3 Steps to Emotional Clarity – Haunted

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The LivingItOut is created to provide daily inspiration to live out the life God has for you. We hope that it reminds you that you matter and helps you to live out that truth in your life.

As followers of Jesus, living out our faith and applying the things we learn from the weekend message, our Bible reading, and reflection is crucial to growing on our spiritual journey.

This is why one of my favorite books of the Bible is the book of James. It is packed full of verses that have a consistent focus on practical action, and it challenges us to apply God’s word to our everyday lives.

James 1:22-25
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

This weekend, Josh gave us some practical steps to help us live out the weekend message. These steps will help ensure that we don’t just nod in agreement with what we heard and then forget about it. They help us put into action the truths Josh shared from the Bible.

The first practical step is to identify the white noise in your life. Are there things that you are doing to drown out your unwanted emotions? This could be your phone, social media, television, alcohol, or several other things. Identifying your white noise is the first step to emotional clarity, allowing you to see and feel what’s really going on in your life.

The second practical step is to experiment with it. For example, if your white noise is your phone, turn it off or charge it in another room. When you feel the urge to get it, ask yourself why you feel like you need to. Whatever your white noise is, turn it down and reflect on the thoughts and needs that present themselves to you in the absence of noise.

The final step is to intentionally listen for what it’s masking. Not only is the white noise masking your unwanted emotions, but it is also masking the true answer to these emotions. That answer is God, who is merciful to forgive, powerful enough to fix, and caring enough to walk with you through anything. In your newfound quiet, listen for his voice and the truth that he has for you today.

Psalms 46:10a
“Be still, and know that I am God!”

Questions:
Josh called the things we do to drown out unwanted emotions white noise. What’s your white noise?

What unwanted emotion are you not dealing with today?

Once you have identified it, what is your next step to deal with it—before it deals with you?

This weekend is Halloweekend! Who can you invite?

Next Steps: 

  1. Identify the white noise in your life.
  2. Experiment with it.
  3. Intentionally listen for what it’s masking.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being a God of action. Please help me to be a person of action. Forgive me for the times I know what I need to do but don’t move. Today, allow me to apply the truths that I am learning about you and myself. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Swirling Thoughts – Haunted

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I don’t know about you, but I can be so stuck in my head sometimes that my thoughts swirl and I forget my existence for a moment. This happened to me a couple years ago—consequently, I almost hit something as I attempted to pull into Panera! I was stressing about some personal things, my thoughts started swirling, I zoned out, and all of a sudden, I’m veering off course and heading toward a small fence. Fortunately, I snapped out of it before it was too late.

Here’s the bottom line: Deal with your emotions before your emotions deal with you.

My story shows what can happen when you don’t address your emotions. I was letting my anxiety and stress get the best of me. Before I got behind the wheel, I should have taken the time to pray and address my emotions. It’s a very effective way to release my stress, or whatever I am feeling. It helps me find freedom from toxic thoughts and prevents me from getting stuck in my head.

Today, we’re going to look at how David dealt with his emotions through prayer. How he identified them and gave them to God. Prayer is a time when we can unmask how we are feeling and ask God to work in us, no matter what.

David wasn’t perfect, but he consistently lived a life of humility. God considered him “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). What’s amazing is that we get a picture of David and his prayer life. David was authentic in how he prayed. To release his emotions, he was honest about his heart.

Here are some examples of David’s Prayers:

Psalm 6:3
I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? 

He’s not faking. He’s telling God exactly how he feels—not because God doesn’t know, but because when we tell God, it also reveals to us how we feel.

Psalm 104:5
You placed the world on its foundations so it would never be moved.

David was praying for consistency when he felt uncertain.

Psalm 6:6
I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. 

He was saying, “I am sad and depressed.”

Psalm 17:8
Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. 

David was saying, “God, I don’t feel safe. I’m being attacked. Protect me.”

Do you feel this today? There is hope! When you pray, tell God what is on your heart. Say it out loud. Journal about it. Express it in the way you connect best with God. It is not easy, and it can be uncomfortable at first. But once you unload that weight, you will experience clarity. And hopefully, you’ll avoid crashing by freeing yourself of those swirling, toxic thoughts.

Questions:
When was the last time you became stuck in toxic thoughts? What happened?

What emotion do you struggle to release?

What holds you back from being authentic with God about your emotions?

Next Steps:
Here are a couple of journaling practices that you can try to release emotions:

  • Write a verse that resonates with you and pray about it.
  • Name your emotion and then tell God about it.

Take 5-10 minutes this week to sit in silence and solitude to pray.

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God I can be honest with and release my emotions to. It is not easy, God, but when I am real about my emotions, it keeps me from crashing when my toxic thoughts try to consume me. I want to deal with my emotions before they deal with me. I am taking this time to release my emotions and find freedom from toxic thoughts. David prayed that surely we will see your goodness while we are in the land of the living. I am looking to you, God, in the middle of whatever I am feeling today, to find your goodness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Emotions Run Amok – Haunted

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Last weekend, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow stepped into a message focusing on the “haunting” of emotions that have run amok. No doubt, more than a few of us could share in great detail a personal “horror” story of being on the receiving end of emotions run amok— possibly one that still haunts us at times. Looking through the lens of King Saul in 1 Samuel 18-31 illustrates how emotions that had run amok cost Saul his life, and the lives of others too. I am hard-pressed to think of anything sadder than that!

The story of Saul explains what happens when there is a failure to “deal with your emotions before your emotions deal with you,” as referenced by Josh in the weekend message.

1 Samuel 18:5
Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike.

Saul promoted David because of his successes. Yet in record time, extreme anger consumed King Saul based on the lyrics of a song that infuriated him: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Samuel 18:7). Jealousy came alongside that extreme anger to accomplish its mission—the eventual demise of Saul and others.

To be clear, anger did not need jealousy to accompany it in bringing down Saul. Anger, by itself, had the capacity to play havoc within Saul. But the stake of extreme anger ran much deeper within Saul’s soul when jealousy appeared. It is no different with us. It takes only one out-of-control, negative emotion to destroy someone. The irony is, we become its victim, too, via extremely bad behavior and/or embarrassing outbursts (whether or not there are witnesses to the crime committed).

For me, it takes zero effort for memories to surface that tell a variety of stories based on emotions run amok. The stories in my emotions-run-amok arsenal include both types—receiving and delivering. This is a case where it is more blessed to give than to receive, but neither is good—EVER!

Thankfully, managing our emotions is possible. Failing to invite God into the process is foolhardy! Some of my steps to recovery are self-awareness, identifying the triggers, owning the feelings, and forgiving others and myself.

It is never a waste of time to identify the reason(s) negative emotions erupt within us. While it has never been a pleasure to dig in the dirt of my emotional pain, I have never regretted having done so.  It is so worth the effort—for others and me.

Questions:
Do you struggle with acknowledging emotional problems those around you are on the receiving end of?

Do you suppress your emotions or deal with them?

Next Steps:
Step into RightNow Media to access online resources—Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Changes that Heal” and “Overcoming Emotions that Destroy,” by Chip Ingram.

Listen to the Focus on the Family Broadcast, “Controlling Anger So It Doesn’t Control You.” It is a two-part broadcast.

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/controlling-anger-so-it-doesn’t-control-you-part-1-of-2/

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/controlling-anger-so-it-doesnt-control-you-part-2-of-2/

Prayer:
Lord, empower me to better understand and manage my emotions. Guide me with your strength and your truth as I intentionally seek to identify and resolve past experiences that trigger me. I desire to grow in you and your purpose for my life. Thank you for generously offering grace and mercy each new day. It surpasses what I could ever expect or request. May I generously offer genuine grace and mercy to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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Be Here Now – Haunted

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Matthew 6:6 (NIV)
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow hit me where I live with his sermon last weekend. Since February 22, 2020, my life has been full of endless illnesses, deaths, losses, and increasing difficulties.

The presence of the one true God in my life is the one and only reason I am still functioning. He continues to hold my hand and guide me through this difficult time, and he provides all the answers.

Unfortunately, my husband and I had COVID-19 in December 2020 and continue to have a myriad of symptoms that won’t go away, the worst being brain fog and fatigue. It was then I became a heavy user of YouTube animal videos and began to spend a lot of time napping or fretting over the end of the world as I know it.

Josh talked about white noise—those distractions we interject into our lives to avoid a reality we have trouble coping with. That is exactly what I have been doing since last December. I am now a white noise addict to avoid facing my fears. I am addicted to podcasts and puppy videos. I’ve developed a pain in my left elbow and fingers from clutching my phone so often.

Thankfully, Josh also spoke about the practice of mindfulness or as it is known in the dojo, Be Here Now. But how do you put those distracting thoughts and behaviors away and find the peace of the presence of God that mindfulness brings? It’s not easy, but it is worth it. Beware! Your mind will fight you as you start this practice. But through the presence of the Holy Spirit, you will prevail, and it will change your life in ways you cannot imagine.

Go into your room, close the door, and set an alarm for 15 minutes the first few times you do this. Sit cross legged on the floor or in an armchair—but no slouching, shifting, or wiggling. Rest your hands in your lap, and close your eyes. Begin taking deep, slow breaths. Keep your eyes closed, and focus on your breathing, counting how many seconds you breathe in and then out. After 10 deep breaths, continue to breathe steadily, and focus your closed eyes in the direction of that space between your eyebrows.

If it hasn’t already happened, it will now: You will begin to itch or a hair will suddenly tickle your face or you’ll wonder if you let the dog out. The white noise will demand you stop what you’re doing and let it back in. Instead, gently refocus your mind and attention to that space between your eyebrows. Eventually, the external cues demanding your attention will fade away—the itch you refused to scratch, all those intrusive thoughts—gone. And as you steadily breathe and sit in stillness, you will become silent. At that moment, you will realize you are in the presence of God and are ready for prayer. It is a beautiful place to be, with the one who loves you most.

Psalm 118:19-21
19 Open for me the gates where the righteous enter, and I will go in and thank the Lord. 20 These gates lead to the presence of the Lord, and the godly enter there. 21 I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory!

Questions:
Do you want to be free to enter the presence of the Lord?

Are you willing to be uncomfortable to achieve his peace, which surpasses your understanding?

Next Steps:
Spending real time in the holy presence of God will change your life in unimaginably good ways. Prioritize this practice at least once a day, every day.

Prayer:
Dear, Lord, thank you for loving me when I still hated or simply ignored you as insignificant in my life. I’m so sorry, Lord, please guide me and guard me. Please draw me ever nearer to you and give me the strength and self-discipline to exercise mindfulness so that I can continue to seek you more every day. In the name of your Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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Be Still – Haunted

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Last weekend, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow spoke about dealing with unwanted emotions. He said some people cannot deal with silence, so they use white noise to mask unwanted sounds. In the same way, we often use white noise to mask unwanted emotions (e.g., fear, anger, boredom, anxiety, loneliness, inadequacy, and hurt).

Sometimes it is easier to suppress our emotions than to deal with them. What are some of the white noises we use to hide from our emotions? Facebook, Instagram, Apple TV, Netflix binging, fantasy football, exercising, shopping, reading, busyness, substance abuse, and eating.

Josh’s bottom line was: “Deal with your emotions before your emotions deal with you.”

If you don’t deal with your emotions, you become a slave to them. You will become filled with fear, anxiety, and worry. God doesn’t want us to suppress our emotions; he wants us to surrender them to him. He wants us to pour our hearts out to him so that he can heal us. He wants us to have a pure heart.

Matthew 5:8
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.

Hearts are not pure when they’re filled with anger and fear. Over time, these negative emotions will harden the heart, and prevent us from being loving and kind. But we can soften our hearts by being still with Jesus.

Job 6:24 (ESV)
“Teach me, and I will be silent: make me understand how I have gone astray.”

Being still or silent takes practice but can help us heal our hearts. Find a place that you love. My place is my family room. It is very cozy and filled with things that I love. I light candles, turn on my salt lamp and diffuser, and if it’s cold, I light my fireplace. I sit in a comfy recliner with a cup of tea beside me.

Put away your phone. Take a few deep breaths. If focusing is a problem, have some index cards with your favorite verses to meditate on. Read your Bible and pray. Ask God to help you deal with any unwanted emotions, and ask him to soften your heart. Pour your heart out to him and surrender your emotions. Be real and honest with him—he can handle it.

If the idea of stillness overwhelms you, start with five minutes. Pretty soon you will look forward to this time each day, and you will want to increase the time you spend with Jesus. It will be like having a cup of coffee with a dear friend. You won’t want the time to end. Spend time with Jesus, and he will heal your heart. He will fill you with his peace and joy.

Questions:
What emotions do you try to mask? How do you mask your emotions? How can you have a pure heart? Where can you go to be still?

Next steps:
The next time your emotions start to spin out of control, stop and take a deep breath. Pour out your heart to God, and ask him to help you understand your feelings. Surrender the emotions to him. Meditate on verses that touch your heart. Carve out time each day to spend quietly with God.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am overwhelmed that my Savior and Lord wants to spend time with me and heal my heart. Help me to make you a priority. Help me to have a pure heart. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along a path of everlasting life” (Psalm 139:23-24). Change me Lord and fill me with your love, peace, and joy. 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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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.


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