Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Power of Emotion

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Leslie Basham: Self-centered emotions can be deadly. Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy DeMoss: It's like quicksand. You let yourself play with these emotions. You let yourself think about these things. You dwell on these thoughts and these emotions. And you find you are sinking deeper and deeper and deeper and ultimately getting pulled down as many women do into deep depression.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 4th. Emotions can be a great ally or a dangerous enemy. And they can turn from one into the other without warning.

Nowhere do emotions cause us greater problems than we when we want something we don't have--like a husband. Here's Nancy continuing in a series called "Seven Secrets for Singles."

Nancy DeMoss: We're talking about this whole matter of singleness and some of the choices that we make sometimes as part of the audience, feeling like the parade is passing us by. And life is passing us by. And our friends are passing us by. And we're being the bridesmaids in their weddings but never the bride. And how do we deal with that season of life whether it's for a few years or maybe even for a longer period of time as it has been for some of us.

[We're] talking about the importance of choices, making choices to pursue God, not to pursue marriage, not to pursue men but to pursue God in intimacy with Him with all of our hearts and to receive the gift that God gives to us in singleness.

And I want to talk today about another choice that has been very helpful in my own walk with God. This is not something that I have learned, it's something I'm learning.

And that is this. I choose to not be controlled by my emotions. I choose as a single woman and, by the way, what we are saying here about single women applies really equally to married women--it's the choice not to be controlled by my emotions and not to indulge my emotions in sinful ways.

Now, emotions are not inherently sinful. At least, most emotions are not. Emotions can be a real gift from God but they are tricky. They can deceive us.

And the danger is when we start living our lives based on our emotions--doing whatever our emotions tell us to do rather than checking things through the grid of the truth. What is the truth? What God's Word says regardless of how my emotions feel.

My emotions go up and down. And the danger is if I let myself entertain or nurse negative or self centered emotions, I'm going to end up in trouble.

All self-centered emotions are ultimately deadly. They are destructive. It's like quicksand. You let yourself play with these emotions; you let yourself think about these things, you dwell on these thoughts and these emotions and you find you're sinking deeper and deeper and deeper and ultimately getting pulled down as many women do into deep depression.

And I have to tell myself day after day after day when these negative thoughts and these negative emotions come into my mind, I can't let myself go there because, if I give it an inch, it's going to take a mile.

Let me just address in this session three particularly dangerous roads to go down as it relates to emotions. These are areas where I feel I need to really be cautious--things that I cannot afford to entertain or nurse or allow to come into my mind. They may come to my mind but I can't dwell on them. I can't let these things stay there.

The first one is I've got to refuse to wallow in self-pity.

Self- pity. It is so dangerous. And it comes and it is so subtle and it attacks us through means of things like loneliness. Now what do we do with our loneliness? Well, let me suggest that we don't run from it.

We're not to just medicate or mask it or pretend like it doesn't exist and, oh, just put this happy Christian smile on and pretend that we're not lonely. God's not asking us to do that. He is saying, "When you experience these feelings of aloneness or sadness or things that would make you prone to self-pity, don't run from it. Run right into it and accept the loneliness."

In fact, realize it can become a friend if I let it press me to God. We heard just before this session a testimony from a woman who said that for a period of months she was struggling with aloneness, with loneliness. She said, "It was hard. But," she said, "it was so good and cleansing because it forced me, it pressed me to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord."

And in those times when I'm tempted to have self-pity, to wallow in self-pity, I need to face that and then deal with it by focusing on others instead of on myself--look for opportunities to serve, to give, to love, to bless, to minister, to get out of myself and into someone else.

It's deadly if I sit there waiting for someone to come rescue me from my loneliness. If instead I look for someone that I can rescue from their loneliness, I'll find that in time, I'm getting freed from mine.

That's when I need to counsel my heart according to the Scripture with passages like Psalms, chapter 42, verse 5 where David says to himself what I need to say to myself sometimes, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."

He's saying, "Instead of focusing on those self-centered emotions, set your affections on things above. Look up. Set your hope in God."

Now there's a second emotion to be careful not to give in to. And that's the whole area of bitterness or anger, bitterness and anger.

If I want to be free as a woman of God, I must refuse to give in to bitterness and anger which ultimately is the result of claiming rights. I have a right to be married.

A woman wrote me and she said, "I realized I was bitter toward God for not giving me what I felt like I deserved--marriage. I felt that I deserved to be married and not to have to work. As a result, I was tormented with constant thoughts of discontentment."

Refuse to give in to bitterness and to anger. Instead, I've got to yield my expectations to God, yield my rights to God and receive with gratitude the circumstances that God brings into my life. When those bitter, angry thoughts start to come, I can't go there. I've got to say, "I can't nurse these thoughts. I can't nurse these emotions."

There's a third area of feelings and emotions that I believe is so important we refuse to indulge. And that's the whole area of romantic feelings and desires, as single women, romantic feelings and desires.

There is a verse in the Old Testament, the Song of Solomon, which is a wonderful study on romantic love and marriage. But in that book, the author says, "Don't awaken love until it's time." And when is its time? After you've been to the altar. That's the time to awaken those feelings, those desires. Now, there are times when your emotions will tell you, "I have to have that man. I can't live without him."

I remember a time when I allowed myself to cultivate a romantic attraction and feelings and desires toward a man that I knew was not in God's will for me to marry. And I can't tell you how difficult it was when I had to come to the place of realizing, This has to be cut off.

It was so much harder then because my emotions were screaming, You can't live without this. You can't go on. I can't help the way I feel. The fact is, I can help what I do about fueling those feelings. And I had to come to the place to say, "I can't pour fuel on this fire. No fantasizing."

Now what that means is that we need to be careful about the kind of input we take in. I will promise you that, if you make a diet of reading romance novels, you will be fueling something that you'll find you can't deal with. Those emotions grow more intense as we feed them, as we fuel them.

And when we make the right choices, as I had to do in that situation to say, "This can't be. This has to stop. I can't continue fueling this." As hard as it was"¦I tell you at the moment I felt like it was cutting off an arm"¦I mean it just felt like I couldn't live without this.

But in time, God began to replace what had become impure desires because it wasn't the time for love, God began to replace those, in time, with appropriate and holy and wholesome emotions and righteous desires as I began to feed my love for God, to set my affection on things that are above. And I have found that, in time, the hurt and the pain was not what it had been at the moment I felt I couldn't live with this.

The emotions scream out at us. How do we deal with those? Well, be honest about the emotions. Tell God how you feel--the bitterness, the anger, the self-pity, the romantic desires.

And then be honest about ways that those emotions have led you to sin.

And then determine to stop fueling the negative, the sinful emotions and instead, set your affections on things that are above. You know what that says to me? We can choose what we love. We can choose to some degree what we do with our emotions.

And I find that, as I renew my mind in the Word of God, as I fill my mind with the Scripture and the Word of God and get my mind off of the world's input through its magazines and books and movies and music but fill my mind with things that are holy and pure and good and true, then God helps to rein in my emotions.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss isn't finished. She'll be right back with a point about filling our mind with God's truth. In what ways does God fill your mind with the truth? We hope you're spending time everyday in His Word and in prayer.

And if you are single, we hope you'll spend some time reading Nancy's booklet, Singled Out For Him. It will help you fill your mind with godly thoughts about singleness. You can get a copy for a suggested donation of $5 when you call us at 1-800-569-5959. Or go on-line and visit our Web site www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

We also hope that this program is helping to fuel your mind for the things of God. If you believe in what we are doing and are able to give financially, or give your prayer support, we need to hear from you. We come to you everyday because listeners like you support us. You can send your gift to Revive Our Hearts.

Of all the choices a single adult makes, there's one that has greater implications than all the others. We'll talk about it on tomorrow's program. Now again, here's Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss: Paul said to the Corinthians, "you need bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." So you know what I do with those emotions, with those thoughts that sometimes feel like they are raging out of control?

I bundle them all up and I lift them up to the Lord and I say, "Lord, I can't handle these feelings. I can't handle these emotions. These are too strong for me. But you are Lord of my life. And I'm giving them to You. And I'm asking You, would You take over? I want all these thoughts, every thought to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

And as I do, I find that He is able to control that which I commit to Him. Now that doesn't mean that I don't ever struggle with it, but it means I'm given by Him the grace not to go down the road further than I should, not to nurture and entertain emotions that ultimately are going to be so deadly and destructive.

Why are you downcast oh, my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. For I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Leslie Basham: Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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