“Oh the havoc that is wrought and the tragedy, the misery and the wretchedness that are to be found in the world simply because people do not know how to handle their own feelings!” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
My in-laws have a dog named Bailey that my four-year-old son Jack loves to put on a leash and drag around the yard. Poor patient Bailey! You can tell he’d rather be snoozing on the rug, but what choice does he have? He’s on the leash and Jack is running around in circles. So Bailey runs around in circles.
When it comes to my fluctuating feelings (which spike at a certain time every month) I sometimes feel like Bailey on a leash. I often follow my feelings around in circles, forgetting that I am the owner and the leash should be on my feelings instead.
If I feel irritable, I might make an unkind remark. If I feel depressed, I may cry. If I feel fearful, I might become withdrawn. If I feel despair, I want to curl up and go back to sleep. Obviously I don’t need to attend obedience school! No, I need to handle my feelings instead of letting my feelings handle me. It’s “Way of Escape #1” from the hormonal maze.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones elaborates in his book (which we highly recommend) Spiritual Depression:
“Avoid the mistake of concentrating overmuch on your feelings...Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central. If you put them there you are of necessity doomed to be unhappy because you are not following the order that God himself has ordained...After all, what we have in the Bible is Truth; it is not an emotional stimulus, it is not something primarily concerned to give us a joyful experience. It is primarily Truth, and Truth is addressed to the mind, God’s supreme gift to man; and it is as we apprehend and submit ourselves to truth that the feelings follow.”
By apprehending and submitting ourselves to Truth, we put a leash on our feelings and they must follow. Granted, they may follow slowly at first, but eventually, as we put Truth at the center of our lives, our feelings will fall into line. What is this Truth? Dr. Lloyd-Jones again:
“Put at the centre the only One who has a right to be there, the Lord of Glory, Who so loved you that He went to the Cross and bore the punishment and the shame of your sins and died for you. Seek Him, seek His face, and all other things that be added unto you.”
Only the Truth of the Gospel is more powerful than our fluctuating emotions.
So no matter how your hormones are raging today, or no matter how much Valentine’s Day might leave you feeling lonely, disappointed and depressed, put at the center the only One who has the right to be there: Our Savior! And tell your feelings to heel.