Emotions versus sin

It was a tough week and I felt frustrated and wanted to cry. The more I thought about curling up into a ball and sobbing, the more I became angry with myself, since there really wasn’t any “good” reason to cry. I didn’t like this battle that was brewing up inside me, so I took it to God.

In telling God about how I was feeling, I started to realize how we have categorized emotions as being good or bad. Crying is what little babies do, since they can’t do anything else. While it’s accepted in children, it seems to be accepted in very limited circumstances as adults. We’re supposed to just “deal” with whatever comes our way. Yet, just like infants, the world can sometimes overwhelm us beyond our ability to explain or even to process. While one or two things may not be upsetting, when you have four or five things, from different areas of life happening all at once, sometimes a good cry is what is needed. No, it won’t change the circumstances, but it can be cathartic. It allows us to pause and to do something, especially when the events around us are out of our control and influence. While there are many emotions that can prompt us to cry, the action of crying can be beneficially soothing and calming.

Anger is another emotion that has bad connotations. However, it is not the emotion itself that is a sin, but rather how we react to the anger that can lead us astray. When we feel anger bubbling up, rather than grabbing the closest thing and hurling it across the room, acknowledging that we are angry is one step to diffusing questionable behavior. Another is to identify why we are feeling this way. Anger may really be many little things that have built up. Anger seems to kick in when we have reached our capacity of processing little events impacting our lives. All too often it seems the switch is turned on by another person’s actions, yet if we really stop and think, whatever the other person did is really not an offense that deserves the emotion. Most times our anger outbursts are not of the righteous sort resulting in overturning money tables at a temple. Yet we shouldn’t be afraid to turn to God when we are angry. Jesus knows and experienced all of the emotions during His time on earth. The emotion of anger is nothing to be ashamed of, but if we don’t turn towards God to help us through it, our actions may be regretful.

God has given us the gift of different emotions. While the thought of being happy all the time sounds nice in theory, if we only had one emotion, happiness may not be it. It is times of pain, anger, and suffering that allows us to appreciate and embrace the times of joy, peace, and happiness. And no matter what our emotions are, they are most welcomed to be expressed and shared with God. He can truly take whatever emotions we have and help us to grow into the best versions of ourselves.

Forgiving mistakes

We all make mistakes. Some are big and some are small. Some we can easily forget while others haunt us much longer than they should. We know we need to forgive others’ mistakes that impact us, but how well  do we forgive ourselves?

Our free will gives us the ability to choose, but our fallen human nature means that we won’t always make the correct decision. Some mistakes result in sin, while others are just merely mistakes with no significant impact. Hopefully we will always be able to learn something from the mistakes we make. A mistake is an event in time; you cannot go back to change it. You may be able to correct it after the mistake is made — or perhaps make amends for any damage done. Unless someone actually invents a time machine, you cannot go back and change your action. You have to live with your mistakes: major and minor, catastrophic and insignificant. 

For those mistakes that we have trouble recovering from, we need to reach out to God for assistance. God has written the book on forgiveness; it is the Bible. From the beginning, man has offended God and God has forgiven him. He takes the mistakes man makes and weaves an amazing story. Even with the mistakes that David made, God turned him into the greatest king Israel had ever seen. Through his descendants, God brings His own Son, Jesus, into the world as our Savior. We may never see or know the good that God has been able to achieve by the mistakes we make, but we need to trust that He can make something beautiful out of them. 

Rather than getting stuck in the moment when we realize our mistake, we must offer it up to God and ask Him to help correct it. The road may be bumpy while God is working, and His timing is rarely our timing, but God will not abandon us in our discomfort. He is walking right beside us, holding our hand through it all. To remain in misery because of a mistake is to turn away from God. He will help us to forgive ourselves, if we allow Him. 

Catholic Girl Journey

Temper, temper

Although I was trying not to pay attention to the TVs in the gym while I was working out, I couldn’t help but notice some scenes from the Bruce Willis movie, the only non-sport choice running that day. The closed caption option for the programs was turned on and I was able to understand a bit of the movie. The scene that got me thinking was an exchange where the villain chided the hero for losing his temper during a phone call.

My temper has gotten the best of me more times that I care to admit. Sometimes I’ve excused it, explaining it as being passionate about the topic at hand. But when you pause and think about it, losing one’s temper is basically getting frustrated at the inability to control a situation, to communicate our point of view so that another can understand it, or to have the events unfold the way we want them. It harkens back to the temptation of the serpent to Eve, if she ate the fruit, she would be like a god. Who doesn’t want to be able to know and control events and situations? The only thing we have control over, is our reaction, and even then it is a struggle.

We may wonder why God allows these occurrences to happen, especially if they will tempt us to react in a way that causes us to sin. But as long as there is free will, people will be able to make choices that affect us in ways that provoke our temper. These are valuable opportunities to learn what triggers our buttons, so that when we realize we are starting to build up steam, we can ask God for guidance and help. After all, He is the one in control. He may ask us to be humble and open in the situation. Other times He may ask us to be gentle and merciful in our correction of another. In all our responses, we need to express the love that God has shown us.

Some situations may be easier than others, but God is giving us a lifetime of opportunities to practice, along with His grace and mercy when we fail to hold our temper. Just because we get it wrong sometimes, is not a reason to give up, just a reason to try harder next time.