But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:16-17 ESV
It was a rainy, cold Thursday morning. I had only been awake about 2 hours, yet I was already unbelievably frustrated. Despite the fact that I got myself showered and dressed, my two youngest ones dressed and fed and out the door before 9:00 a.m. unfortunately I was still running behind. I dropped the 2 year old at preschool first because I had a well-check scheduled for my 5-year old at the pediatrician’s office just up the road. My appointment was at 9:00 a.m. and I pulled in the parking lot at 9:10. I rushed myself and my little boy out of the car, into the rain, and to the front door to check-in. Except, I was told by the receptionist that since I was late she would need to check with the doctor to see if we could still be seen.
I was utterly exasperated.
The receptionist came back and said that the doctor had a full schedule so we would need to reschedule our appointment. Oh. No. She. Didn’t! I wanted to scream at her.
Don’t you realize the shuffling it took just to get here? Don’t you know that I desperately needed to drop off my 2 year old at preschool first so that I could have the luxury of bringing just one child to the office with me? Don’t you know what a pain it is to now reshuffle my schedule to work in a check-up next week? Don’t you know how many times I have sat in your waiting room with three children waiting forever for one of your doctors or nurses to see my sick child and now you are telling me that I have to reschedule over 10 measly minutes?! I could feel my blood pressure rising. I could feel the tears well up. I could think of about 59 things that I wanted to say to the receptionist and the entire doctor’s office at that moment, yet not one of them would change my situation.
I thought about blaming, yelling, justifying, screaming, crying, or just being plain ugly right then and there. But instead I took a deep breath, I seriously prayed for the Holy Spirit to restrain my tongue and my emotions in that moment, and asked her when we could reschedule. I’d like to say that I choose to be led by the Holy Spirit in this manner all the time, but I definitely do not.
As I stood there in the pediatrician’s office having so many different thoughts swirling through my mind and words of anger sitting on the tip of my tongue, the Spirit deep within me yielded me to stop, breathe, and be controlled in my actions and my words. I did it right this time but I don’t always allow myself to be led by the spirit when my emotions are out of control. God’s word teaches us that the Holy Spirit was sent to us as a Helper (John 14:15-16) and when our emotions threaten to overtake us, the Spirit is there to restrain us. We can let our emotions swirl out of control, but most of the time it is not going to change the situation in front of us. If we don’t keep our angry emotions in check it can lead to harsh words, bitterness, resentment, regret, shame, and guilt. Did I have a right to be angry? Maybe I did, but even in my anger, I am called by Christ to refrain from sin. Emotions are a good thing. But emotions out of control can reap havoc.
I did reschedule my appointment for the next week and gave myself a little extra time to get there. I was still disappointed and frustrated, but over the next few hours, the Lord calmed my feelings and reminded me that I chose the right way to handle that situation. A little nuisance in my schedule was not worth spewing angry words and blame at another.
The Lord God created our emotions and gives them to us as a way to deal with the ups and downs of life. Scripture tells us that Jesus experienced all ranges of emotions during his earthly ministry - anger, compassion, hurt, joy, sorrow, happiness, and even laughter. So it seems to me that emotions are designed with a purpose to help us feel, learn, grow, and mature. The next time you are experiencing an emotion that is on the verge of being out of control, ask the Lord to refocus your thoughts, hold your tongue, and guard your actions.
Oh Lord help us to restrain our words, refocus our hearts, and renew our minds. Please help us to call upon Your Spirit to dwell deep within us and restrain us when we want to spin out of control. Forgive us for the times we choose to be led by the flesh and give us grace to ask for forgiveness for those who have been the recipient of our out of control feelings. Remind us that our emotions are designed by You but it is up to us how we react to them. Thank You for creating us in Your Image and help us to respond to our emotions in a way that shows love to others and ultimately honors You.