Have you ever watched the World Cup soccer matches on TV? I love watching the fans. They are so passionate about their team. They shout, they jump, they hug each other, they clap, they sing, they laugh, they cry. They don’t care what they look like, the emotion takes over and they are fully involved. The fans don their respective team jerseys and paint their faces and the stadium is transformed into a melting pot of color and partisan support. Even college football does not produce the same atmosphere and fervent fans.
Google where emotions come from and you get a Spock-like response.”The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is located in the front area of the brain; this is the part of the brain called the frontal lobes. This is the area of the brain where our emotional control, judgment and insight comes from.”
I’m not sure I could understand that in the same way I can’t understand the concept of electricity. But like electricity, I know that emotions play important roles in our lives. They are natural and can be beneficial. But, on the other hand, we must all realize that sometimes emotions cloud people’s thinking, so they do things they should not. Take the case of rioters fighting the police at a future world cup site in Brazil because another team’s mascot was in the area. Or people getting trampled in the melee that resulted from a perceived bad call by a referee in England a few years back. Emotions can be confusing, uncertain, even dangerous.
But I do know this: God chose to give us these emotions, and He did so for a reason. He wants us to experience the “joy” of salvation (Psalm 51:12) and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). And the angels “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote that there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
If we thought about it, I believe each of us would come to the conclusion there is a time for every emotion. In fact, there are times in our lives when emotions overlap. John Piper on his website Desiring God wrote that God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They reveal what your heart loves, trusts, and fears. He went on to say that “At Desiring God we like to say pleasure is the measure of your treasure, because the emotion of pleasure is a gauge that tells you what you love.“
There are many people that believe women are more emotional, intuitive and illogical than men. I’m not so sure that is true since I know women that fall on both ends of that arguement. The bigger question is how can women as followers of Jesus use the gift that are emotions in the way God intended?
The simplest way to look at this is have the faith and trust in our Savior that enables us to focus on the positive things in life. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8).
To accomplish that we must first identify the source of negative emotions. Proverbs 23:7 reminds us of a simple but powerful truth, “For as a man thinks, so is he.” Negative emotions can grow amidst our daily challenges, trials and tribulations either past or present, or hurt and rejection. We need to identify the source of these emotions or feelings if we are to eliminate them.
The next step is to learn to manage emotions. It is not enough to acknowledge their presence. We need to take action. Without action those emotions may go underground for awhile, but they will return more often than not. To accomplish that, our prayer should be the same as the psalmist, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).
Our success in handling our emotions depends on who holds our reins. We must constantly choose to surrender every emotion to God’s control. And when we do, the Holy Spirit empowers that choice, produces control and transforms our emotional baggage into something positive. People are always watching us to see how we will react when life pushes our buttons or squeezes our emotions. While God created us with the capacity for emotions, it is our responsibility to control them instead of allowing them to control us so people can see Christ through us. Daily life provides the opportunity for countless emotional withdrawals that are good, right and ordained by God. We choose where to invest every ounce of emotional energy we possess.
Prayer, solitude, Bible study, friendships, service, accountability and a guarded thought life are just a few of the deposits that can make the difference in managing our emotions. Paul says it well, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). In other words, we simply need to do what God has called us to do.
From my experience wild swings in emotions arise when we are operating in our own strength, doing our “own thing” instead of wholly depending upon God and living in His will. When we abandon all that we are to His strength, purpose and power, the Father deposits everything we need to accomplish every good work He created us to do.
And emotions become a beautiful gift for His purpose.