It was one of those days, and it was a busy one. For the schedule to work, we would have to operate like a well-oiled machine. My family, however, consists of real humans, not machine parts. They also seemed to have adopted the motto “Why think for yourself when you can just ask Mom?” and I was annoyed by the constant questions. To top it all off, a misunderstanding with an acquaintance caused my kid to miss out on something fun.
By the end of the day I was mad. But there was nobody to be mad at. The evening’s schedule was confusing. My acquaintance had been trying to help. Nothing could be done about any of the evening’s foibles. And the kid who missed out on the fun event really wasn’t that torn up about it. And though I knew I was being irrational, that just annoyed me even more.
A couple of hours later the real reason for my mood became clear: migraine. My migraines are usually mild enough that I can take medication and carry on as normal, but this time I was down for the count. All I could do was lie still and wait for the pain and nausea to pass.
The interesting thing about migraine is that the process begins before the sufferer feels it. Sometimes I have an aura an hour or so before it hits. Sometimes I notice that I stumble over words a lot in the hours leading up to it. Some people yawn a lot. And, like what happened to me that night, some people become easily agitated.
After the migraine fog lifted, I thought back to the previous day. My irritation, which had felt quite justified at the time, seemed ridiculous. I was thankful that circumstances kept me from expressing my frustration, because now the situation then seemed incredibly petty.
Anybody who has spent time with a tired or hungry toddler understands that our physical bodies affect our emotions. But in the heat of the moment we often don’t realize it. As a teenager I felt very weepy one week of the month. Now? I either wonder why everyone has to keep breathing so loud, or I am convinced that something horrible will happen and it will all be my fault.
As my middle-age hormones continue to mess with my mind, I find I have to be careful to focus on the truth rather my feelings. But what can we tell ourselves when our feelings are getting the upper hand? What is the truth?
Our emotions are God-given, but they are also fallen
As Allender and Longman say in their book Cry of the Soul, “Our emotions connect our inner world to the ups and downs of life.” Just because they aren’t always accurate, doesn’t mean they should always be ignored. The joy and delight we feel on earth is a foretaste of the greater joy of heaven. And sometimes sadness and anger are legitimate reactions to the trouble of the world. It is appropriate to mourn when we encounter evil.
Taking care of my physical body helps
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is fleeing from Jezebel. In his weariness and fear, he sits down under a tree and wishes for death. Then he sleeps, and after he sleeps, the Lord sends him food. I think it’s interesting that part of God’s help involved meeting his physical needs.
I’m not 25 anymore. Although it’s important to care for our bodies at all ages, I’m more sensitive to it now. I fail a lot in this area, but when I take the time to eat properly, rest, and exercise, I can handle life much better.
Just because I feel it, doesn’t mean I need to express it
Proverbs 29: 11 is a verse I find myself going to a lot these days: “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” My emotions often come on like a firestorm. Even though I may feel very strongly about something, that’s usually not the best time for me to speak. I can’t take back angry words spoken in the heat of the moment. It’s better if I take some time to think things through.
Keep doing what needs to be done
Some people like to keep moving when they’re upset. I prefer to curl up in a ball and whimper. But life doesn’t stop just because I’ve decided to host a private pity party. Pushing through with the daily tasks of life often makes me feel better. Even if it doesn’t, at least I’m not behind when I emerge from the funk.
Be thankful for God’s grace
I have always been an impulsive, emotional person. But God is refining me. I sometimes have to pray through gritted teeth, but he is faithful to give me the strength I need when I ask for it.
Sadly, I don’t always remember to do this. In the days since I began this post, I’ve had to apologize to someone for angry, hurtful words I said, words that she did not deserve. I’m embarrassed about what I said. I can’t take the words back. All I can do is point to the perfect Savior. He lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died. Through him, all my sins are forgiven. Even the hasty, hurtful words I sometimes speak.