However, in the moment when I feel totally frustrated because someone has wronged me in some way, my emotions flood to the surface and beg to take hold of me;—beg to let me forget my Christianity for just a moment and speak or act with unfiltered words that harm or an attitude that is unlike Christ instead of remaining calm, controlled and filled with grace and honor for this person—a person just like me whom Christ also died for and whom I should love, even in the midst of their wrongdoing and even when this person doesn’t seem worthy of love or grace.
This is a great struggle I have battled throughout my experience as a Christian: not allowing my emotions to control my words and actions. Not allowing my emotions to cause me to forget who I am: I am His. Always. In every situation. Not just when it’s convenient or when I feel like being His.
When I give myself over to my emotions and let them rule my words or actions, I’m left either feeling shameful because I hurt someone or placing blame on the other person for the things I said or did. “Susie should not have done that, and I wouldn’t have had to say or do that to her.” But the reality is, it’s not Susie’s fault. I have a choice of words, attitude and actions. As hard as it is in the moment to realize this, it’s true: I have a choice. As hard and inconvenient as it might feel to carefully choose words and actions that are genuinely kind and loving toward someone who has wronged me, it’s not their fault if I don’t. I shouldn’t let their actions dictate how I react. Nor should I allow my emotions to. When I allow Susie or my emotions to control what I say and how I act, I am no longer practicing Godly restraint and self-control.
So how can I control myself when my emotions are begging to take hold of me—when I’ve been wronged or when I have a serious bout of PMS (NO, PMS is NOT an excuse in the Bible to act ugly)...
I’ve found that the best solution for me has been to purposefully decide my course of action before I’m PMSing and before someone does something that causes me to want to let go. I want to decide what I will do in a moment like this when I am calm and collected with my emotions at bay. This is the plan of action I will use in the future when something gets under my skin begging me to use hurtful, unfiltered words or act explosively. We have to have control. We can’t just let whatever we want come out of our mouths, even if it’s true and even if the person needs to hear it if it is going to break them down. And we can’t just fly off the handle when we get upset even if the person deserves it.
If you have ever had trouble with PMS or emotional tirades, as I have, here’s a plan that has really helped me. It’s adapted from the book Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst. (Tip: When I realize I need to work on something, I like to look for self-help books: Everyone can use a little therapy. And everyone has areas of their Christianity they can work on. We should always personally be working on the parts of our Christianity that are weaker to make them stronger. If you think you aren’t weak in an area, just ask one of your friends or family members at church who will be honest with you. You’d be surprised at what others can see in you that you can’t see in yourself. And don’t be hurt: be thankful for their honesty and for helping you become better for Christ.)
Tips for controlling our words, actions and attitude in the midst of raw emotions:
1. Remember the person you are upset with is to be loved and honored and is not the enemy here.
And get this: Extending love, compassion, and grace in a situation that deserves unfiltered, unkind words, retaliation and punishment shows more about your character than the character of the other person. And choosing a gentle, loving reply when you feel like being defensive or upset is not a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of a rare and Godly strength: It’s a sign of self-control.
Finally, when you are striving to honor this person when they have wronged you, remember that this person is not your enemy—the devil is. When you lose control, you let the devil win, even if your Earthly foe “loses” because of an ugly response on your part.
2. Remember who you are.
And that’s what I repeat to myself when I am tempted to sin—when I am tempted to let my emotions control my words and behaviors. “Amber, remember who you are. You’re a daughter of the king. Start acting like it.”
I’m more than some firecracker, explosive personality. More than someone who uses hurtful words without caring about the feelings of others. More than someone who shames herself and blames others for her hurtful words or selfish reactions after-the- fact. I’m better than that. I must remember who I am.
3. Remember that it could be worse.
4. Use post-it note reminders in random places with scripture or advice.
- Remember who you are.
- If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’ve had a pretty good day.
5. Look for your fault in the situation.
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; - Romans 12:10
Keep in mind that when there is a relationship issue, very rarely is there nothing you have done to contribute to the problem, as much as we feel this way at times. Instead of solely focusing on what the other person has done, humble yourself by searching for your fault in the situation.
6. You can only control your actions and words. Not those of others.
I hope these six things can help you as much as they have helped me on your road to becoming the kind, meek, quiet, self-controlled Christian woman that God calls us to be even in the midst of our emotions. It’s not easy to filter our words or control our anger all the time. In fact, sometimes it goes against every grain of what we feel like doing. It takes work and will feel unnatural to us at first. But the first time that you respond kindly to someone who deserves brutal honesty or heated words, you will feel so much power—the power of Christ in you. You didn’t let the devil win. You practiced self- control when your emotions were begging to dictate your words, attitude or actions. And you will feel so good when you walk away instead of feeling shame or placing blame on those around you for your ungodly words or conduct.