Engage directly or resist

By Dave Henning / April 20, 2024

“We can engage directly with that [overwhelming feeling] and take it to God, or we can resist it, trying to evade what feels uncomfortable, embarrassing, maybe even painful.  Often we choose the latter option — mostly because we’re afraid that if we engage directly, we’ll crumble under the weight of our feelings.”- Jennifer Allen

In Chapter 5 (“Experts in Evasive Measures”) of Untangle Your Emotions, Jennifer Allen refers to what she calls the Three C’s.  The Three C’s = Control, Cope, Conceal.  Often, the ‘C’ you choose depends on the specific circumstance you face.  However, one of the Three C’s serves as your default mode.  And sometimes you engage all three C’s at the same time.

Today Jennifer covers the first C.

1.  We Control.  In the hopes of making everything a tad more desirable or manageable, we try our hardest to take charge of our situation.  Or other people.  As a result, Jennifer notes, our confidence can’t help but soar.

Furthermore, seeking control preserves our hope about the world in which we live.  Because when we truly believe we control a situation, we hold on to the expectation that everything will turn out fine.  So, as we go at life with confidence and competence to spare, we believe we can:

  • out-smart our adversaries.
  • out-plan our catastrophes.
  • out-think every challenge we face.

However, Jennifer cautions, we lose something if all we do is control or manage our emotions.  We lose touch with ourselves, our need for God, and our need for each other.  In addition, because attempting to control our emotions requires great effort, it’s downright exhausting.

In conclusion, Jennifer notes why control looks so good on the surface:

“Here’s the complicated thing about control: It earns praise from everyone. . . .  You look perfectly in control and drama-free, a quality highly prized in the world around us.  I get it!  But come close and I’ll tell you . . . That’s all jacked up. . . .  Controlling our emotions is not the goal.  Healing them and expressing them in a healthy way is.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you engage directly with your emotions?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Missing the gifts of God”

About the author

Dave Henning

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