Thursday, August 20, 2015

From Fractured Lives To Fullness In Christ

In the post on August 13th, “Fractured Lives Part 1, I introduced 2 real-life scenarios. These are but two of hundreds of heartbreaking confessions I’ve heard over the last few years. Young women. Middle age women. Older women. Age has nothing to do with our God-given emotions or how we handle them. But it’s how we handle them that give us the victory.

Let’s take a closer look:

            Scenario #1     “I don’t have any joy in my life.”

Joy is an emotion. It’s an emotion like anger, fear, sadness, disgust, trust, anticipation, and surprise. The picture above is of Fear, Disgust, Joy, Sadness, and Anger from Pixar's film, Inside Out.

           I loved this movie! We see all these characters at the brain’s control panel, managing preteen Riley’s emotions. When emotions are under control, Riley is able to take each as it rises up and manage them. But when she gets into an overload of emotions competing for her attention, everything goes awry.

            We are no different. And our culture promotes and encourages emotion overload. We are shown and told how to feel. When we don’t comply, we end up feeling left out, dejected, defeated, and disgruntled.

            F. B. Meyer said, “Our feelings are as changeable as April weather. They are affected by an infinite number of subtle causes — our physical health, the state of the atmosphere, over weariness, and want of sleep — as well as those that are spiritual and inward.”

            As my friend and I continued to talk about her lack of joy, we both realized that we hated it when our emotions got out of control. Our conversation went from tears to laughing as we recalled the ways our emotions erupted from us, seemingly beyond our control.

            The aftermath of sadness became a time of joy. The whole tone of our conversation changed. We acknowledged that emotions can trigger a multitude of feelings, some overlapping. But the secret was in controlling them.

            In Meyer’s writings, he emphasized the importance of differentiating emotion from choice. Emotions flare naturally, but it is our choice if they stay controlled within our brain center or if they erupt, lashing out.

            A life of joy goes along with a life of discipleship with Jesus. When we live by our feelings, our life will be tossed around like a turbulent wind. And, it’s a no-win situation.We will feel horrible, and if others are in our path our emotions have the potential to unleash on others. I’m sure you can visualize that scenario. It’s happened to me far too many times.

            By the end of our conversation, my friend and I were in a genuine discussion about the core of her feelings. They were very real, but as we explored answers through faith her emotions were reigned in and back under control. Sometimes it just takes someone caring.

            For the next few months, we met once a week, and we centered on F. B. Meyer’s quote,
“Joy is peace dancing. Peace is joy at rest.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

Did things change automatically? No. But everyday my friend lifted one foot out of the mire and tasted the sweet feel of release and renewed hope. One day at a time . . .

“The joy of the Lord be your strength today and everyday.” (Neh. 8:10)

God bless you always!

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