One of the most unique, incredible aspects of humankind is our ability to feel. Praise be to God for our ability to feel a range of emotions, from joy to love to excitement and the countless other feelings our heart registers. Even at the depths of our pain, I thank God because He has wired our hearts to feel, think, act and speak in profoundly powerful ways. I can’t help but think back to the emotionally charged times in my life, many of which are my most significant memories.
- I was overcome with love on my wedding day.
- I felt overwhelming joy when my children were born.
- I was indescribably heartbroken when my mother passed away.
- I experienced excitement and gratitude upon visiting Europe for the first time.
On the other hand, fleshly emotions can feel burdensome, even too heavy to bear. Painful feelings drag people in the wrong direction, away from God and closer to the enemy. Negative emotions feel like a never-ending trap. Anxiety, sadness and stress often hold people hostage, robbing them of rest, happiness and peace of mind, all of which God wants us to experience.
The next time your emotions take you hostage, consider these three steps to finding comfort and freedom:
This may seem obvious, but prayer is quite easy to forget when your feelings hold your heart and mind hostage. In fact, when you are fixated on negative emotions, more negativity is birthed and the cycle of toxicity continues, which pushes prayer to the back of one’s mind.
Instead, fix your mind to go into prayer mode the moment your feelings hold you hostage. Ask God for help. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Pray to Him for peace and strength. Share specific concerns with Him, and trust that He will help you in your time of need.
2. Give thanks
Amid an emotional hostage situation, give thanks. Yes, thanks! You may not see or feel anything to be grateful for, but when you choose to focus on God, you make Him bigger than your problems. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Redirect your attention and start ticking off the reasons you feel thankful. As you focus your attention on the fortune in your life, your mind and heart will shift from your problems and refocus on to your joys. When you share thanks for the good in your life, your pain loses power and you put God back in the driver’s seat. He hears you, He is in control and He will shift your heart. The more you lean on Him and give thanks, the less power your fleshly emotions will have over your life.
3. Serve others
When your emotions hold you hostage, the last thing on your mind is probably serving others. I mean, climbing out of an emotionally debilitating place is exhausting, let alone taking time to volunteer or lend someone else a hand. However, helping other people is a surefire way to increase joy. Our emotions have this powerful way of eliciting selfishness because we begin to solely focus on ourselves, our pain and our troubles. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
However, when focusing on someone else and how you can serve others, that selfishness turns to selflessness. God instructs us to become servants to others. He knows that in helping others, we not only make this world a better place, but we become better people in the process.