Every day, we are faced with a decision: Will we respond to life's circumstances according to God's Word or will we react emotionally? The initial temptation is to react emotionally, but in every circumstance, it's truly your decision.
Let's examine three circumstances you're going to have to face at some point in your life. I've also included some questions to ask yourself, which I encourage you to answer honestly. They will give you a good idea of how big a part your feelings play in these circumstances.
Circumstance #1: Change
Everything changes except God, and letting all the changes in our lives upset us won't keep them from occurring. People change, circumstances change, our bodies change, our desires and passions change.
Most changes take place without our permission. But we can choose to adapt. Adapting doesn't change the circumstances, but it does keep you living in peace and joy as you go through change.
First Things FirstOur thoughts are the first thing we need to deal with during change because thoughts directly affect emotions. When circumstances change, make the transition mentally, and your emotions will be a lot easier to manage. If something changes that you are not ready for and did not choose, you will more than likely have a variety of emotions about it.
The Power of God's WordEmotions rise up and then move out, wanting us to follow them. When I feel that, I know I need to take action.
By acting on God's Word and not merely reacting to the situation, you'll be able to manage your emotions instead of allowing them to manage you. I strongly recommend confessing the Word of God out loud. Even though what you confess may be the opposite of how you feel, keep doing it. God's Word has inherent power to change our feelings, bring comfort to us, and quiet our distraught emotions.
Ask YourselfHow do I respond to change?
Do I act on God's Word or merely react to the situation?
After the initial shock, am I willing to make a transition mentally and emotionally?
Circumstance #2: Waiting
If you have not developed patience, then having to wait may bring out the worst in you. At least that was the case with me until I finally realized my emotional reactions were not making things go any faster.
We would all like to be patient, but we don't want to develop patience because that means behaving well while we are not getting what we want. And that's hard!
The Road to PeacefulnessThe more we want something, the more our emotions will act up if we do not get it. Common sense tells us it is rather foolish to get into a rage over a parking space or other simple things people tend to get upset about. As you develop patience, don't merely think about how hard and frustrating it is, think about how peaceful you will be when waiting never bothers you (see James 1:4).
Ask YourselfHow do I behave when I have to wait?
What situations are difficult for me?
How do I act when I'm working with someone who is really slow?
How do I act if someone takes the parking space I've been waiting for?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do I handle myself when things don't go my way?
Circumstance #3: Difficult People
No one likes being around difficult people. I think there are a lot of people in the world like that today, largely because of the stressful lives most of them have. People are trying to do too much in too little time and have more responsibility than they can realistically handle.
When someone is rude to me, I can feel my emotions rise up and then move out, wanting me to follow them. That's when I know I need to take action. I have to remember that the person being rude probably has a lot of problems. She may not even realize how she sounds.
Working with the Holy Spirit
I certainly remember lots of times in my life when people asked me why I was being so harsh. I didn't realize that I was. I just had a lot going on and felt pressured, so the pressure came through in harsh voice tones. That didn't excuse my bad behavior, but it was the root of the problem.
I am very thankful I know the Word of God and have Him in my life to help and comfort me. But a lot of difficult people don't have that. I have had to work very hard with the Holy Spirit for the ability to act on God's Word when people are rude…instead of merely reacting with a behavior that matches or tops theirs.
Jesus teaches us how to respond to those who treat us well and those who do not (see Luke 6:32-35).
If you are in a situation that requires you to be with one of these hard-to-get-along-with people every day, I urge you to pray for them instead of reacting emotionally to them. Our prayers open a door for God to work through.
How do I react to people who are rude?
Do I respond in love as the Word says we should, or do I join them in their ungodly behavior?
Will I act on the Word of God and love them for His sake? Or will I react emotionally, perhaps acting worse than they act?
Have I ever let a rude person ruin my day?
Live Beyond Your Feelings
Feelings will come and go. We can't escape them, but we can choose to live by God's Word and not our feelings. Even when it doesn't feel right, we can live with an incredible peace and joy. I encourage you to go through the questions again and search God's Word in every circumstance you face. He will help you live beyond your feelings!