How to Handle Unhealthy Emotions

So we had a very sad weekend. We lost one of our brand new guinea pigs.

fox.jpg

We had gone to the pet store and picked out the sweetest, cutest guineas for my girls (one for each). They were a few weeks old and a new adventure for our family. We were slightly partial to one of them that was calm, smaller and skinnier than the other and we seriously couldn’t get enough of this little hairball and loved on her for an entire week. Over the weekend, we returned home from a soccer game, excited to play with the pigs only to find the favored one dead. The girls cried. My heart sank and I went in to “Momma mode” trying to figure out what happened.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you wish you could rewind? I wish we had a “do-over” option in life sometimes. The day we bought her she had a bald spot and I asked if she had mites and was told a very firm, “no.” Lesson one: go with your gut instinct. I knew something wasn’t right, but she was so cute! The night before I thought she was acting slow and somewhat unresponsive but brushed it off. Bad move. The next day, she died.

The thing is, she was unhealthy from the first day we got her and we didn’t see the signs that were obvious: eating but not growing, her demeanor and how she was significantly smaller than the other. It got me thinking: what do we have in our lives that is unhealthy, but goes unnoticed? Are there spiritual signs that we should be tuning into but it’s easier to brush it off?Hey, maybe we even hold onto things because we think they are "cute" or fulfilling and in reality they are a blaring sign that something inside isn’t right. If we don’t analyze the symptoms, there is certain spiritual death and the reality is, this truth applies to all of us.

I’m reading the book, “The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually Changes Lives” by Peter Scazzero. It’s a great read in which he breaks down why emotional health is directly tied to spiritual maturity. Let that statement sink in for just a second. In order to begin the process of healthy emotions, it requires unmasked, painful honesty. A good, hard look at the contents of your heart and soul. In other words: in order to own healthy emotions, you have to first own the unhealthy ones.

Are you up for a challenge? This book gives four areas to begin the process of emotional growth, but here’s the kicker: you have to look at you. They aren’t to be read through with someone else in mind. The only heart you have authority to check is your own. Although I have paraphrased in my own words these four steps, the content is Peter Scazzero’s completely. Here we go…

1. Be aware of what emotions you are carrying. All of them. The good, the bad and the ugly. Name them, label them, call them out. I’m feeling…angry.I’m feeling…lonely.I’m feeling…jealous. I’m feeling…discouraged. Jesus did it. In Mark 10:14, he was angry at his disciples. That’s just one of many of the emotions he experienced. When we put a good honest name on something, we know how to attack it.

2. Always, always, always ask WHY. Why am I where I am today?Why am I always defensive to feedback?Why do I shy away from confrontation?Why am I avoiding a certain person?Why do I always have to be right? We all have different “why” questions. It will take courage to ask yourself why you are carrying certain emotions.

3. Learn from the emotions in the Bible. Have you ever noticed that the biggest spiritual giants in the Bible have something in common? Their faith was fueled by their failures. They dealt with major issues within themselves before God allowed them to deal with major issues within His kingdom. They were messy. Ministry is messy. It’s ok for us to be messy too.

4. Evaluate where most of your time is going: are you maintaining your heart or maintaining appearances? Are you investing time in seeking what God desires from you or what others desire from you? These aren’t easy questions, are they? I know. It takes some serious bravery.

Aren’t you thankful for a God that is bigger than our most shameful emotions? He can take the ugliest moments and use them for his glory…if you’ll let him. It’s time to notice the unhealthy signs in our lives so that we can begin the healing process. Unhealthy emotions effect every relationship we engage in. More importantly, they effect who God created us to be. We can have them, it's ok. But they can't have us.

Catch all the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.Song of Solomon 2:15