In recent months, my husband and I have differed in opinion on a certain topic. The thing is, I hid my feelings from him, harboring my thoughts and nursing an attitude I couldn’t quite identify. It felt familiar, yet the source was elusive. Thankfully, clarity came one morning through the hot blast of a blow dryer.
Once upon a time there was this little girl…
When I was around eleven, I had an intense conversation with my sister. It was more of a tirade centered on animosity toward the “haves.” From my perspective, life had dealt me a bad hand, landing me in Camp Have Not. Plans to right this travesty gushed, and my wide-eyed sister rode out the rant.
Eleven – did you catch that? I was only eleven years old, yet I was seething with a bitterness toward, well, nearly everyone. It’s true those in-between years are tough to maneuver as we come into our own identity and begin to challenge authoritative boundaries. But this diatribe was off the charts, and my anger read well outside the normal margin of blowing off steam.
In retrospect I can identify three emotional ringleaders:
- Inferiority – Through elementary school, I was larger than all of my peers. I could see teachers favoring the normal-sized, more attractive kids. Add to that my father poking fun at my weight, and in defeat I received a deep wound of being defective. Even to this day, although I’m an average-sized woman, I’m plagued by comparison and a “less-than” mentality.
- Powerlessness – My father had a heavy hand and a hard heart, and I felt trapped in my life. I despised being born into my family and hated carrying his name. As an adult, I am still discovering underlying ways I attempt to control my circumstances.
- Rejection – Growing up, I experienced very little affection. I learned in many ways that I was on my own in this life. I thought I would never be accepted as I am. Today, God’ love is dispelling these lies.
Perception is driven by your past
As I dried my hair that morning, I realized my feelings were saying that my husband was not on my side. I perceived he was not willing to consider my opinion. I felt stuck in my current situation. I felt he was choosing not to support my feelings. But where were these crazy feelings coming from?
In screaming those words to my sister these many years ago, my message was simply this:
“With the world against me, is anyone “for me?”
These deep-rooted emotions surfaced in the disagreement with my husband.
This is why I’ve felt inferior.
This is why I’ve felt powerless.
This is why I’ve felt rejected.
Emotions want to rule – don’t let them.
We are made in God’s own image, and His Word reveals His own emotions concerning His love and jealousy for us. We see Jesus’ display His feelings of anger toward the traders in the temple, His grief over Lazarus’ death and His anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. We have emotions because they are a part of how God fearfully and wonderfully made us.
The key to emotions is to submit them to the Lord and not be ruled by them. Lysa TerKeurst is quoted as saying it this way:
”Feelings are indicators, not dictators. They can indicate where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to dictate your behavior and boss you around. You are more than the sum total of your feelings and perfectly capable of that little gift…called self-control.”
An eleven year old girl who doesn’t know Jesus would have a difficult time understanding the concept of self-control. But it’s by God’s grace that I’m here today to learn a beautiful lesson from my not-so-beautiful past.Emotions are shifty and impossible to stand on. But Jesus, our Rock, is our firm and steady… Click To Tweet
God’s plan to help us through the crazy.
When we said “yes” to Jesus, we were immediately restored to the Father relationally and justified through Christ’s blood. Now we spend the rest of our earthly lives being sanctified, or purified. The Lord so patiently walks with us through this process, maturing us in all areas, including our emotions.
But He takes His time and carries us from one step to another, only as we are mentally and emotionally ready. God used this same process to bring His people out of captivity and into the Promised Land:
“Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:30 NIV).
And that’s exactly what He’s done for me. Until now, I was not ready to face those emotions of inferiority, powerlessness and rejection. But he gently brought me to this place in the midst of an unresolved circumstance to show me His perspective of my emotions.
My question has been, “Why won’t my husband be on my side?”
My Father’s reply is found in Romans 8:31:
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Final Word – Trust Jesus, not emotions.
I think you know that this story is not to disparage my husband for not agreeing with me or to condemn myself for hiding my feelings from him while entertaining wrong thoughts. Instead, it has everything to do with submitting our lives to the Lord and allowing Him to bring us along in our maturity in Christ. It’s all about knowing that no matter what our circumstances are, we can trust in Jesus despite our emotions.
When I think of me as a young girl who felt caged in despised circumstances, I remember how overpowering my anger was. I realize I could have been like so many stories we hear today of young kids acting out their anger in violence. Unbeknownst to me, the Holy Spirit was with me, comforting me through the pain and preparing me for this day.
Are you struggling with emotions today? If so, lay them before the Lord and allow Him to shine His healing truth-light upon them.
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