Emotions operate on many levels. They affect our thoughts, our words, and our actions. If we don’t have control over our emotions, they can do damage to all aspects of our lives. Our emotions are one of four parts of our being. We have a spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical aspect to our whole being.
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27
In this verse we find our God given purpose to glorify God and edify others. We can also apply this verse to our wholeness in Christ. The verse describes four areas where we need harmony in order to live in our purpose: heart, soul, mind, and strength. These four areas define our whole being.
Heart – spiritual
Soul – emotional
Mind – intellectual
Strength – physical
I think we will agree that we are aware of the need to feed our mind, attend to our spirit, and take care of our bodies. Most people don’t realize the necessity of caring for our emotional selves.
Think for a moment about the effect your emotions have on the other three areas of your being: your mind, body, and spirit. You probably recognize the consequences of emotions that are out of control.
Gary Smalley, author of The DNA of Relationships, says, “Emotions are God’s information system. They inform you about your needs and your deepest beliefs.” The brain is the processor, the decision maker. Our emotions supply the data to the brain. God designed us to work best when our heart, soul, mind and body work together.
Our thoughts control your feelings and reactions. So…in order to control our emotional reactions, what must we control? Yes, our thoughts.
If we allow our emotions to control us, we are little more than a reactionary animal. REMEMBER: We want to be proactive about our emotional responses. The more we know about ourselves the better armed we can be when we face our emotional battles. We all have emotional buttons that get pushed. If we respond only through our emotional portal, we will probably have an inappropriate emotional response. However, when we use our whole being to process the stimuli, we have a much better chance of responding in a Christ-like way.
Let’s take a further look at the connection between our mind and our emotions.
The amygdale , also known as the lizard brain, is the emotional center in the brain that when overloaded with emotion, can trigger an irrational, emotional response. It is responsible for our fear, anger, and negativity. It is responsible for our fight or flight reflex. When we feel any emotion, especially fear or anger, the lizard brain kicks in and sends an alarm to every part of the brain. Our motion centers are alerted so our muscles become tense. Our heart rate and blood pressure increase and breath slows.
Do you see how this process connects the mind, body, and emotions? What effect do you think it has on our spirit??
The problem is that the amygdala gets a head start before the rational part of our brain can react. This gap is about six seconds. There is a lot of truth in the old adage to count to 10 before you react.
Are you prepared to respond to emotional stimuli? Being ready when the lizard brain is alerted is key to controlling our emotional responses. We need practice positive proactive emotional responses and in doing so, protect our mind, spirit, and body.
A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45
Michelangelo’s the David is the most perfect masterpiece of sculpture I have ever seen. The statue is housed in the Accademia Gallery in Florence, Italy. It stands over fourteen feet tall and weighs over six tons! Michelangelo worked for more than two years chiseling away at the marble to create his masterpiece. He reportedly said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” When asked how he made the statue, Michelangelo was noted as saying, “It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.”
Isn’t that what we can do with our labels, with our titles, with our personality weaknesses? We can chip away at our imperfections until they disappear. It’s also what God does with us. He chisels away at our imperfections until we see ourselves as he sees us.
Most scholars consider that the work depicts David before his battle with Goliath. David’s face looks tense and ready for battle. His furrowed brow shows determined thought. His eyes reveal him in deep concentration as if he sees something in the distance that has his full attention. The muscles throughout his body are tight. The tendons in his neck are bulging as are the ones in his hands. His weight is on his right leg with his right placed forward ready to spring into action. He carries his sling over his left shoulder suggesting a relaxed confidence in the action that is about to take place. The contrast in his intense expression and his relaxed stance suggest David is confident and focused on his decision to fight the formidable giant, Goliath.
This frozen moment in time represents the lapse in time between David’s decision and his action. This is the pause between a stimulus and a response. David was in the GAP.
God created us with the blessing of a time lapse, albeit often only a matter of seconds, between something that confronts us and our response. David was ready in the gap. He knew what was ahead of him and what was behind him. David had many reasons not to move out of the gap. David had lived with many labels that could have prevented him from moving forward out of the gap.
David was a young shepherd and the youngest of four brothers. Do you think they ever gave him labels? When David overheard the soldiers talking about this pagan giant, he became curious that may have delayed him in his return to his brothers and the sheep. His older brother taunted David, “What are you doing hanging around here? I know about your pride and deceit. You just want to see the battle!”
Then when David told King Saul that he could fight the Philistine, Saul replied, “Don’t be ridiculous! There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”
David persisted. He didn’t let the labels stand in his way of victory. David defended himself and told of his successes fighting off animals, and finally Saul consented. David prepared for battle with a giant. This is the David we see in Michelangelo’s sculpture.
When Goliath taunted David with cursing and threats, David replied, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies….This is the Lord’s battle.” David triumphed over the giant with a sling, some stones, and the Lord. He didn’t let his labels, the taunting, or the threats keep him from what he was called to do. Michelangelo chiseled the marble, but God chiseled David. God helped David break free from the labels, the doubts, the cruel words, the identity that others wanted to give David. David knew what to do in the gap because he let God stand in the gap with him.
Are you ready in the gap? Are you allowing God to stand with you in the often brief seconds when you need to confront an issue, respond with love to someone, or make a decision?
Will you be faithful in your decisions? God has promised never to desert us or forsake us – even in the gap!
I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. Psalm 119:30
For He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." Hebrews 13:5c