We’ve Nothing to Fear but Fear (and maybe a few of our emotions, too)
I start to react.
My stomach knots and my shoulders tense. I feel anxious and a little disappointed; although I’m not even sure I have a right to be.
I start to react. But I don’t.
Does it sound like some major event caused the above scenario? It wasn’t. In reality, it was something minor. Stupid, really. The kind of thing that each of us face numerous times each day.
Too often our emotions determine our actions—and not always for the better. Even for the most logical among us, feelings factor into virtually every word, every thought and every deed. Which means, left to run wild, our feelings can end up wielding way more power over our lives than they should.
How much do your emotions affect your behavior? Do you even know? Take this simple quiz to find out.
This week I have felt…
This week I have…
1. Talked negatively about someone
2. Said or did things I regret out of anger
3. Avoided a problem or difficult discussion
4. Put off doing something I wanted to do or thought I should do
5. Tried to manipulate a person or a circumstance to go my way
Do you see any correlation between how you felt and how you behaved? Chances are, you do.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying emotions are bad; I’m just saying we need to be aware of just how much our emotions factor into the way we function in our marriage, in our parenting, in our work environment, with our friends and even with God.
This past week I’ve been reading the account of Jesus’ crucifixion. Something struck me that I hadn’t really considered before. The night before his death, Jesus took his closest friends to the garden of Gethsemane. Here’s a record of what he said and did:
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26)
Did Jesus have feelings? You bet he did. Did Christ’s circumstances cause him to experience emotions? Most definitely. So how did Jesus handle his emotions? Did he allow his emotions to determine his behavior?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, in that Jesus acknowledged his feelings. He didn’t avoid them, ignore them or deny them. And his feelings were pretty intense. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”, Jesus said.
Yes, in that Jesus’ feelings caused him to draw close to the Father, casting all his cares on Him.
But Jesus’ feelings of being overwhelmed with sorrow didn’t prevent him from doing what the Father called him to do.
The disciples, on the other hand, fell asleep on the job. As a result, later that night their feelings of fear and confusion and agony ran wild. Their emotions influenced their behavior. Only, unlike Jesus, they ran away from God, not to him. They said and did things they later regretted.
Our feelings factor into the way we function. They just do.
Which is why we must learn to handle our emotions—especially our intense ones—the way Jesus did.
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
When I acknowledge my feelings I’m living watchful.
When I pause to talk to God about my feelings, I’m living prayerful.
Watching and praying: These two habits are the antidote to allowing my feelings to control me, my words, my thoughts, and my actions in ways I’ll later regret.
This week I watched how I felt and then I prayed about those feelings (the prayer was quick!) and I didn’t react. Instead I responded in the way God called me to respond. I learned from Jesus and it made all the difference.
I want to do right. I really do. But sometimes my emotions get in the way. I’m guessing yours do, too. Jesus knows. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
This week, instead of allowing our feelings to run rampant, why don’t we watch and pray and see what happens?
Donna speaks to thousands of women all over the United States. To have Donna speak at your event click here.
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More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.