I have an odd little condition called Raynaud’s Syndrome which basically means that the blood vessels in my extremities constrict sometimes causing my hands and feet to become extremely cold. These attacks seem random to me but they always come with some very real side effects including making me feel cold all over, my fingers turning white and my extremities hurting/burning like I’m stuck in a freezer. Here’s the thing, I’m not in a freezer nor am I actually freezing but it sure feels like it and that’s kind of how our emotions can hijack us into making poor decisions.
Emotions can feel so real in the moment that it can seem almost impossible to ignore but as real as they feel, anyone who has a couple of decades under their belt will have to admit that they aren’t always the best determiner of truth. Have you ever lashed out in anger only to cool down and realize maybe you were wrong? What about desiring something that wasn’t good for you? Or being afraid of something that would be in your best interest? We’ve all been led astray by our emotions which is the exact Bible study lesson I was preparing when I had one of my episodes which put my emotions in perspective.
Just because it feels real doesn’t mean that it reflects reality.
As we discussed earlier, our emotions don’t always tell us the truth about a situation. The day I had this little cold spasm, we were under a heat advisory with a heat index of 105. Obviously, I was not in any danger of freezing to death because it was incredibly hot but that was not what my body was saying.
Having emotions isn’t a sin but acting on what you know is wrong can be one.
Do you know what I would have loved to have done the minute I started shivering? Turn the heat on, of course but that would have been an overwhelming mistake, not only for me but for my kiddos and everyone in the hall passing my classroom. Also, I get headaches when I get overly hot so the minute this little episode was over I would have felt even worse. Christians aren’t robots but we are called to make decisions based on God’s Word, not on our ever-changing feelings. Remember, Christ knew what was about to happen to Lazarus and He still cried which leads me to my next realization.
Your emotions are valid but often wrong.
I have literally been shivering from head-to-toe, wrapped in a blanket knowing cognitively that it was hot as blazes outside and tried to “logic” myself into not being cold. Obviously, it wasn’t really cold so it seemed silly for me to sit there shaking and yet, there I sat because the logic didn’t change my symptoms. Knowing that I shouldn’t be cold doesn’t mean that my fingers aren’t turning white. Just like knowing I shouldn’t be sad about a certain situation doesn’t mean that I will magically start singing Disney songs and skipping through life. Our emotions are powerful which is why the Bible gives us so many instructions on how to handle them. Just read Proverbs!
A wise person knows the need to be intentional when it comes to their weaknesses.
The first few months of having Raynaud’s was a bit of a mess because I didn’t know what it was and I used the logic method for dealing with my issues. It didn’t help that I first recognized it during the fall/winter. I remember heading out to a football game and checking the weather to see a low in the high 50s. In the past that would have meant that I needed a sweatshirt and maybe a blanket but nothing else which is exactly what I took thinking I was completely prepared yet I thought I was going to die before that game was over. I’m not sure I have ever been that cold in my life!
I have since learned my lesson and I know to always have at least two blankets, gloves and hand warmers. I even purchased one of those heated vests for this season. It would be stupid of me not to be prepared because I know that is a potential weakness for me and I need to avoid triggers. I try not to hold cold water bottles, I have gloves in my desk drawer and I have a pair of super warm and fuzzy socks in my nightstand. My intentionality makes my issues a lot easier to deal with when an episode arises and I feel emotions are the same way. No, we can’t always know when we are going to be hit with certain emotions but I bet you can tell me some people or situations that might lead you into an emotional trap. Try to avoid those or take precautions if you can’t. Don’t help Satan hijack your thinking by putting yourself in a vulnerable position. That might mean you have to steer clear of an old hangout, a certain coworker or even social media but think how much more pleasant life could be for you. Use common sense to navigate and try to take time to evaluate your emotions before making snap decisions.
Like my Raynaud’s, your emotions aren’t going away but that doesn’t mean you have to live a life with only that as a guide. In fact, you would be foolish to do so. Remember, the truth is more important than feelings and provides a better outcome in the end. (John 8:32)