Living Below Emotional Means


I don’t remember what current fear I was sharing in a phone call with my youngest daughter, Jeanne-Marie. Nor do I remember when. I do remember where. I was living in a small cabin on a Minnesota lake. She said I would be such a witness for God, if I could just come to realize, understand and accept that God did not give us a spirit of fear. She likely quoted this verse from Timothy. I was fairly Biblically illiterate then. I had a huge Bible given to me by my mother but I seldom opened it. I read voraciously, did from the time I was four, but not the Bible and not any book that would help me grow in understanding the awesome grace of God. Truthfully, I was wandering confused at that time, trying to figure out my life after a 25 year marriage ended in divorce. I alternated between running as fast as I could without any direction or goal and hibernating lakeside.Jeanne-Marie repeated that verse and insight a number of times over the years. I became a Bible reader and studier not long after that first conversation. Eventually I found the verse she cited. My life path changed when I understood the Gospel, knew my long list of sins, confessed them and began thanking God for His grace. Still Jeanne-Marie was right about a spirit of fear dominating my life too often. My world was easily shaken by events, be it illness or a crisis with a family member or a friend. I was really good at conjuring up worst case scenarios. And I was prideful over my emotional strength in the face of hard challenges. I would weep and wail and then carry on no matter what. Of course I could live behind dikes for three weeks in a flood, care for my mom after breast cancer surgery, watch a son weep over life’s harsh disappointments. I hid well the sick fear that stalked me silently and steadily.As I grew in faith, I came to understand that fear and worry are sins. They reveal a lack of trust in the sovereign God. I began to call on God when fear knocked softly or loudly on my heart. Fear became an enemy. As fear subsided, I became increasingly aware of my intense emotional reactions to hurts and disappointments experienced by my family, as well as to joyful events. I rode a roller coaster of emotions, always had. In fact I prayed to live life intensely as a girl. I didn’t want to miss any of those peak moments. Recently, our family has gone through a season of difficulties and challenges. I suddenly did not want to over react, to weep and wail, to ask why me, why us, God? I wanted calmness, to rest in my trust in God. As I prayed, I began asking for a calm spirit. Then I asked for the Holy Spirit to help me live under my emotional means. We pray for help to live below our financial means. I want to live below my emotional means. I want to feel things. God created me as an emotional being but not to have my emotions run me ragged. As I repeat that prayer and ask others to pray that for me, a strange and new calm has filled me. I am calm and at peace no matter what comes my way, and stuff just keeps on coming. I revisited 2 Timothy 1:7 and noticed that self-control is in that same verse. Funny I never noticed it before. If I have self-control, I will live below my emotional means. That’s my prayer and I know God hears and answers prayers that line up with His will and plan for our lives. 2 Tim 1:7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. God of all, Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, Grace Giver, please help those of us who struggle with any aspect of self-control to be filled with the spirit of power, love and self-control. Thank you for the answer to this prayer. I am already experiencing it. Amen.

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