I opened my mailbox to see a graduation invitation. It was from a young lady that grew up in my former church. I smiled. I remembered teaching her as a child, and then she helped with classes as she became older, and now she was graduating. Even though I no longer attend that church, I will never forget the fun times we had there.
This week, many people have called me, mailed me or texted me. Some had good news and some had bad news:
- I received news about the husband of a dear childhood friend who was diagnosed with cancer.
- I performed in the funeral of my community choir director who had directed the choir for over 40 years.
- A close friend’s sister died and my heart went out to her as she grieves.
- I was told of the retirement of my financial planner and friend. She asked me to come and meet the person taking her place. I thought, “Nobody can take her place.”
- I received an invitation to my nephew’s birthday party.
- A dear friend’s son is getting married to a beautiful young lady in just a week in another state.
- The last couple weeks I’ve attended band concerts, dance recitals and championship games of my grandchildren. I cheered them on.
What a whirlwind of events!
I found my emotions scaling up the roller coaster ride and then decline down the other side of that roller coaster. Then they went up, and then down. I remember my wise father saying to me with a smile, “It’s just life, honey. Enjoy every minute of it.” His words come to my mind so often when I found myself being influenced by the emotions of the moment.
I think our heavenly father knew that our humanity would struggle with emotions. He allowed Solomon in all his wisdom to pen the words that describe my life (and probably yours) these past few weeks.
In Ecclesiastes 3 it says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;”
Yup LORD, that describes my life in these past few weeks. I complained to Him, “Why do I have all these emotions?”
Emotions are a gift from God and natural for us to feel them. Our lives are enriched by emotions. Think of love, joy, peace, etc. How dull would life be without them?
Most think of anger as a negative emotion, but really it is God’s mechanism of protection. It lets us know that something could be wrong.
Emotions are a part of our spiritual makeup. God is fully aware of all of our feelings. When we are crying, be assured that He places our tears in a bottle and remembers them. (Psalm 56:8)
God encourages us to bring our emotions to Him in Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Emotions are important in our communication. When we express emotions to others and I mean true emotions where we don’t fake it, it lets others know that we care. We care and are elated in good times, sad in bad times. We support others in their journey. We are meant to encourage one another and share in the milestones. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
The issue comes when emotions are out of control. Sometimes I feel things that are negative, such as jealousy or anger. Fortunately, God knew that, too. In the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22, self-control is listed. What a loving God to include as one of the gifts, the emotion of self-control!
It’s important to lean into Jesus when we are feeling out-of-control emotions and ask for help.
Sometimes the emotions do not make sense at all or they are based on invalid things….but they are still feelings. Feelings must be addressed and are sometimes best expressed by seeking God and realize that He is good. (Ps 100:5) He is always available and always hears. (I John 5:15) Jesus understands our humanity because He was human and fully God. (Titus 2:13-14) He is there to help us to react in a Christ-like manner. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
I enjoy expressing my emotions to others in the form of greeting cards. I know that it’s an electronic age where a quick text or social media post is the norm. Sometimes I do that, but I still love to give a heart-felt greeting card through the mail.
After receiving the graduation announcement in the mail, I pulled out my shoe box full of greeting cards. I had fun rifling through the cards and stickers, oh how I love them. I was happy to see that I had the perfect cards.
The graduation card was exactly my sentiments and I would mail it tomorrow. I hope the words of the card make her proud of her accomplishments.
The sympathy card was perfect for my friend. I hope it eases her heart even a little to know I care.
The wedding card was perfect and looked like I made it homemade….even though I didn’t. Perfect. I hope it makes them smile and remember me.
I found myself thanking God for all of the emotions that I was feeling. It’s a good thing to celebrate milestones like graduations, weddings, and birthdays. It’s a privilege to enter in the happiness of accomplishments of others through concerts, recitals, and championship games. It’s also a necessary action to attend funerals and empathize with others over their losses. Dolly Parton once said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain!” Life is a beautiful mixture of events.
My hope for you is that you embrace with joy the unique life that God has blessed each of us with- even the ups and downs.