Yesterday, I woke up feeling pretty blah. Not physically-- spiritually and emotionally. It's actually been a struggle for me recently. I was trying to pray, trying to feel at peace, trying to do what I needed to do inwardly and outwardly. And it seemed like even just depending on God's grace was a struggle. I've been feeling like I'm on a roller coaster recently, with all these highs and lows. Or, I guess, more appropriately, at a theme park full of roller coasters and lots of long lines. Lots of wanting to give up while I stand around and wait in the hot sun with lukewarm water in my water bottle, and lots of finally this part while I actually get to ride something. It's not even extreme highs and lows, though, really. It's just gradual ups and downs.

I was wondering how to even write about this because it felt so hard to put into words (another symptom of the condition, I suppose) without sounding like my life is falling apart (it isn't) and the more I prayed about it, the more manageable it seemed (huh, I wonder why). Part of it was remembering some scripture, and then finding other scripture I hadn't thought about or hadn't been looking for, and then also reading a few sentences in a Bible study book I'm working on with the boys.

To be honest, I shouldn't be surprised by all of this. It's a battlefield for me right now and I should be prepared for it. I know I should be because I've been praying a dangerous prayer: Lord, please help me learn to rule over my emotions instead of letting them rule over me.

Have you ever done that? I'd gotten to the point in the past few weeks where I'd realized how destructive my emotions were becoming. I was choosing not to do things because I didn't feel like it at the time. Simple disagreements or misunderstandings between Adam and I were taking hours to resolve because even if he needed some time to just think or process stuff, I'd demand that he keep talking until I, gasp, felt better. Conflicts left me feeling like I was falling to pieces.

And the Holy Spirit, thank God, nudged me over and over until I realized that the root of the problem was not Adam, or tiredness, or hormones, but the simple fact that I'd started to let my emotions rule me. I was treating them like they were Gospel truth instead of remembering what I knew to be true and telling my emotions to get in line.

It was affecting my parenting, my role as a wife, as a babysitter, as a child of God.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say was? I meant is. This is something that I'm still dealing with. It's still a battlefield. I just know that after yesterday, I'm even more equipped with the proper weapons and understanding.

First of all, I was reminded that the heart is deceitful. While I was feeling uneasy (not spiritually burdened or convicted, both of which I think are different) and just sort of blah, even fearful, I was assuming that the way I felt meant something. You know, in the big, this is my entire day, sort of way. And I remembered that passage in Jeremiah about the heart being deceitful above all else. I'm going to go ahead and put a longish passage from that chapter in here, even though this blog is going to be crazy-long.

Jeremiah 17:5-10 :

Thus says the Lord,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the Lord.
“For he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
A land of salt without inhabitant.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord.
“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
“I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.

When I let my emotions rule my heart, my day, my thoughts, my life, am I not trusting in mankind? Am I not making flesh my strength, in some way? But I can choose to trust in God regardless of how well or poorly I feel. My heart is sick. I am being made new. But my flesh is corrupted and, like limbs with gangrene, past saving. I need a new heart and part of that new heart is choosing to not let the old one keep making decisions for me. Its wisdom is unsound, its strength a false one.

The verse of the day on yesterday was something I needed to see. My friend Maria over at The Joyful Home blogged about it as part of her Wednesday series of just posting the Word, without much comment.

He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.
Ecclesiastes 11:4-5 
(Please, go read the rest of this chapter; it's worth it.)

I cannot focus on the temporal things of the world and use that to dictate my behavior. I cannot look to the fleeting moods of my heart to dictate when and how I seek God, do my work, serve with my hands. And when I am feeling blah, I need to be very, very careful to not start acting and talking like God is far from me or uninvolved in my day. God is present. I know this. (Point in fact,'s verse of the day TODAY is: "The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." Zephaniah 3:17)

God is in my midst. He dwells, as Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians, in my heart. I am a temple. And I do not know the activity of God. I do not. Regardless of how I feel or what I see, even when I see blessings and feel good about my day, I do not know the activity of God. I cannot use my emotions alone to gauge whether or not God is working, providing, saving, correcting, shouting with joy, or quiet in His love for me.

Finally, why am I allowed to feel this way? If God is working, if He loves me, if He's made me new, why do I struggle? Paul talks about this. My boys and I also read about it in The Practice of the Presence of God yesterday. This, by the way, was my Bible reading for yesterday. Isn't it amazing how God works? I don't know His activity, but sometimes, I sure do recognize it after the fact. I can't imagine how different my day would have been if I'd decided to skip reading. Another lesson: Read the Word, regardless of how you feel about it.

I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5 

Paul is talking to the Corinthians here about when he was visiting them and sharing the Gospel. Paul, that bold and eloquent writer, spoke to them while this was going on in his heart: Weakness. Fear. Much trembling. He felt unpersuasive. 

So God would have the glory. So it wouldn't be the success of man. 

Right before reading that in 1 Corinthians, I read these passages in The Practice of the Presence of God:

In cleansing us from all our impurities, God desires to humble us and often allows us to go through a number of trials or difficulties to that end. 
The more we aspire to be perfect, the more dependent we are on the grace of God. We begin to need His help with every little thing and at every moment, because without it we can do nothing.
This year has been a year of learning to doubt. Of learning to doubt myself. My own conviction that how I feel is an accurate and just response to situations, conversations, to life. It's not just a matter of addressing my "need to be right," but addressing the previously unquestioned assurance that I am. There are some things, like faith in Christ's saving work on the cross and resurrection, that I do not need to doubt. But my heart? Yeah, that's worth doubting. It's a dirty, filthy liar.

Is feeling things bad? No, not at all. I'm not advocating a Vulcan-like withdrawal from all emotion. Jesus felt things and it wasn't sin. God still feels things.

But my feelings should not be my master. Jesus' feeling of not wanting to die, which is, I would say, a pretty valid feeling from a human point of view, did not trump His obedience. My feeling of blah should not get to decide for me, "This is going to be a pretty terrible day," or "Adam should talk about this with you until you feel better."

Death to the dead and dying things. I must decrease, He must increase. When I am humbled, when I have to struggle and spend every five minutes depending on God's grace in prayer, when I must pray constantly for His strength to just do the dishes and speak kindly to my children-- those mornings are mornings that I need to remind me of just how much I need Him. To look back on my day and say, "Even in these mundane things, to God be the glory, for no matter how much I feel like I should be able to manage this without help, I am wretched and made well only in Him."

Lord, I need your quiet love today. Don't I always?