But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Do you ever wonder why Jesus had to go off to talk to God? I mean, he WAS God, right? Yes, but he was also human. That means that he got just as frustrated with people and felt just as used, misunderstood, and taken advantage of as we do at times. In fact, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in all the ways that we are but did not sin (Hebrews 4:16). That includes being tempted to be unkind, impatient, harsh, and just plain fed-up! I think part of the reason he didn’t sin is because he went off by himself to talk to his Father. I also think he needed to be by himself to catch his breath, get a grip, and gain some perspective to better love the people surrounding him.
I tend to have a short fuse when I am frustrated by other people’s inability to understand a concept that I think should be common sense, whatever that might be these days! This can be the activating event. It takes me a little while to get around to the idea that this is not a personal response to me. In fact, it seldom is about me at all. I just think it is because (I hate to admit it, but it’s true) I am, after all, the center of my world! Unless I give myself a time-out, where I can create some space and figure out where my negative emotions are coming from, I do not respond well. I don’t want to eliminate my emotion—that’s not healthy. But I do need to evaluate it to determine if it’s valid. That’s what I need to do so that I can give the response that will honor God.
It is OK to be sad or anxious during times that are sad or foreboding. However, is there a false recurring belief that keeps coming up? If so, it is usually not the situation that is driving the emotion. It is a belief.
If that is true, then the activating event isn’t the cause of the emotion. The false interpretation of it, or the false belief, is.
A major indicator of false beliefs is when we generalize. An activating event occurs (facts), and we find ourselves saying things like “always” or “never.” We generalize: “No one ever likes me. My ideas are never good enough. He always ignores my contributions.”
It is important to evaluate our beliefs and ask God to help us in the process.
Often when we evaluate our emotions, we want to validate them. For this reason, it may be a good idea to have conversations with authentic friends who may not be as emotionally invested in the situation. They can help you see something that you are missing and help you process things a little differently.
What do you do when you find yourself ramping up to an emotional response to an activating event?
Do you have someone you trust to talk you down off the ledge?
Develop a strategy for the next time you respond emotionally to an activating event. Pray. Count backward from 10, or 100. Call a friend. Take several deep breaths. Walk away. Have a plan that you create ahead of time, so you can implement it when the time comes.
My Lord Jesus, your loving response to the difficult people in your life inspires me to want to be better at this. Please give me a heart of compassion and a desire to understand the reasons other people behave as they do. Help me to be curious about others’ points of view and to take the focus off of myself and onto them, and you. Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.
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