Having lived with anger, anxiety, and depression for several years, I wouldn’t want anyone to be continually experiencing those negative emotions. There are more negative emotions that rob us of the joy we desire to have for ourselves, for our families, and for those with whom we are in contact. Grief is one of those emotions if it is not properly worked through. Grief started out our discussion of dealing with unwanted feelings through this e-mail:
I woke up hurting and aching about the adoption this morning, and the feeling never left. Seeking HIM and seeking the peace and clarity that only HE can give.
Could you please pray for me to find my comfort in Christ? And to trust HIM. If you have time, could you please send me a Scripture that brings you comfort in times of loss? I will meditate on it. Amy
The first two articles in this series can be found here. If you haven’t read those articles, I encourage you to do so because those points are critical to our success. We began with the importance of crying out to the Lord Jesus for His grace and strength in our weakness, including asking others to pray for us. Then we moved into the arena of our thoughts and being thankful rather than focused on what is causing the negative feelings. We also saw the importance of using Scripture to help us.
Let me give you a personal example. Right now I am in the midst of a season of life that is probably very different from most of you, but one you will likely face in the future. I am helping my mom take care of my father, whose health is quickly failing. Each morning I go just around the corner from my house to their house to spend the next half hour getting him out of bed, cleaned up, dressed, and into his recliner chair for breakfast.
As I arrive at their house, I have a choice concerning my thoughts. I can think, “Lord, this is too hard. I don’t want to have to do this. It is depressing to see my dad in this condition.” On the other hand I can have thoughts like the following: “Thank You, Lord, that I live close to my parents, so I can help in their time of need. Lord, help me to lighten their load and make this time a little easier and happier for them. Lord, allow me to show love no matter what task I am faced with doing. Lord, let me never make them feel like a burden. Help me bring a bit of sunshine and joy into their lives this morning with a happy smile and uplifting conversation.”
There is a huge difference in the outcome of those two scenarios but only one difference in what was done. The difference was what I did with my thoughts. Here is a verse I share with you so often in Mom’s Corners. Read it, memorize it, and use it often because it is an integral part of walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
When I allow the “poor me” thoughts, I am giving in to myself—to my flesh. However when I take the thoughts captive and bring them into the captivity of Christ, I gain His grace that allows me to walk in the Spirit and have the fruit of the Spirit that comes with it. This is true for my mornings with my parents, and it is the same for my friend, Amy. As long as she thinks about her loss, how sad it makes her, how devastating it is for her, her empty arms—she simply feels sadder and sadder. However, when she takes the thoughts captive and begins to concentrate on resting in God’s will in her life, trusting her husband’s decisions, thanking God for the children already given to her and other blessings in her life, and rejoicing in the happy reunion with her baby in heaven one day, then the sadness will be replaced by peace and joy.
I would also encourage you to get up and get busy when you have unwanted feelings. If you sit and think about them, they have a way of multiplying and entrenching themselves more firmly. Sometimes that ends up with unwanted actions that accompany the unwanted feelings—an outcome we most certainly would like to avoid. We just finished a series, Lazy to Self-Disciplined on moving from laziness to self-discipline. There will be some good hints if you reread those articles that would motivate you to choose to do something when it would be best for you to be active.
I firmly believe that having a schedule allows us to avoid many unwanted feelings and to deal with the ones that come. The productivity of life with a schedule removes the negative emotions like stress, frustration, and feeling overwhelmed that often arise when we are behind on the tasks that need to be accomplished in our lives. The harmony of sweeter relationships achieved by a family on a schedule, lets us avoid the anger, worry, and bitterness that we feel when our children are bickering, unruly, and disobedient. The direction of a schedule will keep us moving when sadness overwhelms, anxiety consumes, or depression despairs. If you could use help with scheduling, I suggest Managers of Their Homes because in that book, I teach you how to make and utilize a schedule.
I hope that the next time you find yourself flooded with unwanted feelings you will immediately begin to pray. Then take your thoughts captive by being grateful rather than sad, content rather than angry, or trusting rather than worried. Use Scripture to help you with that process. Also do something to take your mind off of what caused the feelings and the feelings themselves. I think you will be very excited! Share your success stories with me. I have a couple of examples I would like to give you next month. Maybe you will have more for me.