Unresolved Emotions

by Shelley Hitz

This week has been an emotionally difficult week. Up, down, up, down. And really for no particular reason. Or so I thought. Then, I realized I was allowing my emotions to pile up and get the best of me.

My problem? Unresolved emotions.

Lots of little things over the past month all adding up to a heap of "blah" with a dash of "anxiety"...contributing to my unbelief and fear.

Then, I started to think about the unbelief of the Israelites again.

I began to wonder if some of their unresolved emotions could have led to their unbelief, fear and insecurity. I remembered the tragedy and trauma the Israelites went through when "Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: 'Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.'" Exodus 1:22

Remember...the baby boys that were killed during this time were Moses' age. And so the parents and brothers and sisters that went through this trauma probably constituted many of the Israelites that Moses led out of Egypt. It was the generation after Moses that would not have remembered this difficult time. They would have just heard stories about the murders of these baby boys.

As I thought of what the Israelites went through, I began to cry for them. So much grief. I can almost hear the mothers wailing from the heartbreak of it all. So much sorrow. It didn't seem fair.

And I began to wonder if the Israelites possibly had some unresolved emotions....specifically, unresolved grief.

Did their grief paralyze them when any bad circumstances happened and set them up to respond with fear, anxiety, uncertainty and unbelief?

I wonder.

They definitely seemed to have trust issues as you read about them in Exodus. Maybe because they didn't feel provided for in the past?

Again, I wonder.

Moving through the emotional cycle - does it look familiar to anyone?

I think we can all relate in some way to what the Israelites went through. At least, I know I can.

As I was talking to my mom who has a degree in counseling, she suggested that we tend to go through the following steps as we process our emotions. (In parenthesis I included how the Israelites' tended to respond in each step).

1. Circumstance / Trigger (not having food or water)
2. Emotional response (unbelief, fear, anger)
3. Coping Mechanism (complained and talked about going back to Egypt - at least it was predictable and secure)
4. Re-anchor in God (unfortunately, most of them didn't seem to make it to this step)

My lesson in this:

#1 I need to come to God and ask Him to empower me to work through emotions as they come so they don't pile up and build within me.

#2 I need to ask God to show me the triggers in my life and how to recognize them. Then, ask Him to empower me to re-anchor in Him instead of just going with the wave of my emotions. In doing that, I believe I can go from #3 the emotional response directly to #5 re-anchor in God, bypassing all my meaningless coping mechanisms.

I can't do it in my own strength. It is only possible when empowered by Christ.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

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