James 1:19-20 (ESV)
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
When it comes to feelings, it can be hard to figure out what’s real and what’s only real to you.
Think of it this way. You’re babysitting a toddler. For some unknown reason, they become obsessed with a desire to stick their chubby, slobbery little finger into an electrical socket.
You make sure the safety cover is on tight. You move the kid. You put a barricade of toys in front of it so the cute little thing won’t see it. But the cute little thing knows it’s still there. That socket looks like fun and you look like their mortal enemy. Tears, flailing arms, screaming, kicking. It’s not a pretty scene anymore.
This kid is angry! And frustrated. There’s no denying that. They might even be genuinely sad. “All I ever wanted was that electrical outlet! Life is so cruel!” It’s true, the kid has feelings—but those feelings aren’t based in truth.
Just because you’re feeling one way doesn’t mean you’ve reached the right conclusion. We all feel angry or sad when we don’t get our way, but if we listen to the wise people around us, we can gain a new perspective. We begin to understand what may seem really frustrating or feel really sad might actually be happening to us for a good reason we just can’t understand yet.
In time, you may come to understand losing a certain friendship was actually healthy for you—or them. Maybe not making it onto one team meant you had free time to start another hobby that ended up changing the course of your life for the better. Maybe you’re mad at someone for saying something that hurt you, but what if their words could help you grow if you could see past the pain they caused?
Try to slow down when you’re having strong feelings. Breathe. Think. Process. Be slow to anger like today’s reading from James tells us. But consider being slow to sadness, frustration, discouragement, or feeling left out, too. Concentrate on what good may come of a situation. Cry about it if you need to, but always remember, just because you’re feeling a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the right way to feel.
Dear Lord, help us to slow down and not give into our emotions. Help us to call upon Your name to give us the guidance that we need. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.