Years in the Comfort Culture made us emotionally soft.
If we don’t feel like doing something, we don’t do it.
If we don’t feel like believing something, we don’t believe it.
Folks like to call this authenticity, but it’s really just adolescence. Like a fourteen-year-old, we treat our emotions as some sort of right, the truest part of our existence. If we don’t feel love, we think we are no longer in love; if we don’t feel God, we think maybe he’s not around anymore. We coddle our feelings when what we need to do is bring them under the rule of Christ, just like our thought life. We build emotional resilience by not letting them control our perspective or our reaction to things. Simply because fear sweeps over you in the night doesn’t mean you have to give way to it.
We honor our emotions by acknowledging them. We bridle our emotions by keeping them subject to truth.
Let me remind you here of the importance of our attachment to God. Emotional fortitude is not based in severity but in security. As Mark Matousek wrote in an article for Psychology Today, “Having found a secure base in the world, according to psychologist John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, the child learns emotional resilience.” (Meeting Eyes of Love. How Empathy is Born in Us) We operate from a base of love and acceptance, blessing and assurance.
Remember—when Jesus tells us “don’t be alarmed,” “don’t let your heart be troubled,” “be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down,” (Mark 16:6; John 14:1; Luke 21:34) he’s loving us and treating us like grown-ups, assuming that we can control our emotions.
You say something you regret. You drop the ball on a project. You feel terrible. But you say to yourself, Just because I made a mistake doesn’t mean I’m a failure. I am deeply loved. I am accepted in Christ. I’m telling you—this sort of emotional resilience changes your life.
As the world turns further and further from God, you will be sorely tempted to surrender some of your core convictions, if not all of them. The temptation will come over your emotions, your feelings—it doesn’t feel like God is listening; it doesn’t feel like he’s coming through. You must not let those emotions undermine your faith.
And that’s the memo.
By John Eldredge from Resilient