One of the reasons many of us read is because we enjoy tapping in to the emotional lives of the characters portrayed in a well written book—and, if we trust the author, we look forward to an emotionally satisfying ending. In this way reading is like riding a roller coaster; we look forward to both the ups and the downs but we know we’re going to be safe at the end.
Not long ago I asked God to control my emotions. It wasn’t my most stellar prayer, since emotions are a gift that’s closely connected to our free will. It was as if I’d asked Him to take away one of the most valuable gifts He’d given me. After all, emotions are powerful, and He entrusted that power to me. He didn’t make me a robot, programmed to love and hate all the right things.
Instead of asking Him to control that gift, I needed to be more in tune to Him and what His word says about honoring Him—to monitor and then foster the emotions that take me in a direction closer, not farther, from Him. That leaves the control and responsibility in my hands, accompanied by surrender and submission that’s entirely my choice with each step of life.
But coming to that conclusion didn’t help as much as I thought it would when I faced some of the darker emotions that often come with life. Escaping into a good book helps; listening to music that honors God helps, too. Talking about my emotions with someone I love and trust, striving to be other-centered rather than self-centered is also important in times of sadness.
God blessed these kinds of efforts to get over my doldrums, but He also has a sense of humor. As many of you know, I have a handicapped son. He’s seventeen and a half years old, but functions like a two year old. He’s basically non-verbal, but he does understand a bit of language, certainly more than he can express – and he has a small collection of words himself.
He also loves music, and doesn’t mind that I have a singing voice only God and my mother would welcome. So when I sing a song he likes, he latches on to one word in the lyrics and repeats that when he wants me to sing a particular song for him. Wouldn’t you know it, when I was feeling so low, he remembered a song from literally years ago: If You’re Happy And You Know It (clap your hands, stomp your feet, shout hurray…).
Do you know that song is impossible to sing fifty times in one day and not have some part of the Happy rub off? I’m fairly convinced it was God who reminded my son about that old song, just when I needed to tap into it.
Realizing God is involved in the details of my life—that His love especially for me is found in such details—is probably the most important element in conquering those doldrums. God is in the details if we look for Him.
So . . . if you’re in those nasty old doldrums, perhaps God is in the detail of directing you to read this blog post today. He knows our needs and like the best loving Father He’s ready to meet them. I think that’s more likely than Him just wanting to hear a catchy tune, don’t you?