Emotions can get in the way of a lot of things. Emotions can be useful when they are controlled and understood. Without this, they can sometimes get in the way of success. Simple things in life become difficult. Emotions can also prevent us from living the full Christian life and obeying God’s commandments.
Let’s take a look at a couple situations where emotions got in the way of success. These examples are both from my own life. Then, I’ll teach the lesson I learned to overcome emotions and put them in their proper place. Once I allowed truth and facts to precede and control my emotions, life became much easier.
I recently observed a young man practicing baseball. He was a great hitter. He made solid contact with the baseball on almost every decent pitch. As I observed his emotions, he seemed to be elated with his hitting performance. When he was experiencing positive emotions, he seemed to be on top of his game. The next time it was his turn up to bat for practice, his performance drastically declined. He missed almost every pitch. The bat would miss high and the bat would miss low. I could tell he was very angry and getting tired of missing. His anger seemed to distract him from hitting the ball.
It was almost hard to watch the young man struggle to hit the baseball. I could relate to his struggle. I used to have a similar experience on the golf course. My scores were frequently inconsistent from round to round. One day I would shoot just a couple shots over par, but the next I would have one bad hole and my entire round was ruined. After that one bad hole, I would stomp, pout, and even throw my clubs in anger. I would usually hit well over par for the rest of the round. Sometimes I would even quit. I practiced all the time. I knew I had the ability to have a solid score around par, but I never could sustain it. I never figured out why I could hit a perfect drive down the fairway one day and shank the ball every time the next.
As a Christian adult, the Lord gave me the wisdom to overcome this problem. The Holy Spirit taught me about truth and emotions. My problem was simple: I allowed my emotions to control my actions. This is out of God’s proper order. Truth or facts should always be acted on first. Then, emotions can follow and even give you the stimulus to get the job done.
Once I figured how to put this in action, I found that I would recover after a bad hole on the golf course. I stopped allowing my emotions to make the decisions and allowed the truth to lead. The truth was that I was a good golfer. Sometimes I had bad holes, but I could walk away from the bad hole and make pars again.
I saw this play out in my life when I played in a local golf tournament. In the championship round, I hit a poor drive off the first tee probably just because of nerves. I had a disappointing double bogey on the first hole, and I found myself already two shots behind. This time instead of getting angry or letting any emotion take the lead, I told myself that it was okay. I told myself that there were a lot of holes left, and I just needed to play each hole the best I could play. I focused on what was before me, and didn’t let my mind replay the first hole disaster. After the first hole, I parred all the holes. I even threw in a couple birdies. I never gave up and continued to strive for excellence. Standing on the final tee, I found myself at even par. The match was tied, so the final hole would likely determine the winner. I continued to allow the facts to lead my mind. I played the final hole as safe as possible. I set myself up for a putt for birdie, but knowing most likely I would make a par. As I stroked my final putt and heard the ball hit the bottom of the cup, I knew that my application of the truth over emotions gave me the victory. We did win the tournament that day. But, knowing this lesson fully in my heart, I would have counted it a victory either way.
For me, it seems like God teaches me things many times through physical things first. Then, he has me apply the teaching to the rest of my life. This was just beginning of God’s many teachings for me and it continues to this day. I was so reluctant to try new things or serve the Lord in any way. Now, I do not care because I trust God and I know he will protect me and provide for me.
Before, I had so much hesitancy to try anything new. It prevented me from serving God in any meaningful way in the past. I thought that I had to perform and I was always so concerned about failing. I was also afraid of looking inadequate or silly in the process. What it all came down to was very simple. Fear, unbelief, and negative emotions were controlling my actions instead of facts and truth. The greatest of these, of course, was fear. Beneath all my pouting, club throwing, and even lack of obedience to the Lord was simple fear.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” I John 4:18 NKJV
I was tormented by fear. But, now my faith and love for God and others has casted out this fear. I am now able to take action, and the action I take is actually easy! Behind it all, I know that God loves me very much. I know that if I mess up, he still accepts me completely. He gives me grace because I am willing to be obedient to his word and take action. He loves to give people grace who are obedient to his word and take action on it. Knowing these facts and acting boldly on this truth was life changing for me.
Let’s go back to the young man playing baseball. How do you think he could overcome his erratic baseball play? Or maybe, on a more personal level, how do you think you could overcome something in your own life that is now ruled improperly by emotions?
This blog was written by Natalie Bymaster, author of From the Cliff to the Cure: How Christians Can Boldly Overcome the Lies of Mental Illness. If you liked this content, make sure to check out her book.