Every once in awhile my eyes roll to my head when I’m listening to teen girls gab about boys.
Yes, the boy thing. And how do you tell them that this boy most likely isn’t the future husband when all the emotions say otherwise?
During those moments I see clearly what God must see so clearly about us—that much of our lives are based off immediate emotional reactions rather than deliberate Godly responses.
Girl sees cute boy and bam—all the natural emotional responses start rolling.
It takes self control to wait, decide what you want with life and relationships, and work on character rather than premature dating. A wise parent will do her best to encourage the latter even when emotional responses from a child would cause her to buckle.
But teen love and dating is not the only thing that can be ruined by natural emotional responses. What about us? As fully grown adults, how do we live?
“The irony of the term “self control” is that it is not about our act of taking control, but rather about our surrendering control to God.” ~Jennifer Ussleman, Choosing to Choose Better
I don’t think there’s really any way we can force our emotions in line with the will of God. Usually, emotions over-power better knowledge. But surrendering ourselves to the Lord makes us new creatures, which means there’s an inner response more powerful than a natural reaction.
As a friend once said, “When God does something, it’s like there’s an aroma of the Holy Spirit that is just different than something outside of His will.”
We can’t always show our children the difference until they experience it personally, but we can, as parents, do our best to guide them toward wisdom.
This is our responsibility.
This is our duty.
This is our job.
(My babies plus one more from Slovokia. We love you, Tampka!)
But back to ourselves. Living above our emotions affects how we discern the will of God (not the easy way, but the right way), how we eat, speak, and run our businesses. It affects what atmosphere people sense when they’re around us, how much life they glean from our presence in the room.
What atmosphere do you bring to the table?
And what about this—living above emotions even affects how we eat. We’re suddenly able to choose for health rather than weigh our bodies down with excess junk.
Eat to get your emotions comforted and you’ll end up emotionally uncomfortable when you step on the scale or go clothes shopping. Making the better choice in spite of emotions ends up setting your emotions free.
Eating for life instead of emotions is a good picture of what happens in all of life when we choose higher than feelings. Suddenly, we start feeling better.
Get this—when you no longer allow your feelings to run your life, you suddenly start feeling better and living a better life.
(Nutritious and deliscious–curry chicken salad, brown bread, and all things fresh.)
Our emotions are here to guide us, not rule us. They are one factor, not the greatest factor. They are useful tools, not the end of wisdom. This means that if your emotions are leading you astray, you reign them in and follow wisdom instead.
Your feelings can even be swayed by religion. Amish people are taught that owning a car is worldly. Because their feelings have been conditioned by culture and decades of religion, they will truly feel guilty when they purchase a car.
(My world as a child.)
A muslim woman will feel guilty for exposing her face. And I, as an Amish girl, remember hiding behind the refrigerator when a man from church knocked on the door. My feelings told me that for him to see my hair would be shameful.
Even religion has to humbly exchange itself for relationship, and bow itself to the pure, holy, written Word of God that will change or bow to no one and for no one. It is not God’s job to fit our interpretation of His will; it is our job to surrender to His perfect Word and will, even when it collides with what we’ve always been taught.
Ironic, isn’t it? At the cross, we kneel low so our souls can rise high. All of us, inside and out, need to bow at the cross and subject ourselves to a Greater Word.
Whatever we feel in the process will eventually be exchanged for greater grace than we’d ever know, were we to bow to anything less than the Word of God.
Choosing rightly may never change your circumstances, but it will absolutely change your heart. And that, my friends, is a greater miracle we can only know when we’ve experienced the beautiful, loving presence of Jesus Christ. Emotions can lead us astray, but He will always lead us upward, onward, and into freedom.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)