Emotions are ambiguous, but a powerful part of our design. They can feel almost tangible, and sometimes overwhelming and have even been known to effect changes in our physiology. They largely tend to rule, or at least heavily influence, our decision making on a regular basis. Although this is commonly accepted as being normal, this isn’t how God designed us to function. We are meant to make choices based on what we believe, not what we feel.
The hierarchy of God’s design is that our beliefs decide our attitudes and our attitudes shape our perceptions which in turn determine how we feel. However, in this world, we often allow our feelings rather than the truth of God, to become the basis of our decision making. Our emotions usurp truth and its rightful supremacy in our lives. When we twist the designated order like this and allow our feelings to govern our attitudes they inevitably warp what we believe, distorting our perceptions of the world and cause us needless suffering.
Emotions are important because they add nuance and fullness, vividness really, to life, similar to adding color to a black and white photograph. Because they’re a natural consequence of our perceptions, they’re also quite useful as a sort of “check attitude” light indicating when our view of truth is being clouded or twisted. Even so, our feelings are not meant to be a standard from which we judge truth, because like the photo, the added color never changes the subject matter but only adds dimension to our experience of it. In other words, regardless of how we feel the truth never changes, therefore what we believe shouldn’t either.
Now I make no claim to have mastered my emotions or that I always make my decisions solely on the basis of truth. It’s true, sometimes I am overwhelmed by strong emotion and my attitude unfortunately changes to suit my feelings. I am definitely growing but I am not yet perfected. I also can’t speak to everyone else’s ability or situations. I only know that we weren’t designed to be ruled by emotion but to be masters over it and all things are possible with God for those who believe.
In light of this, more often I am choosing to let truth shape my attitude, choosing to cling to God and His word and not let how I feel sway me from it. Each time I succeed it gets marginally easier. Just like grains of sand being deposited on the shore by each subsequent wave forms a vast beach, so each successful occasion makes the next that much easier to overcome. More and more often, not I, but the wave is left spent and defeated.
This lesson has got to be at the top of my list of hardest to learn lessons but I am learning it and I know you can too. The next time your “check attitude” light comes on and you find yourself acting or thinking in a manner other than what God says is true, stop and take a minute. Slowly take a deep breath and let it out. Meditate on God and His promises and remind yourself of the history of His faithful hand in your life. Refresh yourself with the water of His word. Thank Him and speak its truth over your situation and then move forward. Let truth prevail.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us into the light and reveal the beauty of Your truth in the ambiance of Your presence. Thank you for the strength and ability to master the storm of our emotions through Your steadfast word. May we always run after, lean into, and cling to You, our Source of life, love, and liberty. We love you Abba Father. Thank You. In Your holy name, the name of Jesus, Amen.