So, sometimes I have these moments where I literally feel like I am not in control of my reactions, emotions, actions etc.. Like I am being compelled by something that is not from me. I am not talking about being possessed or anything like that, but sometimes my emotions are so strong they feel like they have taken over.
Sometimes those emotions are great things!.. Such as when they are love for someone, protection of someone, conviction for justice and truth or what is right.. etc.. However, sometimes they are really bad.. anger and aggression at someone or something that is out of my control.
Emotions take work. Lots and lots of work to refine and create an accurate compass. When I was a kid I had a HORRIBLE temper.. I mean really bad. I kicked my 2 year old brother off the couch cause he slipped and fell on my legs once. I tried choking my older brother because he said something insulting.. I mean literally out of control. However, even then I knew better because not once did I ever lose it in front of my parents, which means I was actually in complete control, I just chose not to be when I did not feel like it. Until one day my dad (after I had done something ridiculous that I do not remember anymore) came to me… got within inches of my face, and very calmly, very controlled said, “If you do not control your temper… I will control it for you.” then stood up and walked away. I. Was. Petrified. And, from that moment on I “magically” controlled my temper. I mean I would lose it occasionally, but never again did I lash out AT someone. I learned quickly where my boiling point was and how to remove myself from those situations. Then, as I got older I started purposefully working to process through my emotions, actively sought out people who could help me process when I felt my emotions were the only glass by which I was seeing through.
To this day, whenever I get emotional or feel my emotions taking over I am incredibly intentional about processing and separating my emotions from my decision making. I have gotten to the point where I know I FEEL a certain way, but I also recognize the reality or logic behind what is going on….
Which has lead me to the last sentence of my previous post… I have to be VERY careful not to confuse my emotions and subsequently my actions for the will of God or the Holy Spirit. They are not one in the same.. and one does not lead or become inspired by the other. They CAN be.. but they are not intricately woven in each other enough to assume that my emotions about something must be the Holy Spirit laying it on my heart. Not necessarily the case.
Just because something is “wrong” and I feel indignation about the issue, treatment of others, actions, reactions, etc.. of other people does not mean God has tasked me with the mission to right the wrong. Sometimes He absolutely has.. but not always. And, I would even go so far as to say sometimes we assume that our emotions are or should be our driving force behind why we do something… and that is wrong. Stay with me while I unpack this a bit…
I have emotions about a lot of things, starving children in Africa, homeless people in NYC, inner city kids with absent parents, mistreatment of disabled people, disrespect of parents from their children, the abuse shown from parents to kids, the government forcing laws I do not agree with, people being sent to war over politics, the disrespect shown to the warriors and soldiers who are doing it for a variety of their own reasons, the TV evangelists, Christian radio stations, westboro baptist church… trust me, my list goes on and on. But, do you see the incredibly wide variety of things that can easily boil over into a passionate and emotional discussion about my beliefs!?.. And, let’s call a spade a spade.. There are definite right and wrong in each of these situations, mostly on an individual basis, but it is there none the less. The problem is, just because I have an emotion about these things, and even a very strong emotion, does not mean God has called me to take up each of these crosses and follow Him.
I can honestly say that most of these issues have no other purpose in my heart than to compel me to pray for them.. for the people who it IS their mission and passion.. sweet spot and desire to take care of these situations and issues. Meaning, in the body of Christ, the hands holding the guns in Iraq are the ones actually tasked with that mission.. I am merely the mouth uttering petitions before the Lord of grace, mercy, strength, protection, and courage in their situation. I am the backup to their situation, I am not the lead just because I feel strongly about something.
There is a VERY distinct, but VERY fine line between my emotions and being compelled by the Holy Spirit. The line is easy to miss, and takes intentionality to learn how to see it.. But, recognizing this line is what separates the “new Christians” from the “mature Christians” (although these are poor word choices, they are the best I have to communicate my meaning right now…). I think more often than not we choose to take up arms and fight for something that we were never meant to fight for… We have chosen to waste time and energy on something that God never meant for us.. Even though it may be a “right” cause, we often let our human, fallen, broken flesh/past/history/emotions/hangups dictate us instead of going before the throne and making sure we are following God’s plan and purpose. Know your role.. Purposefully seek out exactly what God is telling you your role is…
Let me say it this way:
“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”
I promise each person in this story was emotional, passionate, fired up, invested, and engaged in this situation.. But, each had their own role to play, and had they stepped out of their God given role based off of their emotions about the situation, they would have been sinning and a problem rather than a solution.
Your emotions cannot be your exclusive compass in regards to right, wrong, and whether the Holy Spirit is compelling you to take action… Emotions come and go like the wind, so cannot be an accurate compass. They are merely the first step in the process; hopefully they are the step that takes you to your knees to figure out where God is placing your next step.
Take the steps to becoming a mature Christian.. Look for the differences (sometimes subtle) to your emotions and the Holy Spirit’s prompting. They feel different when you are paying attention, I promise.