Have you ever wondered how people could behave so out of character that their actions shock you? From time to time, I would hear of young men or women who were on fire for God, grew up in church, and then one day walked away from everything, family, church, and God. Or straight-A students, who loved life and were obedient, but today they are battling addiction, suicidal thoughts, and living without a sense of hope. Likewise, the number of husbands and wives who were once madly in love can no longer "stand" to be in the same room with their spouse. Then there are encouraging stories—gang leaders, murderers, and child molesters who found Christ and were transformed for the better. And what made C.S Lewis turn from an atheist to one of the greatest Christian Apologists? So, what causes such a drastic change in behavior? While each has different reasons, one thing is sure, they all experienced a change of heart somewhere along the way.
According to psychologist Daniel Goleman "in a sense…we have two minds — and two different kinds of intelligence: rational and emotional. How we do in life is determined by both— it is not just IQ, but emotional intelligence that matters."  Why? Because emotions can hijack all reasoning. And without a reasoning mind, the heart can easily mislead you.
A heart that is hijacked, is one that is unguarded. When emotions overwhelm us, you and I do not think logically. For instance, what do you do when you feel God did not come through for you? It is a question that often haunts us in our darkest moments. When we're on a high, we say God is good —all the time, but when we're in despair, we believe—God has forgotten us, and we forget that He is good all the time. But I ask, does God come through for you? You would agree the answer depends on the current state of your emotions. Emotions can cause us to see God negatively, positively, or both? But if we believe and know that God is good, how can He ever be evil? If we say God is faithful, then how can he prove unfaithful? If we know that God honors his word, how can He go against his word? Sadly, we tend to see God through our emotions. God cannot contradict himself; He cannot be both good and evil. God's nature is good, full stop. He cannot act against his nature; it is who God is. God is love. Therefore, He isn't hateful. Even his acts of discipline are done out of love and not hate "because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastens everyone he accepts as his son." (Hebrews 12:6)
I recall a good friend always saying to me, "Cheryl, give people the benefit of the doubt. You never know what they must deal with at home." She was so right, and often we misjudge people because of how we feel in the moment. For example, at church, someone doesn't say hello to you, and immediately you feel shunned and hurt, and you label the sister or brother as hostile or think they don't like you. But, on the other hand, suppose the sister was having a bad day and dealing with something so burdensome that her mind was preoccupied and didn't notice you? Remember, in our last blog, preoccupy means to overshadow other thoughts. People are so preoccupied with life stresses that it often slips them to be kind. While this is not an excuse, you and I must make allowances for our brothers' or sisters' faults and forgive anyone that offends us (Col 4:13). That includes "church hurt," too often, one horrible experience and we label every Christian a hypocrite and every church "the worst."
And unfortunately, we treat God the same way because our emotions have hijacked what we know to be true of God. If God does not answer us according to our timetable, we assume He didn't come through for us, and we are disappointed. Some of us get so frustrated that we give up on waiting on God, His Word, and life. We become despondent if he didn't answer a prayer how we thought He should and when we wanted Him to. What about that loved one you asked him to heal but still died, the child whose salvation you prayed for but continues to go astray, or the financial breakthrough you begged him to give you, but things got worse? God answers according to His will, not yours. So I ask you—because God answered according to His will, does that mean He isn't a good Father? Does it mean God didn't come through for you? Our emotions cause us to throw temper tantrums toward God. But we must remember, that God isn't here to obey us; we are here to obey Him. His will is not to conform to ours, but our will must conform to His, and that might mean not getting what we want when we desire it. But remember, we discussed loving knowledge and proving what is excellent; your mind, the intellectual and reasoning mind, should take over and know that God's will for your life is perfect. When we allow emotions to take over, we lose our reasoning abilities; that's when we miss out on what God has for us. Because we want what the heart wants—our desires, our passions, we desire what we think makes us happy. But who sees all, knows all, and understands all things. Is it not God? Hence the reason you must guard your heart and not lose heart. Because as you wait on God, you must prepare your heart and fortify your mind against the negative thoughts that seek to control it.
Emotions left uncontrolled remind me of Proverbs 25:28 – "a man without self-control, is like a city broken into and left without walls (ESV). What happens when a city has no borders? The enemy can wreak havoc; foreigners can come in at any time. When our emotions are unchecked, the devil comes in and wreaks havoc, that's why we think and feel things that aren't true, and we blame God and resent him when situations overwhelm our hearts. But when you guard your heart, you protect it against the forces that seek to corrupt it and turn it against God. And one way we can protect our hearts from being hijacked is with L.A.Y.E.R.S.
L - Love God with all your heart, might, and soul.
A - Affirming words
Y - Yield to God
E - Exhale
R - Release from negative thoughts
S - Sing hymns and spiritual songs.
Written by: Cheryl Carty-Strachan
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