Over the past 2 weeks, I received a lot of really positive feedback about our Emotions series. We’ve talked about anxiety and anger and I’ve tried to point out a few things that have resonated with many of you.
First, emotions (those perceived as positive AND negative) are meant to be a gift for us. God gave them to us. Jesus had them and so do we. Emotions like happiness, freedom and joy are generally very welcome gifts but emotions like anxiety, fear and sadness seem more like a curse or a sign of some type of failure in our lives. In reality, all are gifts to enhance our lives, magnify the joys and help us fully experience the low points that we all inevitably have.
Second, emotions like anxiety, anger and sadness are normal to the human experience, not an indication of failure like some claim. Jesus had great anxiety before his arrest, even to the point of sweating drops of blood. It’s a picture of anxiety, that though we all struggle with it at some point or another, likely never will reach this depth of deep anxiousness.
I’ve heard many times that if you are feeling anxious, at best you are lacking faith and at worst you are sinning. I don’t think either are true.
I know I don’t like to feel anxious but if Jesus did, it certainly doesn’t ALWAYS mean you are sinning…unless you say Jesus was sinning, too.
I’ve found in my own life that anxiety can actually be a great help if it is understood and dealt with. Anxiety has alerted me to a broken relationship that I’m feeling more than I’m really thinking about. It reminds me that I need to do something about it rather than just let it slip into oblivion.
Sometimes, I get very stressed about our family finances, especially as a self-employed person. For those that don’t know me, I’m a bi-vocational pastor which means I work another job outside of pastoring Journey Church. There have been times that I have become complacent in planning for our future and growing my own business that has led to deep anxiety about our ability to just “make it” in life. There have been many times I’ve awoken in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep thinking about college or retirement or something else. God doesn’t want me to worry about those things for sure, but instead of wallowing in it, I usually wake up the next morning committed to getting back on track which leads me to the third thing we have tried to point out through this series…
Emotions ARE meant to enhance but they are NOT meant to control your life. Imagine if you never faced any of your fears? What would your life look like? You probably wouldn’t ask out that person that you really like but have no idea how they would respond to you. You might not go to your boss and tell them you think you deserve a raise or a promotion based on your job performance. I doubt you would have kids and that incredible moment as you peered over a high cliff to see the beautiful landscape of God’s creation wouldn’t have happened either.
In our lives, I can tell you that we never would have started a church or a business, had 3 kids, fostered or adopted our youngest (especially at 45 years old) if our fear controlled us. Yet all of those things have added exponential blessings to our lives! I can’t imagine life without them!
In my faith, I have a frequent conversation with God when I feel He is asking me to do something that I’m not sure I’m up for. It goes something like this.
God: I want you to do something…
Me: I REALLY don’t know about that…what if it doesn’t work out?
God: What if it doesn’t? I still want you to do it.
Me: Ok, I’ll do it, but you have to be there or I won’t make it.
God: I’m always there, so let’s go do it!
While that may be a bit dramatic, it’s really not. I have found some of the best things in life come after I have broken through anxiety, fear, sadness or worry and I’m not alone! Many people who have decided not to be controlled by their emotions have found the very same thing.
As you follow your own journey on this rock that can be ripe with pain, take a chance. Fully live into your emotions but don’t let them control you. They are there for a reason but so is your brain, your reason, your courage and your God.