What is an Emotion? An emotion is commonly defined as a feeling of joy, sorrow, fear, anger, love, and so forth. An emotion can range from a subliminal and unnoticeable influence, to a strong feeling, and to an overwhelming force. In addition, an emotion can arise without warning and forethought, and can cause one to behave in a way that has not been checked (and approved) by rational thought. As such (and unfortunately) there are times when our emotions completely take over our thoughts and actions that results in regrettable behavior. Physiologically (from our body’s perspective), the experience of an emotion may be accompanied by internal changes such as an increased heart rate, increased respiration, and hormonal changes. In addition, an emotion may also include external manifestations such as different facial expressions, crying, shaking, tightening of muscles, perspiration, and so forth. The design of our body, soul, and spirit includes emotions, and are a key component of who we are and how we interact with the world. Psychologists seem to agree there are six basic emotions: sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, fear and happiness. In addition, these emotions are innate (inborn, instinctive) and cross-cultural. The existence of these emotional types has been reinforced by numerous psychological studies of infants. For example, Discrete Emotions Theory provides evidence that infants are born with a pre-wired system for experiencing emotions according to a biologically-determined timetable. As an infant matures, the degree a child will express an emotion may be influenced by parents, family members, and culture via positive and negative learning experiences. As we grow into adults, we continue to experience emotions and continue to reveal emotions via our facial expressions. Indicators such as the positioning of the eyelids, lips, focus of the eyes, and opening of the mouth can provide insight into the emotional status; and may reveal the “inner workings” of the heart. Positive emotions are wonderful to experience. Whereas negative emotions can be painful and sometimes excruciating. What’s more, emotions influence our perception of life and how we interact with others. For example, look back in time and consider how you perceived your life and how you communicated with others when you experienced the emotion of joy and/or love. Now consider the same when you experienced fear, anger or sadness. Each emotion is akin (and a common cliché) to looking at the world through different sets of colored glasses. Emotional Awareness and Control Some persons are not aware of their emotions. For those who are aware, some do not maintain a “pulse” on their emotional status and behavioral response—which is difficult to do—especially when there is a myriad of more important things to think about (and accomplish) every day, every hour, and every minute throughout the day. However, whenever possible, it is important for us to recognize, understand, and manage our emotions. Some emotional experiences are temporary, while others may last for a longer period of time. An example of a temporary emotional event is when someone (i.e. a driver on a highway) does something inappropriate. We first experience frustration, then anger, followed by a rise in our blood pressure. We then attempt to rationalize their driving habits by questioning their intelligence. They eventually go their different way and we soon forget about it. However, there are times when an emotion will last for a longer period of time—even to a point where it seems “normal” because we forgot what it feels like to live life without the emotion. It’s important to know emotions can provide an opportunity for Satan to lead one astray—especially negative emotions—which will occur more often as we get closer to the last days. As such, this writing focuses on the caustic emotions of anger, fear (including anxiety), and sadness. When we experience the “valleys” in life is when some may “push back” on everything and everyone, including God. This is when we may begin to question God—which opens the door (and our “ears”) to the lies of Satan. This is the critical time when we need to hold onto our hope, belief, faith and trust in God’s word and God’s promises during these turbulent times. Jesus said we should love God “With all your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, and with all of your strength.” (Mark 12:30) Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths.” Anger All of us have and will experience varying degrees of anger as our imperfect flesh responds to a dark and broken world. When we have a negative encounter with someone—especially if a physical, sexual or emotional abuse has occurred—it will cause our emotions of anger to predominate our thoughts. We soon imagine obtaining a “pound of their flesh” (or some other form of retribution) for their wrongdoing. If we do not control our emotions at this point, they will continue to fester into a toxic combination of additional emotions. Some may attempt to control their emotions by repressing them into the background of their mind—but to no avail because we will still think about what occurred; what we should have done; and/or what we should do to the one who is responsible. Meanwhile, as time passes, we will attempt to rationalize and get a grip on what’s going on between our ears and calm down. We know in our heart what we’re experiencing is not good, it is not healthy, it is not spiritual, and it is not Christ-like. So, we’re in a quandary in what to do with our anger, and we have two basic options: no response and respond. Meanwhile, we need to release the internal “pressure” that is building up due to our anger. It is recommended (and appropriate) to tell God about our negative emotions, feelings of anger, negative thoughts, and desire for justice—rather than allowing the source of our pain to continue. It’s not good to hold onto or deny the emotion. But rather, it is prudent to express all of your feelings and thoughts to God in order to refrain from putting yourself in a situation that may make things worse; something you could regret; and something that will likely require forgiveness for what you have done. David (in Psalm 69 and 109) expressed his outrage to God and asked for violent curses to come down on his enemies. However, it’s important to note that David’s anger transitioned to praise and worship as he concluded both Psalms. And, yes, this is not easy, especially if the wounds are deep. It is even more difficult if physical and/or sexual abuse occurred—which often results in an all-encompassing emotional bondage with oppressive “weights” that smothers the life of the abused. No one should have to go through this type of experience. There’s only one way out, and that’s forgiveness. It’s when we approach the Throne of God; when we seek His presence; when we talk about our emotions; and when we receive His love and forgiveness is when everything that seems important falls away…including our anger. This is when we feel an indescribable peace deep within our soul. This is also when we “know that we know” that this is a “taste” of eternity with Him. This is where forgiveness for those that have hurt us will be found in that we are loved, we are forgiven, and what we have done is forgotten. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12) As we honestly share our heart and how we feel with God in prayer, and as we express our emotions, the Holy Spirit will lovingly illuminate and reveal our situation. Sometimes He will reveal additional and/or unknown layers and depths of our innermost being; often resulting in tears of regret, healing, and/or unexplainable joy that wells up from our soul. What’s more, the challenges we encounter during this temporary life on this earth really don’t matter when we consider the bigger picture: our names are written in The Book of Life because we have hope, believe in, extended our faith towards, and trust in the sacrificial death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It is God’s grace and love that changes us from within, and it is God’s grace and love that creates a desire within us to live a life that pleases Him. By yielding to and obeying the Holy Spirit, the internal pressure and “steam” will begin to dissipate, our blood pressure begins to subside, and our perception of the situation will take on a completely new reality…from His perspective. At this point it’s our choice (due to our free will) whether or not we completely free ourselves from the bondage and pain of anger. Since we are forgiven, we must forgive. There is no other choice. Without complete forgiveness anger will raise its ugly head again and the cycle will not stop. And, yes, there will be times when you will need to remind yourself that you forgave and need to forget. (Since it’s in our memory there are times we will remember.) When this occurs, think about what God gave us in His son, Jesus Christ. We are absolutely and forever forgiven for who we are and what we have done. Remember the heart-illuminating and anger-depleting words of Jesus before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34 These words of Jesus reveal that He knew His executors were living in darkness. He knew the horrific torture that they just gave Him was due to their blindness of the Truth. He knew Satan was using them as pawns to accomplish his vain attempt to eliminate Him. He knew what He was about to accomplish would provide a means for them to be forgiven, and so He prayed to the Father for their forgiveness as he was dying on the cross. “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21 The Power of Forgiveness It is safe to say those who harmed us do not deserve to be forgiven. However, it’s also safe to say we did not deserve God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ. God’s desire for us is to: Let go of that which continues to destroy us from within. To forgive as He has forgiven us—as a reciprocal act of His love, His mercy and His grace. Forgiveness—the deliberate act of relinquishing (surrendering, abandoning) our feelings of resentment and/or vengeance towards someone who has harmed us—is biblically mandated. But there is a very good reason: forgiveness is more powerful than we realize in that it can heal the internal “damage.” Forgiveness: Is a powerful spiritual weapon. Will restore our body, heart and soul from the devastating harm caused by trauma, such as: o Verbal abuse. o Mental abuse. o Physical abuse. o Sexual abuse. o Domestic violence. o Parental separation. o Loss of a loved one. Takes power away from Satan and his demonic minions. Changes our perception of: o Those who have harmed us. o The world around us. Even if the person who committed the crime does not care, refuses to change, or is no longer living—forgiveness is still vitally important for the one who was harmed—for it is a source of healing. Even though the one who harmed you may discount/disown what they did; respond wi th disdain; or no longer live…forgiveness is for YOUR healing. “The Power of Forgiveness” (on UniqueBibleStudies.com) provides expanded spiritual insight into forgiveness and its ability to heal the deepest wounds and scars. What to do when a response (to a situation that caused anger) is required. There are occasions when anger—caused by someone’s behavior—requires a response. Jesus Christ expressed anger as He cleared the temple of moneychangers when He declared “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). The Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) wanted to see if Jesus would break their rules (and charge him) by healing a man on the Sabbath. (Mark 3:1- 6). Jesus looked upon them with anger, but was also grieved by the hardening of their hearts as He healed the man. The expression of anger by Jesus Christ was, is and will be holy, righteous, and warranted. However, it is absolutely dangerous for any person to express anger. The reason is that we are unholy, we are non-righteous, and our behavior is affected by the sinful impurities within our flesh. Plus it’s a very slippery slope in that any expression of anger will have a high probability of resulting in unintended and non revocable consequences. And yes, it is not easy to “pull back” from the situation. Especially when our rage is boiling inside, and our mind is racing with thoughts and images of retribution, and we want to completely unload, and it takes every ounce of strength we have to not respond. This is when we need to walk away, pray and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. We must control our emotions and not allow our emotions to control us. If a response is required and there’s no other choice, it is best to allow a “cooling off” period to occur so that our rational thought process (and the Holy Spirit) will have an ability to intercede. Once this occurs, here’s is a list of questions to consider. 1 . Are you calmed down? Have you prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to guide you through this situation? Are you able to think rationally and logically? Are you able to focus upon how the situation may be improved? 2 . What is the specific reason for your anger? Be careful because this question will likely “fan the flames” of anger once again. Was your pride and/or selfishness a contributing factor in your anger? Was your anger justified? 3 . What is your core motivation to respond? Are you seeking to punish or point to Jesus Christ? Do you see, understand, and feel their pain due to their life in darkness? Is your response based upon selfless love? 4 . What is the intended outcome? What can go wrong? Is it possible for a misunderstanding to occur? Can it be used as justification to not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord? 5 . Will God be glorified? “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20 Fear vs. Anxiety Like anger, fear and anxiety are very unpleasant emotions. While our response to fear and anxiety may be somewhat similar, the definition of fear and anxiety are different. Fear is a response to a real and definite danger, pain, or harm. Whereas anxiety is due to a perceived (or imagined) threat of danger, pain, or harm. For example, if you are walking down a dark alley at night you will likely have anxiety in that someone could jump out and harm you. However, if someone jumps out and takes an aggressive position towards you…your anxiety will immediately transition to fear (because it is real and not imagined). This is when adrenalin kicks in and a survivalistic mindset is activated: fight or flight (attack or run). Whether real or imagined, fear and anxiety can cause us to experience a rise in blood pressure; increased stress and tension; cause an uneasy feeling in the pit of our stomach; can influence our relationship with others; and can result in an inability to think and function normally. Fear will be discussed in greater detail below, followed by anxiety. Godly Fear It is important to understand that there is a good type of “Heavenly” fear in that it begins the attainment (or learning) of wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10; Psalm 111:10). What’s more, all should fear God (and not have anxiety toward God) because He is real. His words are real. His promises are real. Plus, how we individually fear God will affect our life on this earth and beyond. Those who do not fear God will not gain Godly wisdom. They may be highly intelligent, acquire significant knowledge, and vainly consider themselves wise—but they are unable to see and understand God’s wisdom. “And the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore, I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.’” Matthew 13:10-13 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent’” 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 However, those who fear God are able to gain wisdom once they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and as they yield to and are instructed by the Holy Spirit. What’s more, the initial motivation of fear towards God transitions to a compelling desire to serve Him based upon love for Him. “We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Example of Fear I worked the midnight shift in a convenience store while attending college. One early morning a person came into the store and walked directly to the back where alcoholic beverages were sold. From behind the sales counter I informed the person that it was after 2 AM and we were not allowed to sell beer or wine. The person turned, walked toward me, raised a gun about 6-inches from my face and said “give me all of the money.” I turned the cash register around, pushed the No Sale button to open the cash drawer, begged for my life, and proceeded to crawl into a small area under the counter for safety. Fortunately, the person took the money and left. The person was caught later that morning and eventually went to prison. After I calmed down, I remembered a very odd experience. The second I saw the gun it felt as if a warm sensation moved very quickly through my entire body: from my front to my back. The only description I can give is one I have seen in cartoons as a child: when the character was faced with a terrifying situation would turn white with fear starting from their front and passing through their body. In addition, I was in survival mode. The only thing going through my mind was to do whatever was necessary to not give the person a reason to pull the trigger. My fear was due to a real and definite threat of harm and possible death. A few days later I asked (and received approval) to be transferred to an auditing position within the company, one where I would not be required to stand behind a counter and be subject to another armed robbery. I was dealing with the emotion of anxiety as I relived the event in my mind. Anxiety Many of us (with varying degrees) experience continuous anxiety subconsciously because of past negative experiences and/or when we look into the future, we face numerous unknowns. We feel more comfortable when we know what will occur, why it will occur, when it will occur, how it will occur, where it will occur, and we know we can “handle” the situation. However, there are many aspects of life where this is impossible. As such, many go through life with a subliminal degree of anxiety. Some experience mild anxiety, others moderate and a few have severe anxiety. What’s more, some of us are unaware of our anxiety because we’ve had it for so long it seems normal. When changes (including potential changes) from our “norm” occurs (change in job, moving, unplanned expenses,