Bitterness Destroys; Grace Heals – Mixed Emotions

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I used to work as an occupational therapist in a rehabilitation hospital—a setting where you see people at their worst. Most people were nice enough, but there were some who oozed bitterness and anger. You knew right when you walked into their rooms, and I dreaded those patients. They allowed their past hurts to shape their current realities and treated everyone around them with the same disdain and contempt, even though we had nothing to do with their past hurts.

Last weekend, we learned that anger is not bad. It’s an emotion that is telling us that something we value is being threatened. Anger is a continuum, with virtue on one side and vice on the other side. How we deal with our anger is where we demonstrate our wisdom or our sinfulness. It is easy to hold on to that hurt and feel like we have the right to be angry. We can rationalize anger as “righteous” even when it is sinful. Some of us have a short fuse and anger just bubbles up to the surface. However, when we hold onto bitterness or let anger rule our lives, those around us suffer. If we’re honest, we do too.

Hebrews 12:15
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

I have experienced that poisonous root of bitterness more often than I would like to admit. I have also experienced the opposite—patients who had terrible lives, yet exuded grace and humility. They had suffered, but being with them was a joy, and I left their rooms feeling blessed. So what is the difference? How can people respond in such dramatically different ways? I think James sums it up well:

James 4:6-7
6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

When we allow anger (virtue or vice) to remain unresolved, we allow the devil a foothold (Ephesisans 4:26-27) in our lives. This foothold leads to resentment and bitterness. Forgiveness and bitterness are on opposite ends of a spectrum. If we want freedom from bitterness, we must find a way to forgive. When it feels impossible, humbly coming before God and asking for strength is the only way. When we do this, the devil loses his hold on us. We find freedom and demonstrate to those around us the hope and grace found in Christ alone.

Questions:
When people are around you, what do they experience? Are you joyful or do people feel your bitterness?

Next Steps:
If you are dealing with unresolved anger or bitterness ask God to help you deal with those issues. The new Groups semester began this past weekend. Find a Group of like-minded individuals to work through your struggles.

Prayer:
Father, I come before you and humbly admit that my anger gets the best of me too often. I often hold on to my hurts to punish those who hurt me, yet I only end up hurting those I love and feeling miserable. I find ways to excuse my angry reactions and justify myself. I know this is not how you meant me to live. Forgive me for allowing the devil a foothold in my life. Give me the strength to resist him and cling to your love. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Mixed Emotions

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This summer, I worked as a preschool teacher. As you can imagine, I gained a lot of experience dealing with unregulated emotions. I quickly learned that young children have underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes and act on their emotions immediately. This is vice-based anger: they act out when they do not get what they want. If they don’t want to share, they throw the toy. If they don’t want to nap, they scream, cry, and protest. If they don’t get the snack that they want, when they want it, they unleash their anger and stomp away.

Unfortunately, as adults, we still often do this when we fail to get what we want. Even when we know it is healthier and more productive to acknowledge and reflect upon our anger, so many of us (myself included) still have emotional reactions, leading us to lash out internally or externally. When life does not go exactly as planned, sometimes, we even take our anger out on God. Therefore, it is so important to understand and handle our anger in a Christ-like way.

James 4:1-2
1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?  2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.

In this passage, James explains that so much of our anger comes from lacking the things that we want, no matter how trivial. He details the great lengths that people go to because of vice-based anger, which usually results in negative consequences for ourselves and for others.

The frustration and helplessness that often come with anger can make us feel like it is insurmountable on our own. Thankfully, we have a good God who knows our every need and wants what is best for us, even when we cannot see it. Let us take our anger to God and pray for him to help us let it go—use these opportunities to practice patience and self-control.

Last weekend, we received a mini science lesson on how the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of our brain) and the amygdala (the feeling part) work together to regulate our emotions. When the amygdala is activated through intense emotion, be it delight, fear, or anger, it quickly releases chemicals which dial down the potential for the prefrontal cortex to provide a thoughtful response. Left unchecked, this can lead to those raw and potentially irrational emotional responses.

Thankfully, we were given a trick to help prevent us from acting on our emotions, especially anger—simply take deep breaths. Taking deep breaths for 90 seconds gives the prefrontal cortex time to process the chemical reaction, allowing us to respond thoughtfully and logically to our emotions. Then, you will be in a state to address your anger in a level-headed way.

Questions:
What are some things that make you angry? Are they based on a virtue or a vice?

Has there been a time recently where you immediately acted on your anger without stepping back to think through it? What were the consequences of acting solely upon emotion?

Next Steps:
Identify ways that you can better control anger in your life. This week, keep track of the number of times that you get angry. Determine if it stemmed from vice or virtue.

Join a Group this upcoming semester. Seek out a group of people that you can trust and will hold you accountable in your everyday life.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the opportunity to better understand our emotions. You gave us emotions to allow us to feel and experience all aspects of our lives. Please help us to not let our emotions control us, and instead guide us to act upon them in a biblical and level-headed way. Please provide us with a godly community that can help us work through our anger and guide us to bring our anger before You. Help us to lay our anger at the foot of the cross and to let go of any resentment or hurt that unresolved anger has caused in our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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Virtuous Anger – Mixed Emotions

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Do you think it’s possible for anger to be a healthy emotion? Believe it or not, it can be. Last weekend, we continued our series, Mixed Emotions, by unpacking ANGER. We learned our anger is a signal, not a solution.

The healthy anger that I’m referring to is virtuous anger. The dictionary defines virtuous as “having or showing moral standards.” So, virtuous anger would be when someone with high morals or standards expresses their anger at the right time and in the right way.

John 2:15-17
15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

Many Jews had no way of bringing their own animals to the temple, so vendors provided a way to purchase proper sin atonements. Sacrificing sheep and cattle were part of worshiping God, so why did Jesus get angry? We need to ask ourselves a simple question: What was the problem?

The problem was not the merchants or money changers themselves but the fact that they were selling their wares inside the temple, in an area called the “Court of the Gentiles.” Because the Gentiles were restricted from other parts of the temple, this was the only place where they could pray. So by setting the market there, the Jews were no longer allowing a space for the Gentiles to worship. Jesus’ action showed that everyone mattered to God, not just the Jews. This story inspired our church’s mission to introduce all people to Jesus and the opportunity to know God.

As a redhead, people automatically assume that I have a flash temper and get easily angry, unlike Jesus’ intentional behavior at the Temple when he took the time to make a whip. He did not express his anger quickly; his actions were well thought out. His display was a virtuous anger for those who were being restricted from worship, not simply a show of violence.

Psalms 69:9
Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.

Anger is not always a bad thing but rather a signal that a value is being threatened. And if that threatened value needs to be protected and defended, the holy discontent and anger that wells up inside of us can be useful when it’s channeled into purposeful action.

Questions:
Do you ever get angry? Would you say that your anger is virtuous? Are you a wise person when it comes to anger? If not, how could you change your thought process to recognize the important signal of your anger?

Next Steps:
The next time you feel angry, try journaling about it. Recognize that your anger is a signal that you need to acknowledge and pay attention to. Work through why you’re angry and how to express your anger in a virtuous way.

The Groups’ directory is open, and the fall semester begins this week. Click on https://cedarcreek.tv/groups to find a Group that’s right for you.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for the emotion of anger. Grant me the wisdom to understand how to deal with my anger. Help me to take a deep breath and not overreact when I am angry. Thank you for the grace you extend to me every day. Thank you for sending Jesus to atone for my sins. It’s in his glorious name that I pray, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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Slow to Anger – Mixed Emotions

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I am consumed with anger more often than I like to admit. Sometimes, I stop, breathe, count to four, and … nope, I still feel like the Hulk and want to smash everything in sight.

Maybe that argument I was in last week is spilling over and something that was said or done is still eating at me. Was it truly addressed? Why is it still bugging me?

It is because I didn’t take it to God. I didn’t ask the Father for help to sort through the issues. Chances are high that it was my pride holding me back.

In the first week of our series, we were told to name the problem so we can get curious about it. I think the same rings true with anger. If we can name the anger—what caused it—it’s a step toward working through it.

I have found that if I stop, think, and pray for guidance to figure out why I’m angry, I can turn all the energy I am wasting on being mad toward getting curious. I’m able to look for the true source of my anger and reign in my overloaded amygdala that wants to rule my emotions and actions.

When I go to God with my problems, I slow down. When I talk to him, it helps me replay what happened—sort of like a journal.

James 1:19-20
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

How can we live this out to work through our arguments and difficult situations?

First, take a deep breath and acknowledge your anger.

Were you quick to listen? Did the person really say what you heard in that argument?

Were you slow to speak? Or were you quick to say something that you probably shouldn’t have?

Were you slow to get angry? Or did you let your emotions get the best of you? This is where I struggle the most, but as I learn to search for the source of my anger, it’s becoming easier to determine if it’s even worth the time to be dwelling on it.

Matthew 15:11
“It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”

Anger is an emotion that God knows about because he gave it to us. Once we’ve rationalized why we’re angry in the first place, we don’t have to stay angry. If you’ve been around CedarCreek for a while, you’ve probably heard: It’s ok to not be ok, but you don’t have to stay that way. Now, think about this in terms of anger:

It’s ok to be angry, but I don’t have to stay that way.

The next time you’re stewing over something, take a deep breath, acknowledge your anger, pray for guidance, and consider saying that out loud—it may be the “count to four” you need to prevent the Hulk from coming out.

Questions:
How do you slow yourself down when you feel your anger getting out of control? Do you talk it out with a friend, family member, or even a counselor?

Next Steps:
Breathe, count to four, pray for an answer to what made you angry. Seek help from a professional if need be—there is no shame in asking for help.

Prayer:
God, when I get angry, help me get back to the peaceful person you and I know I am. Help me guide others in finding ways to deal with their anger or misplaced emotions that lead to anger. Allow me to see whether or not the anger I feel at times is for the right reasons so that I can be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Tick Tock, Dude! – Mixed Emotions

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The weekend message began with a question: What is your pet peeve?

Well, I married mine!

How was I to know that my devotion to on-time arrival was not at the top, or even in the top 10, of my husband’s priorities? I had been a Jesus-follower for about 3 years when Mike and I got married. God had already done a lot of work to help me resolve some of my issues. However, at some time, I must have prayed for patience … because God has used my husband to teach me a lot about that!

As a couple, we have had some “heated fellowship” about this lack of timeliness. After 25 years of marriage, I have, with God’s help, decided to accept the things I cannot change. This decision has seriously reduced my level of anger and resentment. I have to admit, I am not always so sanguine about this, but—thanks to the Holy Spirit, books on my phone, and the confidence of knowing that we will get there eventually—I don’t usually blow a gasket!

As we learned, emotions deserve a seat at the table, but they don’t get to boss everyone around. Look at what Paul says in Romans:

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

I think about how God has used this scripture to help me recognize my role as a people pleaser. I think about how anger has influenced my reactions to the thwarting of my will! Is this a control issue? Umm, yep–I think so! My anger is a signal, not a solution.

I have learned that I need to acknowledge my anger, because something I value has been violated. But what is that value? My need to be on time? Is my angst all about me?

If we take the time to drill down into what is really going on, we’ll find the cause. It’s our responsibility to take that time—to own our anger and decide if that emotion is valid. To search whether the basis of our anger might actually be the result of our own issues, instead of someone else’s.

I have spent more time than I’d like to admit in resentment and bitterness. God has helped me realize that this is a lack of gratitude for his immense blessings in my life. Maybe one of the blessings of old age is having a greater sense of perspective.

Regardless of what has made you angry, it comes down to this: How important is it?

Grab onto this question now and work at bringing it to mind in that time between your initial angry reaction and the 90 seconds it takes for your sensible brain to kick back in. This perspective will save you much heartache in your relationships and prevent countless apologies to those who bear the brunt of your ire.

James 1:19
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

I write this verse in almost every wedding card I send. (Advice to myself!) God’s wisdom is the best! He is inviting you to think differently about your anger. Since he is always the smartest guy in the room, you should probably pay attention!

Questions:
Where is God inviting you to think differently about your anger? How can you put yourself in an environment where you are reminded of the grace God has extended to you?

Next Steps:
Join a Group, where people will come to know you and walk with you as you encounter shared issues.

Join our text-in campaign “60 Days to Better Mental Health” by texting “better” to 419-419-0707.  It runs through November 5.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there are times when anger is justified, but I realize that most of the times I get angry are not those times. Most of the time those bouts of anger are about me, because I’m not getting what I want. Lord, help me remove myself from this delusion and live in your truth. I am who you say I am. I don’t need to justify myself through my false anger over my offended feelings. You are the judge who judges justly. Let me rest in that truth. Please bring people into my life with whom I can be myself, who will know me and love me in spite of my crazy, often distorted emotions. Give them the courage to tell me the truth, and give me the courage to listen and act on that truth. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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God’s Unconditional Love – Mixed Emotions

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We kicked off a new series this week called, Mixed Emotions. The bottom line was emotions are a guess, not a guide.

I recently experienced a bunch of different emotions. Someone I dearly love told me something that really upset me. I felt hurt, angry, disappointed, and unloved.

I talked to my husband and a very close friend, and they both suggested I cool down before I discussed the issue any further with her. So, I waited a bit and tried to call her—she didn’t answer.

I prayed for wisdom on how to handle the situation.

A couple more days passed, and I decided to text her but had second thoughts. God was definitely trying to tell me something! I finally decided to put up walls, toss the ball back into her court, and stubbornly wait until she reached out to me. With emotions clouding my thinking, this plan seemed rational at the time.

A few days later, during my morning quiet time, I felt led to call a dear and wise Christian friend to discuss the situation. She took the time to point out how my emotions had gotten me off-track, how this choice to avoid my loved one could further damage our relationship. She reminded me about grace and loving people where they are at—that it wasn’t my job to change anyone. It was my job to love them, to accept them for who they are, and to pray for them. She gently reminded me that when my loved one finally reached out to me, I should be grateful. Because it would show I mattered to her.

And then I had an epiphany: I often don’t treat God how I want others to treat me. Instead, I frequently do what I want to do, without any consideration of God’s feelings about it. Sometimes I am just selfish, only caring about my wants and desires. Yet, God would never put up walls with me, like I had considered doing. I realized how much grace and love God continually shows me. He never tells me how badly I hurt him when I return to him. He just loves me where I am at, and he changes me for my good. I felt deeply humbled.

Romans 5:8
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God loves us so much that he sent his Son to die on the cross to save us from our sins. When we put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are rescued and no longer condemned for our sins. Instead, our relationship with God is restored, and we are loved and accepted as his children.

Romans 8:1
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

As we grow in our faith and truly accept God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, we learn to unconditionally love and forgive others.

1 John 4:19
We love each other because he loved us first.

Questions:
How do you handle tough emotions? What are effective ways you can deal with your emotions?

Next Steps:
Next time you have strong emotions: Take a deep breath. Pray. Seek wisdom from a wise Christian friend.

Prayer:
God you are so awesome. I praise you that you’re loving and full of grace. You wait patiently for us to return to you. You love us so much that you don’t want to just save us, you want to restore us. Help me to love others as you have loved me. Fill me with your grace and compassion. Change me Lord, I cannot do this on my own. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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Replace My Burden – Mixed Emotions

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My grandparents dreamed of retiring to Maryland; however, when my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, they stayed in Ohio to help raise us and take care of her. The decision was easy for them because good parents do what is necessary.

My mother tried to remain independent even as her body betrayed her spirit. But when life’s stresses started snatching our childhood, she placed herself in a nursing home. Her decision was meant to lighten our hearts and replace work with the freedom of life.

Matthew 11:29-30
29 “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

We learned from the weekend message that Jesus doesn’t only take the problem away, he teaches us to see things differently. Jesus changes the way we see and live our lives. Walking in God’s light replaces our weariness with rest and our burden with his yoke.

What does that mean? A “yoke” is that heavy, wooden harness between a pair of oxen, allowing them to work together to pull a load. Jesus is offering to share our burdens. He wants to team up with us. His yoke—a new way to live and view the world—is easy to bear and fits us well. It brings us rest.

Jesus teaches that our problems don’t disappear like Thanos snapping his fingers. My Marvel friends know what I mean. However, teaming up with God makes things easier to handle. My grandparents improved my mother’s last years because they teamed up with her for her fight, giving her the strength to teach us about true love and sacrifice.

And when the time came, Jesus provided me with the fortitude and wisdom I needed to tell my mother to let go and finally rest.

Questions:
What do you do when the burden of life tires you out? Do you attempt to ignore or hide your stress?

Next Steps:
Stop living life alone by joining a Group. Pray and find strength in God’s promises to aid and guide you through your troubles.

Prayer:
Lord, grant me patience when I am anxious. Give me rest when I am too stressed to make proper decisions. Teach me how to let go of the problems that are too big to handle, and allow me to learn how to see the lessons within those problems. I am grateful for the love you give. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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What’s in a Name? – Mixed Emotions

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Name your problem. That is the first step to solving whatever is getting to your emotions.

It can’t be that simple, can it?

Yes, it is!

Once something is named, you can begin to use its name to gain authority over it, to get curious and seek answers to overcome it. I for one have a tendency to let things get to me when I don’t know what it is or can’t control it. When I go to see my doctor and he orders tests—I do exactly what we’re warned against—I go home and look it up on the internet. And then, the unknown and my lack of control causes me even more distress!

Anxiety and depression—those are two names that I was given in a diagnosis. What I had been wrestling with, finally, had a name. Unfortunately, the diagnosis came before I began my life-changing adventure with Jesus, and I knew nothing of giving my burdens up for him to carry. I was in the state of mind that if I wanted something, I had to do it myself, or I had to earn it. I didn’t know what grace truly meant.

Matthew 11:28
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Once an issue or diagnosis is named, it definitely helps to narrow the focus and understand it more, but the issue doesn’t just disappear. Knowing my diagnosis certainly doesn’t prevent me from getting full-blown panic attacks when my fear gets the best of me.

In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul asked God to make his suffering disappear:

2 Corinthians 12:8-9
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

Just like the apostle Paul begged God, we too might find ourselves asking him to make the difficult things go away so we feel better. However, those hard times and difficult feelings offer us opportunities to grow closer to God—to trust him and give Christ the space to work through us for his glory.

Once I had a name for my panic attacks and knew they were caused by anxiety and fear of the unknown, I was able to get curious and look for ways to avoid them. Connecting with God, finding life-giving methods to reduce my stress, and making healthy changes have been helpful in managing my emotions.

Psalm 61:2-3
2From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, 3 for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.

By naming the problem; finding refuge in God through prayer, Bible study, and worship music; surrounding ourselves with life-giving people; and seeking any needed care, we can begin to think and live differently.

Questions:
What do you do when you get nervous about things you cannot control? Do you pray for God to take away your suffering, or do you ask him to help you find a name for it so you can start to understand the problem?

Next Steps:
Join a life-giving Group. They are such a blessing! Someone there might be going through the same thing you are. Read about what Jesus says to do with emotions, and trust him with what he says.

Spend some time journaling your emotions. It offers an opportunity to name them, get curious about them, and search for where they are coming from. (Plus, I have found that I can go back and see how I solved a past problem.)

Prayer:
God, allow me to name the problems that come my way so that I can ask for your help more specifically. Teach me how to comfort myself and others the way Jesus did. Help me learn to not expect the outcome I want but, rather, what you say I need. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Tame the Inner Toddler – Mixed Emotions

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This past Christmas was emotionally difficult for me. I was dealing with health struggles and feeling insecure about some relationships. … And I wanted a puppy—not one of those tiny little puppies that you can put in your handbag, a big one—a Bernese Mountain Dog.

As if homeschooling 5 children (ages 4 to 11), dealing with health struggles, and caring for my family was not enough, I wanted to add a new layer of chaos—a puppy! Well, when my best-laid plans were not falling into place like I wanted, my inner toddler came out. I am not proud of how I acted and the tears of frustration I shed, but there it is. It’s easy to get stuck and allow our emotions to dictate our behavior. Sometimes that inner toddler will not stay inside, and we find ourselves acting like a two-year old. Thankfully, we don’t have to allow our lives to be dictated by that inner tyrant.

This past weekend, we learned how our emotions are not a guide but a guess. When we encounter a situation, our reaction is a choice. We can react in a way that demonstrates maturity and trust or set the toddler free. Even in difficult situations, God has given us more control over our emotions than we realize.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

When we encounter a situation that sets our emotions rolling, we have a choice: We can allow ourselves to lose control, or we can demonstrate a maturity that can only be found in trusting God. He has given us the power to discipline ourselves, to react to difficult situations in a way that honors him and shows the world that we have been transformed.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

By allowing God to change the way we think about a situation and trusting him with the outcome, we demonstrate to the world that we have a great and powerful God. When we allow the Holy Spirit to take our emotions and shape them into something productive, we are a powerful witness to the world.

In case you are wondering about the puppy situation—we were able to adopt a mama dog at the beginning of February, and our new puppy was born earlier this month. In November, my husband and I will be the proud parents of five children and two giant dogs. Pray for us.

Questions:
When something does not go your way, how do you react? Do you get stuck in the cycle of big emotions and feel out of control? Have you ever considered that while your emotions are not bad, they do not need to control your behavior?

Next Steps:
The next time you feel your emotions rising to the surface, remember God has given you a spirit of self-discipline. Pray for strength to see the situation as it really is and not how it feels in the moment.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me feelings. They help me experience the highs and lows of life in a way that is distinctly human. They make me who I am and show me that I am made in your image. Thank you also for giving me the power to control them. Help me to remember that, in the midst of a difficult situation, I can call on you to help me react in a mature way. Help me to use my emotions in a way that draws others toward you. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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Get a grip! – Mixed Emotions

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This past weekend, we were introduced to our new series, Mixed Emotions. I love the way the stage was set for thinking about our emotions in different ways, primarily through the bottom line: Emotions are a guess, not a guide.

I grew up in a home that did not welcome emotional displays. We were always fine. There were no harsh words, no yelling, no profanity, but there was a lot of passive-aggressive behavior. My family members had repressed emotions—still do!

It took me years to discover how I actually felt about things, and I’m still not great about sharing those feelings. However, I have come to realize that once I identify my emotions, they can help me understand my reactions. Understanding my reactions helps me respond in the way I want to respond as a follower of Jesus, with love and compassion.

We learned in the message that our emotions are not hardwired. They are more of a gauge or an indication that something is going on and our brain is trying to make sense of it. However, without further information, the brain doesn’t always settle on the correct interpretation. That’s why God gives us an instruction that is critically important in these times.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (emphasis added)

2 Timothy 1:7 assures us that we are not helpless victims of our emotions:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

The good news is that if you let him, God will do the work! By his design we have received a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. Matthew 11:28-29 invites us to come to Jesus with our emotions.

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Without direction and help, our emotions can become heavy burdens that we don’t know how to handle. When we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, we can learn to channel our emotions into positive energy, which puts us in the center of God’s will—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Questions:
How do you feel? (Hint: Most likely, the answer is NOT fine!) Do you know? What do you do when your emotions overwhelm you? Are you happy with that behavior, or would you like to try something else?

Next Steps:
Write down some emotions that you are feeling about your current situation. Ask God to help you learn the truth about them. It may be helpful to share your thoughts about your emotions with a trusted friend and get their perspective.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of emotion! Thank you for the gratitude I feel at a beautiful sunset, the anger I feel at injustice, the joy I feel when I am with my crazy family, and the love that I feel for my husband. Help me learn how to use my emotions to celebrate all the beauty in your world and to be an instrument of your peace. Emotions are not my master; you are. Help me live in that truth today. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


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