A friend asked me the other day how I'm able to keep my feelings from running my life. My answer?
I don't always. But I'm learning.
From 0 to 10
I had a bad afternoon with the boys last week. A rather long day filled with disobedience and hard hearts left me feeling disillusioned, and as I sat in my driveway watching them play basketball I literally felt my emotions start to run away.
I started off embarrassed by their behavior. Then I got mad because it was what seemed like the millionth time I had asked them to obey with no apparent response. Anger moved into frustration because sometimes it just feels like nothing ever changes around here. Frustration led to a feeling of being completely overwhelmed at my own lack of ability to change their hearts. And finally, feeling overwhelmed moved to straight hopelessness and a desire to just. give. up.
In a matter of about two minutes I went from 0 to 10 on the emoto-to-meter (you know, the one that measures when mama's going to snap??) and ended the day feeling like a total failure as a mom. Ever been there?
Even if you're not a mom, my guess is that you've experienced something similar to what I'm talking about. Maybe your boss made a snide remark at work that made you think he didn't like you. And of course, we all know that if your boss doesn't like you, you'll never get a promotion. And if you never get a promotion, you'll never make more money. And if you never make more money, you'll never be able to afford that new car your family desperately needs, PLUS all that time and money spent on your education will just go right down the tubes. Maybe you should just quit now before he fires you?
See how it works?
Can you change the way you feel??
Women have been saying for years that we can't change how we feel. We get mad when people (OK especially men) tell us how to feel, or make us believe we don't have a right to feel the way we want to. We've fought hard to make our voices heard and our opinions count, so learning that our emotions don't have to control us can be a bitter pill to swallow. Frankly, it's one I still struggle with.
I'm not trying to say that our emotions and feelings are always wrong, but they certainly can be. God gave us emotions as a barometer—they tell us both what's happening in our hearts and in our surroundings. Sometimes, they're right on the money. But more often than not, they need to come under the authority of the Word of God.
Even if we do have a right to our own feelings,we don't have to submit to them or let them control us. With God's help, we can change the way we feel. But it requires a choice, and before we go any further, you have to make yours.
1. Do you believe the Word of God is true?
If you do, it's your basis for living and foundation of truth. It's where you go to understand the world, and the place you turn to when it doesn't make sense.
2. Will you study the Bible, taking the time to understand what it says?
If not, the Bible may never be anything more to you than a bag of tricks. God's Word isn't a magic trick or a wiggly nose (anyone not know what I'm talking about there??), it's a solid rock upon which to build your life. Spending time getting to know the God who wrote it is the difference between it just being a classic book, and a book having the power to radically change your life.
3. Will you choose to believe what the Bible says is true, even when what you see and feel screams something different?
Here's the key: Forcing your emotions and feelings to get in line requires the sometimes hard choice to say no to them, and yes to what the Bible says. It's a simple truth, but difficult application, and sometimes it will require every ounce of self-control you can muster. That's why it's so important to have the other two questions above settled in your mind and heart before even trying.
Once you've answered these questions, you're ready to move on and learn how to control your feelings by replacing the lies with the truth. To do that, click over to my personal blog. This post is a part of a series on learning to control our emotions.
Question: Do you believe you can change the way you feel? Why, or why not?
As a photography-lover I often find myself on a hunt for the best light. Lately, I've been obsessed with natural light, studying the lay of the land around my home, and finding the best light there is during each part of the day. I love how light can bring out the unseen beauty of a person or thing, but I'm learning that it can't always be controlled.
I just have to chase it.
Chasing the Light
A friend recently asked me to explain the cause for my recent improvement in photography ability. My answer? I really want to make beautiful photos, because when I do, my soul gets filled up and I find amazing peace and pleasure. I'm motivated by the reward it brings me, so I keep working and keep learning. I still take PLENTY of duds (most of them, truth be known), but the ones that take my breath away more than make up for the ones that don't.
I have a thirst for photography knowledge and beauty, and I'm willing to follow hard after the results I want.
Reminds me of the Christian life.
The classic example of a man who followed hard after God was, of course, David. Known as a man with a "heart after God," David followed Him even when it didn't make sense to do so. He suffered for the sake of His God, made mistakes along the way, and had to pay the consequences for his sin just like everyone else. But through it all, his heart remained "after God."
I used to think that phrase meant that David had a heart like God—similar to, made in the image of. Now, I like to think of the word "after" as a more of a verb.
David was after God's heart—pursuing it, desiring it, reaching for it with everything he had—chasing the Light. He was quick to repent, quick to obey, and quick to unabashedly show his love for the God he followed.
I want to be like that.
When someone asks me about the quality of my life, and why I've been able to steadily improve my character...
When they ask me why the fruit of the spirit is more evident in my life now than it was a year ago...
I want to be able to say that it's because I really want to chase after the Light, because when I do, my soul gets filled up and I find amazing peace and pleasure. I'm motivated by the reward He bought me, so I keep working and keep learning. I still make PLENTY of mistakes (most of the time, truth be known), but the times that take my breath away more than make up for the times that don't.
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” ~John 8:12
I want to make the effort to follow Jesus hard even when it doesn't make sense to do so. Why? Because I'm learning that He can't be controlled. I just have to chase Him.
Is there something in your life that's keeping you from chasing hard after God? Wouldn't it be great if today was the day you let it go, picked up your skirts, and started running?
There's an army of us out there who have been hurt again and again by friendships.
We bow down to the "please just like me, "please just choose me" idols of the heart, and find ourselves easy prey in the hands of sinful, broken man—not necessarily any more broken or sinful than we are—but in man's economy, broken + broken often equals more broken.
So we build fortresses around our hearts. Walls of protection to keep us safe. And when the hurts come, as they inevitably will, we find that we can either build the walls higher—running, hiding—or we can allow the wrecking ball of life to break them down completely, falling headfirst into the open arms of the only One who can really protect our hearts.
The One who made them.
On Wanting to Be Wanted
A recent issue in my own life has had me thinking about that weak, vulnerable, sometimes ugly place in my heart that longs to be wanted, chosen. Somebody's good friend. Special in some way. Needed for something.
As my heart has hurt through it, I've asked the Lord to show me its root, because I believe He would have me lay it down once and for all.
Is it because of that time that no one would dance with me at my friend's grade school birthday party?
Is it because my non-athletic self often got chosen last for games, and just couldn't hang with the girls who could walk and dribble a ball at the same time?
Maybe it was that time (or three) that friends got new friends and I got left behind.
All of these things combined together can be an equation for disaster if I let them get ahold of me. Most of the time, they lie dormant in my heart. But just like the hurt of an accidental rub against an open wound, when I get hit in my weak spot, I remember it all, and it hurts.
The Lonely Place
I know I'm not alone. There are hundreds, if not millions of you out there who fight that weak, vulnerable place every day and find yourself desperately trying to remember your worth in the eyes of God.
After all, His eyes are the only ones that can see the depths of your heart—and really, they're the only ones that matter.
When you find yourself in that lonely place (you know the one friend—it's where your worst fears and hurtful words that aren't true get flung at you by the enemy of your soul. The enemy who wants to snuff out your light and make you think you're unloveable—that place), would you remember these things my friend?
God loves you even when you fail. When you regret your response, or get too mad, or forget that you're an example to those who might be watching...God loves you still.
Even if it's your fault, grace is waiting right around the corner. If not from man, from the One who made him. There is always, always grace.
Own your faults, but reject the rest. The enemy wants you to embrace it all, but ask God to help you sift through to the truth, and then choose to let the rest fall away.
Remember that you ARE chosen. You are lovely, redeemed, chosen. And you are 100% ENOUGH to be the beautiful bride of Christ.
He chose you in spite of your past.
He chose you even though you can't walk and dribble a ball at the same time.
He thinks you're lovely enough to spend eternity with Him.
He'll never leave you behind when He finds someone new.
You ARE Chosen
This truth is what gives us the strength to keep shining our little lights when Satan threatens to put them out. It's what gives us the courage to take a sledge hammer to the walls of our fortress, and expose our sinful, but redeemed hearts to the world one more time.
Because in God's economy, redeemed + redeemed = beautiful.
Last week, all across our Nation, people celebrated Sanctity of Human Life Week culminating on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Many of you heard sermons on Psalm 139. You learned how God lovingly knit you together in your mother’s womb, how He has a plan for your life—a GOOD plan.
But you didn’t see the woman sitting next to you who was grieving her abortion that day.
You didn’t see her because you don’t know about her past—she doesn’t talk about it.
Because she doesn’t know how you’ll react. She doesn’t know if she can trust you. She doesn’t know if you’re safe.
The latest statistics show that as many as four in ten women have experienced one or more abortions. The next time you’re in a large group of women look around and let that statistic wash over you. Our churches, women’s organizations, PTA’s, salons and spas, and gyms are FULL of women who are hurting from an abortion, suffering in silence because they’re afraid if they tell you, you won’t understand.
Do we understand?
There was a time when I really didn’t. I said things like, “I don’t get how a woman could ever have an abortion.” Or, “It’s a child, not a choice.” What I didn’t understand was that in all our efforts as a society to make sure women have a choice, what we’ve done is make them feel they don’t have another choice. Most women faced with an unplanned pregnancy don’t want to have an abortion. They just don’t feel there’s another option.
A woman’s choice to have an abortion affects every part of her being, but the good news is that the choice to abort is not outside of God’s ability to forgive and heal.The bad news is that many times our “christianese” makes the woman sitting next to us in the pew who’s had two feel we’re unworthy of her trust.
If these precious women don’t trust us, how can we help them heal?
Here are a few ways you can help her feel safe.
1. Lay down stereotypes
Go through the counselor training at your local crisis pregnancy center and learn more about who she really is. You might be surprised to know that the stereotypes don’t always fit. Your child’s PTA President is just as likely to have chosen abortion as the mom on welfare in the inner city.
2. Don’t use loaded words.
Murder is a word that gets thrown around all too often when we talk about abortion. And while it might be true, saying it in mixed company might be all the post-abortive woman in your group needs to hear to know you’re not safe. Always look at the crowd you’re in and think, “she could be here. How can I help her know I care?”
3. Get rid of black and white thinking.
I freely admit that I’m a black and white thinker by nature. I have to work hard to see the grey in the world. But after working with women in unplanned pregnancy for over 15 years of my life now, I can truly say that I DO understand why a woman would choose abortion. I’m not saying I think it’s the right or even the best choice for her, but I get it. I’ve heard stories that would curl your toes. I’ve counseled women who would’ve been murdered for being pregnant outside of marriage, others who arrived at our doorstep black and blue—a friendly reminder from the father of the baby about what her choice had better be. Until you hear her story, you simply can’t know why she made the decision she did. Be open, and welcome her story.
Remember that left to yourself, apart from the work of God in your life, you could just as easily be the one with a story of abortion to tell. If you caught yourself saying, “I would NEVER have an abortion” as you read that last sentence, consider spending some time reflecting on the nature and definition of sin. The sin of abortion is no worse than the sin of gossip in the eyes of God. And the truth of the matter is that you can’t possibly know what you might’ve chosen if you were walking in her shoes.
So many women in our world today need to know freedom and forgiveness from their choice to abort. And there’s no better place for them to come find it than in the body of Christ.
Brooke McGlothlin is the co-author of Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess, and helps boy moms navigate the testosterone-filled life at the MOB Society.
Originally posted at The Better Mom.