Monday, September 19, 2011

Girlfriends-in-Ministry: A Healthy Serving of Shepherd's Pie

A number of years ago, my minister-husband asked I teach a session during a conference to address the subject of Emotions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with emotions. Our emotions express our feelings of interaction with other humans. There is no sin in having emotions. In fact, the Old Testament records our Creator’s emotions in relating with His creation, His children. By His hand and breath, He has formed us with a great well of emotions.

The problem is when our emotions run away uncontrolled and lead us instead of us leading them. Because emotions are not in a solid form, it makes them difficult to handle.

The point is not to get rid of our emotions. The point is to manage or to “shepherd” these emotions with control in the right direction.

My disclaimer:  I, too, am a person full of emotions eager to be expressed in their many forms. In the past I have allowed some emotions to be out of balance…especially when I felt someone “pushed my buttons” or too many stresses of life piled on. I am not qualified to address this topic using my reserves of knowledge. Instead, I accessed credited sources, including: Managing Your Emotions by Joyce Meyer; Happiness is a Choice by Frank Minirth & Paul Meier; Blue Genes by Paul Meier; an enlightened conversation with Elizabeth A. Jones, Licensed Clinical PH.D of Christian Counseling Center and aligning all with the Holy Bible.

Taking an expository look into a childhood nursery rhyme, we'll whip up a recipe for  healthy emotions.
Little Bo Peep
Has lost her sheep
And doesn’t know where to find them.
But Jesus knows and can bring them home
Wagging their tails behind them!
"Little Bo Peep," our miniature shepherdess, represents us (you and me).

“Has lost her sheep”… Runaway Sheep represent our emotions. Ms. Peep has lost control of her emotions. When we start living totally led by emotions, we see through a skewed filter, which distorts every word and action by others. Ultimately this distortion leads us away from or out of the will of God. Decisions made are usually knee-jerk reactions based on how we “feel” at the time. 

“And doesn’t know where to find them”… Ms. Peep doesn’t know why she can’t gather her “sheep” (emotions) or can’t seem to get it together. A person who is crippled by the symptoms of broken emotions and unable to function from day-to-day should seek professional, good-quality counsel and/or Christian psychiatric care. Don’t be ashamed to get this counseling. Drs. Minirth & Meier suggest “Christian counseling is synonymous with discipleship.”

“But Jesus knows”… Jesus is the Word. And, the Word is God (John 1:1). He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). He is everywhere at the same time (Ps 139:7-12). He is with you, now (Matt. 28:20). The Word knows everything (Isaiah 40:14, Colossians 2:2-3).

“And can bring them home”…

Step 1: Face Truth
“If you live out My word (teaching), you are truly My disciples.
And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

The first thing is to face the truth and not live in denial. Admitting we are hurting from emotional wounds is the beginning of wrangling those runaway sheep.

Step 2: Forgive & Forget
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever offenses you may have.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colosians 3:13

Whether intentional or unintentional, offenses occur. One of the main causes for runaway sheep (uncontrolled emotions) is not forgiving someone or one’s self. If left to fester, these grudges will destroy you and your relationship with God and others. Yes, anger can be controlled. Read Ephesians 4:26.

Step 3: Spend Time in the Word
“Let God transform you by changing the way you think.”  Romans 12:2

It’s important to spend time each day reading the Word and applying it to our lives. When we constantly tell ourselves a lie, we’ll begin to believe that lie. In turn, when we read the Word of Truth, we begin to believe the Truth of the Word. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Step 4: Get Real with Family
Amnon, Tamar, Absalom & King David -  2 Samuel Chapters 13-19

Do all you can to resolve family/intimate relationship conflicts. Pray for the Holy Ghost to give you creative wisdom to accomplish this task. Spend time fortifying the family structure by promoting honest and open communication including opinions, allowing times of learning from mistakes, praising each other’s accomplishments, playing together, respecting one another, loving and forgiving to the fullest. Our children become us by actions and reactions. “Guard what has been entrusted to your care.” (1 Timothy 6:20)

Step 5: Build Friendships
"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." 
Philippians 2:4

God created us to be social. The above verse reinforces the idea that once you get your
eyes off of yourself, your perspective will change. Develop healthy friendships with the
same sex. Many people feel a relief simply by talking to a friend who will truly listen and, if
need be, speak the truth in love. This friend would not judge nor compromise. AND, the day
may come whereby we become everything that person was to us.

Step 6: Practice Prayer
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2
What could be more beneficial than intimate conversations with our Heavenly Father, the Great Shepherd? Prayer is the key to Christian living. Through prayer we access the Peace that should not exist in the chaos of this life. Through prayer we tap into the supernatural power able to save a person’s soul and heal broken emotions. The Holy Ghost can bring situations, people and our own personal weaknesses to light where we can target our prayers. Deciding to have an attitude of gratitude aligns the spirit with the will thus positioning us to receive from God. He meets us at the point of our need.

Step 7: Focus on Behavior
"God gives you the 'want to' [the will] and the ability to follow through [the act] to His
good purpose." Philippians 2:13 (SAMT - "Sam" Translation)

Just as Jesus comes to bring abundant life, Satan comes to destroy it. (John 10:10) He will always try to distort our way to the Way. By accessing the Word and good counsel, illumination occurs. We take responsibility for our runaway sheep. When you say, “I can’t,” you’re really saying, “I won’t.” God created in His image with a will to choose. We must employ self-dialogue and actions which bring positive change. We learn to choose or to “shepherd” our emotions.

“Wagging their tails behind them!” ... Wagging tails represent by-products of a process that involves a series of good choices or good shepherding. These byproducts are Joy, Happiness and Peace. “How long will it take to experience these by-products, again?” It’s your choice.

P.S.  My apologies for the eternal length of this blog post. I pray you find it a recipe you'll pass along to a friend-in-need. Please leave a comment, I would so love to connect with you!

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