It is time (finally) to pick back up in the Trigger series. In case you are new (or in the likely and totally understandable event that you cannot remember what I wrote about five months ago), let me get you up to speed on what exactly we are talking about.
Have you ever been doing just fine in your walk on freedom only to suddenly find yourself knocked over by failure? One moment you are doing fine, even better than fine- you are doing great. By the end of the day, though, you have fallen and fallen hard. What is worse is you do not even seem to care.
How did that happen? What makes some days harder than others or some temptations easier to resist than others?
I can sit in a car alone with a man and not even think twice about it, but smelling a certain lotion can start a battle. Why?
Well, the answer is triggers. We all have different triggers, and I break them down into four different areas: triggers of the soul, triggers of the heart, triggers of the mind, triggers of your strength.
Right now, we are talking about triggers of the heart.
[Tweet “We cannot go through life a slave to our emotions any more than we can a slave to sin.”]
When I talk about triggers of the heart, I am talking about emotions. Ladies, let’s be honest with ourselves here, emotions can get us bad.
Forget about hormones for a minutes, because those are bad enough. We are raised to be emotionally unstable and insecure, have you ever realized that? Especially when it comes to matters like love.
We watch fairy tales that talk about wishes, and dreams, and hopes. We are the innocent nobodies with a whole big bad world out to hurt us. Then Prince Charming comes in and everything is perfect. He is so romantic and we just feel warm and fuzzy. He beats the mean bad guy/queen/dragon/spell/sea witch. Then off into the sunset we ride in pure romantic bliss. Happily. ever. after.
Or we are told to be terrified of our emotions in the name of waiting on God. We are not to desire anything, only hope in God.
This is another blog post for another time, but if I see one more post that tells single women that God is their husband, I might just rip my hair out. No, he is not. Stop patronizing us. …Moving on.
So, we either live in this hyperemotive (I am pretty sure I just made that up) reality or a hypoemotive (definitely just made that one up) reality.
More often than not, our hearts are pinballing between the two. We get super happy, and then come crashing down. Up. Down. Up. Down. It is not always in matters of love. Sometimes, it is just matters of life.
It is exhausting, and it is exhausting because it is wrong. This whole oscillating instability is not what we are made for, and that is why we struggle with it so much.
We want to escape it, but we should be wanting to eradicate it altogether.
We do not need to learn to ‘cope’ with our emotions as if they are some external force outside of our control. We need to learn to control them, and we can!
[Tweet “Lust never gets rid of any problem; it just helps you not fix it.”]
Think about that for a minute. Many of you just went through finals week. Finals are stressful. I know. I have been there, and from the late night cramming sessions to the greasy cheese pizza, it is just not a bright shining moment for many of us.
We are stressed. We are tired. We are frustrated.
In those moments, you might be tempted to think, “I just need release.” Well, masturbation is a quick form of release. Take care of that, feel better about yourself, and go right back to studying.
But that does not actually solve the problem. It does not steady our hearts at all, and that is what we really want, we want steady hearts. We cannot go through life a slave to our emotions any more than we can go through life a slave to sin.
Stabilizing Your Heart
I seriously could write a book on this topic of emotional triggers and the importance of emotional stability, but let me just offer five key ‘steps’ if you will on how to steady your heart:
1. Identify What “Gets” You.
For me it is stress (read: frustration) and when I feel sick. Not just “ouch I have a headache” sick, but the stay-in-bed-sleep-all-day-cannot-think-straight-hit-by-a-truck sick. Some women find their weakness to be frustration.
It does not have to be a negative emotion either. Sometimes moments of sheer joy can turn us on. We get excited about something and life is good, so then we think, “Why not?”
Take a look at the last few times you have fallen, is there a pattern of emotions and/or beliefs that brought you there?
2. Eliminate The Source(s), If You Can.
If there is something external that seems to be influencing those inner emotions, eliminate it if possible. Obviously, there are some things that we cannot eliminate. Do not print this off and take this to your college professor as an excuse to skip your finals. Also, if your ‘weak’ emotion is a positive one, like joy, I am not advising you to become purposefully the most pessimistic and depressing person on the planet.
However, in the case a negative external influence throwing off the balance of your heart, get rid of that influence. For instance, maybe listening to a certain song or style of music tends to make you angry or tends to make you feel depressed. Maybe you just cannot handle the relationship with the boyfriend right now, or maybe leading 15 different ministries at church is just not a good choice. Eliminate the sources if you can.
3. Be Aware of Your Weakness.
Emotions are a part of who we are. They are not a bad thing at all. It is not bad to experience joy, sorrow, fear, peace, frustration, confusion, love, pain, etc. They are part of the human experience. They are even part of the experience of Christ. He was angry. He was sorrowful. He was joyful. He was burdened. He was moved with compassion. He was firm.
We are not robots and God never asks us to be. What is important is that we understand our tendencies. I am a bit like a “Martha” so I tend toward stress. It is my weakness, and will likely always be. I need to be aware of that, just like you need to be aware of yours.
4. Stay on Base.
One of the things that is so detrimental with having an ‘unstable’ heart is that there is no baseline. There is no normal. We are either really happy or fired up. We are either hopeful or depressed. In love or hating the world.
We need a middle ground. We need an anchor. We need a focus point that exists outside of our circumstances.
If you know me at all, you know where I am going with this.
We need to keep the ‘eyes’ of our heart focused on Christ.
Circumstances are what they are. They can be painful, stressful, joyful, hopeful, exciting(ful), and fearful. Circumstances can be those things. Our God, though, is unchanging.
What if being happy is a problem for me?
It is true. Sometimes positive emotions can be a struggle. It is like that feeling of euphoria after a workout that makes you excuse eating the chocolate cake. Everything just feels good. Anything feels right.
Even in those moments, it is still important to keep your eyes focused on Christ. Yes, He is joy, and there is freedom and hope and wholeness and healing found in Him. We run into trouble when we just focus on the joy, freedom, hope, and healing, and forget that it came from Him.
If we keep Him in focus, even our positive emotions would be tempered by the reality of Him.
Having emotions is part of our nature as humans. They are not bad, and do not need to be mistrusted or demonized. They can be good, holy, and healthy. They can be points of weakness for us though. When that is the case, it is ever more important for us to focus our eyes on our Freedom and find our feet on solid ground.
Recommended Read: Sexual Sanity for Women by Harvest USA