So I started doing Beth Moore’s Psalms of Ascent study again–it’s my third time through. I actually really love using the same bible study book over and over. I use a different colored pen and date when I’m doing the study, so I can really see how what was stressful or important has changed. It gives me the sense that I’m growing, that life is moving forward.
Anyway! This morning I came across this little note that jogged my memory. It was about emotions and what’s on the other side. My example was fear of spiders–it’s a nice generic emotion, right? When you’re facing the fear, all you see is the fear itself–how gross or scary spiders are or maybe there’s something deeper, like some trauma you experienced as a child (e.g., in Harry Potter where Fred and George turn Ron’s teddy bear into a spider when he was young).
But what’s on the flip side of that? Spiders are actually a testament to God’s creativity and can be a reminder that God protects us all the time, that He’s sovereign and present. When you add in faith and love and surrender, there’s a whole different side to the fear–one that shows us more about who God is and who we are.
I believe that all the rest of our emotions are the same way. When I’m feeling overwhelmed without how busy I am, it can remind me to slow down and that God is really the scheduler of my day so there’s no point in freaking out.
I love the idea that we’re not just stuck with our emotions–that emotions exist to change us, to move us, to draw us closer to God, rather than to exist for themselves. It’s fascinating when you start studying the neurobiology of emotion and all the neural pathways and chemical composition of emotions. Every emotion does something to us on a physical level, but it also changes who we are and how we respond to a situation (both in the present and in the future). And once we allow the emotion to sweep through us and transform us, it goes away. This is incredible to me because I spent a good chunk of my life suppressing things over and over and over–shockingly enough, when you do that, the emotion never goes away.
So, challenge for the week: At some point, when we’re feeling something, let’s stop and think about what the other side of the emotion is. What does it tell us about who we are and who God is? And is that accurate or do we need to broaden the information our emotion is based on?