Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting off the Emotional Roller Coaster

How good are you at controlling and regulating your emotions? Do you find yourself on an emotional roller coaster much of the time, or are you more stable? Do those who are close to you need to walk on eggshells each time they encounter you, until they figure out whether you’re on a mountain top or in a valley? Some of us are literally worn out from the crazy train of our emotions, and we would like to be more stable for our own sake, and more predictable for the sake of those around us, but we just haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Today, I would like to talk about becoming more emotionally stable, and maybe figure out a plan to move toward that goal.

I believe there are several factors involved when a believer has trouble controlling her emotions. The first thing to check out is a physical or medical issue. Blood sugar, thyroid, nutrition, and hormone levels can all be factors in emotional instability. A thorough physical exam is the first thing to do when we desire to be more emotionally predictable. Lab tests can rule out many causes, and detect those that need to be treated. I have seen amazing results in friends, and even in myself, when more attention is paid to the physical side of things. Sleep is especially important in stabilizing emotions. I know few people who are steady emotionally if they are not getting adequate rest.

The second factor in emotional instability is that the battle is spiritual. Often, we follow our feelings up and down, wrongly believing that they are controlled by our circumstances. When this happens, we have been deceived. Circumstances cannot change your emotions. Circumstances are just that—Things that are going on around you, not inside you. Nothing and no one can make you feel a particular way. Though you may not like to hear this, the truth is that you can control your emotional response to your circumstance. When your child is disobedient and you become angry, that child did not make you angry. The child disobeyed and you became angry because his behavior inconvenienced you, or you have told him 100 times not to do that, or some other frustration resulting from his disobedience. While anger may be your natural response, it is not the godly response.  “The flesh wars against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are in opposition to one another… (Gal 5:17a).” It is clear from this passage that there is a battle. When you become sinfully angry or upset because of someone else’s behavior or because of a circumstance, you have lost the battle. Your flesh has overcome the Spirit of God in you and caused you to sin. Remember though, that although you may have lost a single battle, the war has already been won. Don’t forget that all of your sin has been paid in full. Though I do not want to minimize sin here, I also don’t think we need to beat ourselves up when we do lose a battle. Repent and get back in the game, with a plan to do better next time.

That brings me to my final point—the plan. Another reason we sometimes lose the battle in our emotions is because we don’t have a plan for what we will do when a circumstance threatens to overwhelm us. This is where Scripture memory becomes so important. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, so that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13).” There is no temptation to sin that cannot be overcome. Ask God to show you the way of escape, and He will.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… (2 Cor. 10:4-5).” We have powerful weapons against our fleshly response, if we will only use them. They are mighty in God. As our emotions threaten to argue against the truth that we know, we call on the Lord to help us fight the temptation to lose control. He is faithful, and He will bring His might to bear on our response.