“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love means slowly losing your mind.” – Kevin Doyle (27 Dresses)
Hard decisions. Right decisions. Wrong choices. Worldly wishes. Godly desires. Hopes. Doubts: the “what if?” or “if only” moments. Passion. Anger. Disgust. Pride. Trust. Broken promises. Integrity. Shame. Joy. “On top of your game” days. Days that feel you’re going to shatter.
No, I’m not trying to write a “dark” version of a Dr. Seuss book. ::smiling in amusement::
So, this pattern above, sound familiar? Well duh! Everyone experiences all these broad range of emotions/attitudes – sometimes all in one day. Oh, emotions. What a beautiful thing that can so easily twist into something sinfully sinister. It’s so easy to say or write something in the heat of the moment. It’s natural. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been there too many times. Emotions stem from what is in your heart. Numbing them is not the solution because you haven’t dealt with the root issue: your heart. “…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34b). If you want to rule your emotions you must learn to rule your heart first; and golly, that takes a lifetime. I believe it’s called sanctification. Christ had emotions. In Matthew 5 he has compassion on the crowds. Shortest verse in the Bible: Jesus wept. He turned over the tax collectors’ tables.
It is a daily, moment by moment battle for me to fight to have godly emotions, a heart that desires the things of Christ and that portrays the fruits of the Spirit: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). How cool is that?! There is no law against those things. No limitations. You can’t do those things too much nor can you ever try too hard. Overwhelming those around you with those “fruits” is no crime, however they may despise, not understand them or even accept them.
On my 4 mile run the other night, while enjoying the feel of the cool autumn breeze caressing my skin, I succumbed to a 10 second pity party (well I’d been brooding for awhile actually), which I always try to correct with a self “pep” talk that sometimes doesn’t start off right. But I wanted to shut my mind up and said vindictively to myself, “I wish I could throw yesterday (meaning parts of my past) away.” I almost broke my pace in shock at my heart in that moment. Then I heard a soft tug and a voice in my soul saying, “Ah, dearest, precious daughter in whom I delight. Think about what you just said. Those “yesterdays” have shaped you and brought you to where you are today. Look at where you are. Take heart. Give thanks.” I nearly wept as I felt this release from this smothering burden of doubts, despair, anxiety slip away and replaced with such tenderness, hope, and peace, as if I’d been engulfed with a warm hug against the cool night air. I thought of 2 Corinthian 4: 6-7 (I dare you to look it up….and….GO). Then, of course, I sort of rebuked myself and said, “Rachel, you should know this. You were a history minor for crying out loud. You tell people all the time the importance of studying it because it has made us what we are today.” But that’s beside the point.
Before my parents left for Canada last Wednesday, my dad placed his copy of Knowing God by J.I. Packer on my little black desk. I picked it up on Thursday. The timing was perfect. I don’t know why I’m always delightfully surprised by that. God knew my soul needed to be both rebuked and encouraged; like a father who talks to his child before spanking them, tells them what they did wrong and why, and saying, “I love you and this is why I’m disciplining you.” Discipline versus wrath.
Here’s an excerpt from the book that stood out to me and prompted this blog post. I hope you are enriched by it:
Many of us would never naturally say that in the light of the knowledge of God, which we have come to enjoy, past disappointments and present heartbreaks, as the world counts heartbreaks, don’t matter. For the plain fact is that to most of us they do matter. We live with them as our “crosses” (so we call them). Constantly we find ourselves slipping into bitterness and apathy and gloom as we reflect on them, which we frequently do. The attitude we show to the world is a sort of dried-up stoicism, miles removed from the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” which Peter took for granted that his readers were displaying (1 Peter 1:8). “Poor souls,” our friends say of us, “how they’ve suffered.” And that is just what we feel about ourselves!
But these private mock heroics have no place at all in the minds of those who really know God. They never brood on might-have-beens; they never think of the things they have missed, only of what they have gained (Phil. 3:7-10).
Rachel B. Duke