July 2, 2012
In my work as a psychiatrist, the most common reason people come into my office is experiencing feelings of pain. Another variant is having feelings and emotions that are out of control, leading to poor decisions or actions, which hurt them or the people around them. The most damaging situations occur when emotions become the decision-making system, leading to very destructive or even life-interfering behaviors.
Now, I am not saying our “negative” emotions are always bad. Our negative emotions have a life-saving role and are a great warning system that God gifted to us. But that important life changing insight is a discussion for a different devotional (see May 8, 2012).
When you make a decision to spend time with Your Lord, His thoughts will literally begin to form your mind. But you see, God made our minds powerfully complex. We can have many thoughts at the same time. These thoughts compete to form the lenses our minds use to view life’s situations. A big stumbling block for us is the difficulty of dealing with our emotions. Even though our positive feelings can sometimes get us into trouble, a bigger problem for us is handling real or anticipated emotional discomfort and pain.
Feeling lonely, rejected, unimportant, out of control, incompetent, hopeless, helpless, or overwhelmed can direct your thought world in a negative direction. The desire to avoid these feelings really drives many inadequate and self-destructive knee jerk decisions, ones we wish we could take back. Unfortunately, these decisions often evolve into patterns or habits we eventually want to change. But we feel we have no control and can’t stop them because we believe these actions soothe our uncomfortable feelings.
Thankfully, God gave us the Holy Spirit to Direct our psychological development – to help us become more Christ-like. Godly decision-making keeps the Holy Spirit on the throne of our heart. (See Spiritual Basics on the right and then click Confession). When we do not make Godly decisions, we need to confess the wrong decisions, make things right with God, and get the Holy Spirit back on the throne. As you attempt to spend time with God in prayer, scripture reading, or meditation, turn this process over to the Holy Spirit … letting His Spirit be the Director of your thinking and psychological development process.
Today, track your feelings, especially what you feel when people say something to you or an unexpected situation occurs. What is your first feeling? If that feeling is uncomfortable, examine your first response. Also, practice confession today. Unfortunately, we all have daily sinful decisions (internal thoughts or external behaviors) that require confession to restore the Holy Spirit to the throne. You will be amazed at the path your life takes when you promote the right director to guide and manage your thoughts and mind. Your director … the Holy Spirit, Satan, or your flesh … is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father of Truth, There are so many things that influence my mind and thoughts. I thank You for Your Spirit who brings order to my mind and infuses it with life and peace. I desire to think Your thoughts, my Holy One. I know that without the Holy Spirit directing my thought processes, my mind scrambles and searches to avoid discomfort and pain, and to get quick-fix relief and satisfaction. I know that the Evil One, the father of lies, tries to worm his way into my mind in the name of distraction and satisfaction. I thank You, Lord, for all your goodness and blessings, and I continue to pray for Your protection. I pray this in the name of My Comforter, Jesus; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace Romans 8:6
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8