This is the first in a series of posts that will mirror what I’m teaching in a brand new group.
This past week I started leading a new group during our church’s 8:30 hour. This is a time when we offer a variety of electives for people to grow and become equipped.
The primary focus of my group (which is called From Turbulence to Transformation) is an area of life that I believe often gets overlooked – or perhaps avoided – in our pursuit of transformation.
See, in many cases, the focus of our transformation efforts is pursuing changed outward behavior. We look at our life and decide which actions we need to stop and which actions we need to start. Which is good! Much of the instruction offered by the Bible does address our actions. There are some things we need to leave behind and somethings we need to embrace.
But in my brand new group, the focus of transformation will not be on our actions, but on our emotions.
Why? Because I believe it is key to acknowledge that the reach of sin even impacts our feelings.
Prior to the fall of man in the Garden, human emotions were in a state of balance. But after the fall, human emotions began to resemble a roller coaster.
That’s because every aspect of our being was impacted by the fall: our bodies, our minds…and our feelings.
When it comes to thinking about emotional instability, we often focus (and rightly so) on negative external experiences.
When someone wounds us, or scares us, or neglects us, it’s hard not to have our emotions upset.
But the premise of my class is this: we must also factor in our own internal brokenness when we think about reasons why we may struggle with emotional stability.
If you haven’t noticed, we humans are pretty good at pointing the finger of blame at others, but less likely to dare to look inside to discover what might not be right with us!
And yet, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught this important life lesson:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)
The point is this: as difficult as it can be, sometimes we must dare to look inward to see what’s going on in our own heart.
I think there are a few reasons why daring to become introspective regarding our emotions.
- Most people feel a measure of discomfort even talking about their feelings, let alone analyzing them.
- We’ve never thought about the fact that sin’s impact reaches all the way into our emotions
- It might be said that our emotions are the deepest, most protected part of who we are. And yet, most of us don’t even understand our own emotions.
- It’s easier to blame external sources for emotional instability than consider what we bring to the table via our broken emotions.
- When others talk about our faulty emotions, we feel judged.
- It’s hard to reconcile the fact that sometimes when we are sinned against, our emotions will drive us to sin back in retaliation.
- We’ve never considered that our emotions, not just our actions, are factored into God’s transformation process.
In Romans 7, Paul dared to share with the world his internal struggle with sin. He wrote about how the things he wanted to do, he didn’t do. And the things he didn’t want to do, he did.
I appreciate the fact that Paul put the cards on the table. He was willing to admit that something inside of him was broken, and it created a battlefield within his being.
Acknowledging the reality of our brokenness is a great first step to finding the change in one of the deepest recesses of our existence.
I have to admit, about halfway through this introductory class, I jokingly asked the group: “So, based on what we’ve talked about so far, will I be seeing any of you next week?”
Why? Because it’s my sense that, often, the last area we want to talk about – let alone God mess with – is our emotions.
The next few posts will seek to expose the 5 basic areas of emotional instability that keep us from experiencing balance and peace.