It seems to me, our society is growing all the more emotionally charged with each passing day. Social media, the news media, even our private conversations are often fueled by threadbare emotions. Rage, Frustration, Happiness, Fear, and the rest all seem to have been elevated from mere feelings to a new form of addiction.
Emotions are a gift. But when left unchecked they will ever so subtly morph into something else, something sinister, something destructive, something which robs us of the human experience, assumes our identity, and leads us into utter bondage.
Emotions run the gamut of the human condition from happiness and pleasure, to anger and sadness, and everyone of them are gifted to us for a purpose. For example, pleasure is a gift God gives us to enjoy this life. After the fall of man, its counterpart pain, was gifted to humanity as well to warn us that something was wrong. While emotions are a gift from God, there is also an adversary who seeks to distract us from the true nature of these gifts in an effort to destroy us.
Destruction is never distraction’s clear destination, if it were we would all steer clear of it. Instead it is the enemy’s subtle, seemingly inconsequential shifts that – if not corrected – will lead us far off course.
Take for example grief. Grief is an emotion that we experience during a time of loss.
However, grief with just the slightest tweak can easily morph into false-guilt. Guilt, another emotion, is designed to lead us to repentance, but false or unresolved guilt can make us vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation.
Happiness, which was mentioned earlier, is an emotion we recognize as something good. Happiness is often mistaken for joy. However, joy is a state of being and is not directly tied to our circumstances, while happiness is and emotional byproduct of our circumstances. One sure way to never be happy, however is to make happiness our primary focus. And, as with guilt, when happiness is our goal we become vulnerable to manipulation, as our exuberance is short lived and disappointment seems to follow us wherever we go.
So how do we re-shift our focus and center our gaze on that which will bring joy, peace, and a sense of purpose in the midst of the storm? How do we detox from the addiction to our emotions? I believe it begins with stillness. The voice that shouts the loudest is seldom that of truth, and our emotions scream! God spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:9-18) and I believe He speaks the same way to us, like a loving parent who desires to still the heart of their child.
His voice is so still in fact that it seems we have to strain to hear it while we are looking full in His face, concentrating so completely that all the chaos around us is drowned out in the calm stillness of God. Then, we can hear clearly His call, we can rest calmly in His presence, and we can point others to this same hope and the peace which they too are longing for.