Check out Mary’s MP3, Getting Good at Being You and learn how to manage emotions, instead of allowing them to manage you.
And if you don’t have our new book, Trusting God, get it today and start a new faith adventure in your life.
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Originally published Wednesday, 14 March 2012.