Emotional Health

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How do you feel when I say these words? Anguish? Passion? Sentimental? Shock? According to Merriam Webster, there are at least 136 synonyms for the word “Emotional.” Psychologist will tell you that their are anywhere between 6 and 27 emotions. Happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust are the few words for emotions that are agreed upon. I would say there these may be the basic emotions, but the levels for each is wide and varied. I know that I have been a little scared before, and I have also been deeply afraid. How do we truly know what a person is feeling? Sometimes, we don’t even know what we are feeling. God knows our heart, and therefore knows what we are feeling. Our emotions play a role in our thoughts and in our actions. God created us to have emotions just as we were created to think and act. We have the ability feel deeply, some more deeply than others. Some people may feel deeply yet never show their emotions. Humans emotions are strong and can be hard to control.
Pray and Read Galatians 5:13-26
Galatians 5:13–26 NRSV
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.
We have been given Free Will, that is the freedom to do whatever we want but with consequences of course. This is why boundaries have been set, such as laws, to keep humanity in check. From an early age we are taught right from wrong. Most of the time our morals and the boundaries that are set will keep us from doing wrong. As Christians, we can thank the Holy Spirit for being our conscious and guide. I will argue, however, that it is our emotions that makes us forget our morals most often. Think about it. If you are scared, you will fight or run and hide. If you are angry, and that anger goes unchecked or goes out of control, you could do harm to yourself or other people. When you are sad for extended periods of time, you become depressed and the harder it becomes to feel joy again.
Our emotions plays into many of the decisions we make. How we feel about a situation or a person determines what we are willing to do in terms of the situation or with that person. It is hard to make decisions outside of our emotions, that is why we need the Holy Spirit. If we live by the Holy Spirit, we are more likely to make decisions based on love and clarity of God’s will than what would satisfy our earthly desires. Paul gives us a warning about allowing our emotions dictate how we treat others. We gossip because it either gives us a feeling of connection to those we are gossiping with or a sense of being better than those who are the subject of our gossip. Either way, negative thinking about a person will consume our thoughts and then will consume our actions.
It is easy for us to give into our earthly desires. Many people do it without even understanding that it is morally wrong. We don’t want to think that we could ever be mean to others but again, our emotions can lead us in making decisions that can cause harm. Wishing ill for someone, letting disagreements become fights, thinking that others are better than you, gossiping, and trying to build alliances all leads to division, which is not the way a Christian is supposed to act. Unfortunately, it is these things that have even caused churches to breakdown and close. Some of the most painful family arguments I have witnessed have happened during the time of funerals. Many times it is because of the grief the loved ones are experiencing that causes those disagreements. Our negative emotions may also be the result of pain we suffered years ago, even from our childhood, that we have not overcome or forgiven. When we let our desires rule over us, which in many cases are caused by our emotions, we face brokenness in our way of life, our family, our churches and it affects our work and careers.
We can monitor our emotions by asking a few simple questions: Is it true? Is there some other reason I feel the way I do? I do anything about the situation? How can God help me to understand more clearly?
Again, our emotions can send us down a path of feelings that wind up reflecting nothing like what is really going on. In other words, we may feel hurt by something someone said. True enough that we feel hurt, but what did we do with that hurt? Did we talk to the person openly and calmly about how their words and actions affected us? Or did we let the hurt fester and begin to think falsely about the situation? Just maybe the person did not know their words hurt us or their actions offended us, but how are they to know unless we talk to them? They may have not even intended those words to be directed towards us. If we are not careful, we can get caught up in a mindset were we are constantly offended. Then it is hard to make friends, get to know people, or even work or serve with others. Instead of feeling our way through this life, sometimes we can see more clearly when we take a step back and think positively therefore allowing us to feel more positive about the situation, ourselves, others who may be involved.
God wants us to experience more positive emotions even in times of hardship and pain. We will have times of grief, anger, and sadness. But we do not have to let those emotions control our lives. This is why we are given the Fruit of the Spirit. The last question we should ask ourselves when we think our emotions are getting the best of us is, “How can God help me to understand more clearly?” Through His Holy Spirit, we are drawn to experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and self-control. It is in the Fruit of the Spirit where true freedom lies.
Instead of letting our emotions control us, we should seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In seeking the Holy Spirit, we will bear good fruit of positive emotions that will guard our minds and actions from suffering and hurting others. When we look within ourselves, and think godly about our situations and relationships, we are able to rise up out of the trip of negative emotions. When sometime happens that invokes emotions in you, breathe and pray. Go to God first, and let Him guide you. Be grateful for the good things, and patient and kind in the bad times. Revenge and strife are not of God. God is Love! Jesus endured much for us. Find joy in the Truth. Know that God is with you in all things. Let Jesus be in your heart and feel His love for yourself and for others.
In the Name of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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