“Your feelings are neither right or wrong. They just are!” Has someone ever said this to you?
They can be comforting words to me when I’m in the middle of feeling bad about feeling bad for what I feel. But my negative raw emotions are NEVER a landing spot. They’re usually a launching pad that with high velocity propels my unglued self somewhere.
In Chapter 4 this week, Lysa helps us to identify how our unfiltered and unchecked emotions can ooze out of us and onto others causing unnecessary damage. We were given the option of identifying what type of Unglued we can become. Are we an Exploder or Stuffer? Are we both based on the scenario and people surrounding it?
For me, I can be an Exploder with people that I feel really close to…specifically my husband who vowed before God and man that he had to love me till death do us part. My kids have experienced it too and I find I escalate on them much easier than I would a friend. However, at my core I’m a Stuffer that builds barriers. And when I am not in an emotionally healthy place, I’m tempted to run to that response. This is what it looks like for me…
I have a safe zone in life. It’s called my Bunker. It’s the place I go when I feel the need to self protect. It’s my refuge when I’ve finally had enough of someone or something. If I’ve been hurt badly or repeatedly it’s where I go to hide to heal. It’s a lonely place but it’s what I know. I control who and what comes in and out. It’s where I decide not to be found. Here, I process and stew over my raw emotions which leads to mini explosions inside of me. Sadly, I have the shrapnel scars to prove it!
I know this Bunker Mentality is incredibly unhealthy, but it served a purpose for me in years past when I should have been protected but wasn’t. I got good at being my own line of defense and in doing so, I crowded out my Defender and others!
Introspection and doing the hard work of being real with ourselves is challenging and painfully convicting at times but a necessary inward investment if we want to grow in emotional and spiritual maturity. We don’t do this alone! I love how this chapter leads us to identify what’s going on inside so we can bring it under the healing authority of Jesus where there is truth.
Knowing where our raw emotions take us is vital but will be in vain if we don’t also identify from where they’ve come. Look at these passages of scripture…
“You desire honesty from my heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.” Psalm 52:6
“Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24
It deeply matters to God what we think and how we respond. He desires real, unabashed, naked honesty from within us.
Recently, God spoke to me through the most unusual circumstance to drive this truth deep inside. I was carrying a load of laundry into my garage and I tripped over my sons baseball gear he had so carelessly thrown in there the night before. After I caught my balance, I spewed out some frustrated comments loudly into the atmosphere. I put the clothes in the washer and was in awe of what I saw as I turned around. It shouldn’t have surprised me. I’m in the garage multiple times a day, but this day was different. My garage was an absolute disaster! It was filled with trash, bags of clothes to donate, broken furniture, piles of books from 15 years of homeschooling, old bed frames, Christmas decorations that didn’t quite make it in a storage container, dozens of blankets, old toys and legos that hadn’t been played with in years, boxes of 23 years of life with my husband and kids, but mostly clutter…clutter…and more more clutter!
I stood there all alone and yelled, “How did my garage get like this? It used to be such an organized and functional space! What happened?”
It was in that moment I heard God speak to me…
“Your heart gets like this sometimes. Ignored. Dirty. Overwhelmed. And definitely cluttered. You store things in there that you say you’ll clean out later, but you don’t come back. You hold onto stuff you think you need because it reminds you of the past, but it’s a new season and time to let that go. There are boxes filled with doubts, disappointments and dreams unfulfilled. So many boxes. I want to abundantly give to you new gifts and treasures but your heart can’t fit one more thing.”
It’s amazing what God uses to get our attention! I’d become a heart hoarder and I didn’t even know it. Like my garage, I’d kept shoving, piling and stacking up on the inside. And just like a garage door sensor goes off when the space is overflowing, I explode or run to my bunker when something deep in me gets triggered. My raw emotions come out of an unclean and overstuffed heart.
In this, I’m learning that I always have a choice when my negative feelings rise up that try to enslave me. I can run to my bunker where my voice is the only one that reverberates off the walls of self protection I’ve built, OR…I can run to the God of protection. He’s my hiding place and help in time of need. I can ask him to steady me and reveal truth into any situation. He knows and sees every nook and cranny and still unconditionally loves. And in this second choice I grow in the discipline of responding with emotional and spiritual maturity!
There was no condemnation or shame from God in my messy garage moment. Only grace and invitation. He extends that to all of us. So, here’s the question I’d like to ask you,
If our raw emotions take us to a destination containing baggage from a place we’ve already traveled what are you carrying around that God is asking you to release?
Before you answer that, perhaps pray this first…
“Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey You.” Psalm 51:10-12
What is the condition of your heart today? As you begin to pray this scripture over your life I believe wholeheartedly that God will begin the cleaning, renewing and restoring! Would you open up the door and welcome Him in? He has so much to give to you! Are you ready and willing to make the necessary room to receive it?
Let the cleaning begin!
As we do the hard work of introspection and grow in being real with ourselves, that will always lead us into being real with God and others. Here are a few questions to help you process.
- Is my heart a hospitable place for Jesus or has it become cluttered and unwelcoming?
- What am I hoarding in my heart that needs to be cleaned out, renewed or restored by HIm?
- Who am I willing to be real with this week regarding my emotions and the condition of my heart?