On Tuesday, I told you about how my youngest son screams — and how it quickly brings me to the end of my mommy rope.
Today is about you. Is there something in your life that gets on your last nerve? This is something bigger than a pet peeve, something that grinds deeper. It triggers an emotional response that’s anchored below the surface. It really gets to you.
You may feel a little like the writer of Psalm 42:5, asking, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?”
Like the psalmist, I often want to know why. Why does this thing get under my skin so easily? Why does it so quickly bring me to tears? Why am I left feeling unsettled even after I “handle it”?
We know the trigger — for me, it’s my son’s constant whining; for you, it’s something else — but we often don’t really know the root cause.
The next part of the verse offers a solution: “Hope thou in God.”
Instead of getting mired in the moment, I can look upward to my Lord, recognizing that He can un-grouch me and put me back into my right mind. But, how exactly does “hope in God” cure my crankiness?
It’s about looking to God rather than festering in that miserable mood.
Looking to God prevents my emotions from controlling my behavior.
My emotions tell me how I’m feeling, but they cannot tell me what to DO in response. When I let my emotions control my response (my behavior), I’m likely to do wrong. This is especially true with negative emotions. Ex: You’re feeling angry, so you lash out at someone. You’re afraid, so you don’t confront a problem.
1 Peter 1:13 says, “gird up the loins of your mind,” which, to me, is like tightening the straps on my thoughts, reining them in, hemming up the loose bits around my brain. 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs me to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” I don’t have to follow my crabby thoughts down a rabbit hole of self-pity and excuses.
Looking to God helps me get to the root of my bad mood.
Instead of seeking temporary relief through various escape paths — just give the kid what he wants and he’ll stop screaming; turn the TV on to distract him; put a cookie in his mouth! — it’s much more productive to face the problem. What’s the real reason I’m upset?
Instead of a quick fix, what I really crave (and need) are the “whys” from Psalm 42.
Sometimes it’s only God who can really reveal to me the underlying thoughts (usually half-truths or misconceptions) that are at the root of my ugly moods. Sometimes it’s only God who can soften my heart enough to see the truth I’m trying to avoid. Sometimes I just need God to calm the waters that Satan is troubling inside me before they boil over and burn somebody.
My son’s screams are the trigger, but they’re not what’s really bothering me. It’s these thoughts that kill me …
- My son is unhappy in my care (not true)
- I’m an inept mother (also not true)
- I’m helpless in the situation (definitely not true)
“Hope thou in God.”
Funks aren’t fun. But God won’t leave me alone when my feelings overwhelm me. He’s always there if I just raise my eyes upward.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.