This was a deep chapter. As I read the lies and the truths that followed, it hit me: with every emotion I experience, I have two choices. I can act according to the way I feel, or I can pray and respond in obedience to my God. I have a lot of work to do in order to bring myself into alignment with God’s Word. So, let’s examine each of these lies, and the truth God is revealing to me through Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s writing:
Lie #32: If I feel something, it must be true.
Truth #32: God’s Truth is what is true. Emotions are fleeting, and tainted with our sins and desires of the flesh.
Ladies, how many of us have ever said, “Oh, I know I love _____ because I just feel so wonderful when I am with him!” only to be completely disappointed the next week when we feel like garbage because he broke our hearts. Our feelings are just that: a fleeting emotion that is affected by body chemistry and circumstances.
I know I get this way sometimes when I worship too. I get such intense feelings that I randomly burst into tears and fall on my knees to cry out to my God. Yes, we are supposed to have intense emotion and desire for God, but our relationship with Him cannot be grounded in how we feel. I like Lee Strobel’s approach to faith: seek the FACTS. Emotions can get us started on the path toward God’s Truth, but we need a rock solid foundation. For me, that foundation is built on His Word, the circumstances He has allowed me to experience, and the evidence of His Truth through those experiences. I have felt a variety of emotions toward God: extreme awe, deep love, intense anger. Yes, anger. When my sister died, I was so angry at Him for NOT answering MY prayer for her! I got so angry, I even questioned whether He HEARD my prayer! Have you ever felt that way? So I stopped talking to Him. Yep. Just stopped praying. I gave God the silent treatment. Did my response out of anger change who God is? Did it change His mind and make Him bring my sister to life? No. God was, is, and ALWAYS will be. His way is perfect, even when I don’t understand it.
In marriage, our “feelings” for our spouse will ebb and flow across a wide spectrum. Even when we feel “hate” toward our spouse, does that change the fact we are married? No. Emotions are so fleeting, that true relationships need to be built on more than just how we feel toward each other. Communication is key, especially with God. Our spiritual highs will only last so long. Our honeymoon stage in faith and in marriage is only so long. When that dreamy mist lifts, we hit the ground running, and if our foundation is built on something other than God’s Word, good luck keeping up.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately sick;who can understand it?“I the Lord search the heartand test the mind,to give every man according to his ways,according to the fruit of his deeds.””
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness. Emotions are sinking sand. God’s Truth is the rock upon which I stand.
Lie #33: I can’t control my emotions.
Truth #33: This is partially true: I cannot control my EMOTIONS, but I CAN control how I RESPOND to my emotions and to those around me in the mess of my emotions. This truly is where the fruit of Self-control and Patience is most evidenced. I can take captive my thoughts, and question, “Why am I feeling like I want to cry every minute of the day?” or “Why do I get so ANGRY every time I talk to that person?” My emotions can be tools to revealing the deeper issue that I need to address. I may not have realized what day it was and it is a day that reminds me of my sister. Or the anger toward this person is because s/he exhibits behaviors I have that I don’t like and wish to change.
So, instead of acting out in anger or depression, I have to take these thoughts captive, bring them to God, and seek His wisdom.
Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 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.Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Colossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Lie #34: I can’t help how I respond when my hormones are out of whack (a.k.a., P.M.S.).
Truth #34: This is a hard truth for me. Before I share what God has taught me, let me share an experience from yesterday morning: My husband and I have one car, and we were getting ready to leave for the morning so I could drop him off at work and go grocery shopping. FIVE times, I had to go back to the house to get something I forgot (or thought I forgot but didn’t). Of course, I slammed car doors, huffed and puffed the whole time, and was quite snappy toward my husband. Bless his heart, his response to me was, “Hon, are you stressed this morning?” I realized I was. We got into the car, and I apologized for my behavior. I let my emotional and hormonal state consume me, and I was taking it out on him. We were able to talk through the situation on our way to his place of employment.
So, what did I learn? Take deep breaths. When I know hormones are raging, I need to be mindful of my attitudes and actions. God made women this way: to live in cycles. We have time to prepare! He gives us warning signs! So, as the hormone fluctuations happen, get a massage, drink more water, increase vitamins, get good rest (I take Tylenol PM during the biggest fluctuations…). All these things help keep me level-headed as much as possible. Be open in communicating with those loved ones around you and ask for help. I cannot even begin to express how thankful I am for Brandon’s response to me yesterday. Instead of being accusatory, he simply asked me a question. That allowed me to step back, evaluate, seek forgiveness, and readjust my thinking.
James 4:1-10 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
So when the waves of emotions are crashing over me, may I respond by lifting my eyes to You, O Lord, from whom my help and salvation come.
Lie #35: The answer to depression must first be sought in medication and/or psychotherapy.
Truth #35: I do struggle with depression, and I have been on and off medication over the last 14 years. Medication can be crucial for battling depression, especially with chemical imbalances in many of us. Is it the only option for treating depression? No. Is it the best option for treating depression? Honestly, that depends on the individual, and the source of the depression. If the culprit is a chemical malfunction in the brain, by all means, take your medication! It is just as important as insulin for a type 1 diabetic!
Counseling is also a VERY helpful tool in treating depression. Coupled with medication, it can be even more beneficial than medication alone. As a person of faith, I always found the most in-depth counseling sessions were with my counselors who were also Christians. Once I brought my faith into the equation, they then had the Bible as the biggest tool to diving into the depths of my soul.
Deep Bible studies with people I trusted also were (and are) very helpful in battling my depression.
I have to stress here before I continue that each person is DIFFERENT, and treatment options should be based on YOUR needs and circumstances. Start first by talking to someone you trust: doctor, friend, pastor, spouse…anyone who can give you Godly counsel and wisdom in taking the next steps.
I have recently stopped taking my antidepressants. I was not wise in how I did it: I didn’t tell anyone that was what I was going to do. I knew if I could get through the first two weeks and the withdrawal symptoms, I would be ok. I did have a couple of days of high anxiety and a bit of a manic episode here and there. When I felt these coming on, I did talk to my husband to make him aware of why I might be more intense in the weeks ahead. Spending quiet time with God in the mornings and writing has been helping me keep my eyes stayed on Him, and is helping me get to the root of my depression issues: I never felt worthy enough. This is a battle I fight over and over again, because Satan keeps trying to sneak the same lies in over and over again. He thinks to himself, “Well, it worked last time. Let’s try this again and see if I still have it.” Sometimes he does, and sometimes he doesn’t. When he does, he doesn’t have it as long any more. The root of God’s Word is pressing deeper and deeper into my soul, preventing Satan’s lies from getting deep enough to do more damage.
I cling to the truth that God’s creation is BEAUTIFUL and I am HIS CREATION. He knit me together in my mother’s womb. He wrote all of my days, even those in which I battled depression and suicidal thoughts. He has rescued me time and time again as I fell victim to my thoughts. He teaches me to take my thoughts captive now and to dwell on what is good. As frustrated as I get with people now and then, He reminds me of what is GOOD and the blessings these people bring into my life. God, time and time again, has come to my rescue and picked me up out of the pit of despair.
He brings me often back to Psalm 40, and reminds me that He does not withhold His mercy from me, and that His steadfast love endures, even when I am weak and depressed. He loves me, even when I lose sight of that love and feel unlovable. I am so thankful that He rescues me over and over again! My feelings can be gateways to lies from the enemy. I have to trust in God’s Word, in His truth that is unchangeable. I am HIS, and His alone.