Friday, September 26, 2014

Toxic Emotions

Scripture Art - 2 Corinthians 12:9 - PrintSoccer Mom has tattoos that she doesn't reveal.  She conceals the art as they invoke painful reminders of decisions made amidst chaos, life decisions that tattooed her heart with shame that's embedded deep, like inked-skin.

Mr. Executive climbs relentlessly toward a corporate peak he'll never reach.  The climbing distracts him of the pain with no trigger.  It's the cascading fear, that drives him to climb, to escape.   The climbing exhausts and he numbs with the intoxicating medications that society offers.  An insatiable appetite for all the things of this world drowns the raging self-doubt churning in his soul.

I sit at a diner and listen to the waitress talk of her estranged children.  Her past haunts.  She tells of her teenage son and how he's been thrown out of school.  She says he's been labeled oppositionally defiant.  She says they're trying to work through it, but the counselors say the boy is really just angry from the abandonment of his father.  He carries an uncertainty of who he is and what it means to be a man. 

Business author Michael Hyatt writes, "In my experience there are four emotions that usually come mixed in a powerful cocktail, sure to undermine our goals: fear, uncertainty, doubt, and shame."  Hyatt contends that as he's written about these topics, many people admit their wrestling with general feelings of inadequacy.  We ask ourselves, "Would I still be accepted if people really found me out?  What if they knew I don't have it all together?"  Hyatt continues, "[the struggle with these emotions are a] universal affliction.  And it’s natural. There’s no playbook for leaders, no manual. We’re all making it up as we go. Under those circumstances, who wouldn’t feel like they might blow it?  But just because I wrestle with these four emotions doesn’t mean I have to succumb to them." 

We have the Light within us to drive out the darkness of these toxic emotions.  That Light bursts forth not when we yield some Jedi-mind-trick to tap into its power, but when we open our hands and let go of our desire to control everything in our path.  We can't embrace anything when we live tight-fisted.  We can't offer grace to another until we've first received it ourselves.

In a letter written to the early church, the Apostle Paul wrote of his own personal demons, "... and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations... At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.  Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—...I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become." (The Message).

The Light can't drive out the darkness until we turn toward it, not denying the existence of the dark, but rather choosing to live in the Light.  Blogger Ann Voskamp writes, "...all the shadows we all live with everywhere just prove there is Light."  And because of that Light, we can always get up again.  Prizefighter Jack Dempsey said, "A champion is someone who gets up when he can't."  (via John Sowers in The Heroic Path).  May the Light brighter than all darkness lift you above any toxic emotions you may face today.   

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