(Photo/Artwork Credit: Jordan Chastain)
I’ve seen the stars at night, glittering in beauty and wonder. My eyes have seen storm clouds, ominous and threatening to destroy all that is good. My heart has been ecstatic with jubilation during moments of Life’s richness and blessings. Heartache has brought tears and lonely nights, bringing me to my knees in despair.
The human heart is a profound mystery filled with fascination, imagination, brokenness, desperation, longing, love, and hate. Emotions are the heartbeat of the human heart, leading us in so many different directions, from hope to fear, love to hate.
Emotions sometimes reflect the true story taking place within our souls; however, often emotions are distorted images, broken reflections of who we long to become.
I love fantasy/sci-fi literature and film, probably because I can relate to the narrative more than any other genre. Whether it’s The Lord of The Rings, The Matrix, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Inception, or Star Wars, the journeys filled with despair, hope, meaning, and purpose absolutely awaken my soul…Maybe that’s why so many can relate, as well. We all know what it’s like to be Frodo, searching for answers to the darkness we carry with us through life. We all have experienced the questions and confusions of Neo, wondering if our lives have been lived in an imaginary world devoid of true meaning. Every one of us knows what it’s like to be Harry Potter – filled with great potential, but misunderstood by others around us.
Our lives are a story – a fantasy – often a journey through the land of emotion. But what if we have the choice to break free from the control of our emotions, diving into a different journey towards hope and a better future?
I recently spoke with a high school student who struggles with bi-polar disorder, which has been incredibly difficult for her, especially as a high school student facing the pressures that our youth face in this generation. Her Twitter feed is often filled with fear, insecurity, and desperation for something in which to find hope. While we were chatting through Twitter the other night, I shared with her a valuable reality that I have learned through many years of finding healing through therapy: though our feelings are often out of control, our decision on how we will respond within the darkness is ours to decide.
Our feelings will often come in waves, washing over us without our permission. For many who struggle with a mental disorder, like myself, this can be an incredibly lonely and destructive experience. But we do have a choice while the storm is raging around us: we can choose to breathe, to accept the momentary pain without trying to fix it, and to remember our true identity is not in our disorder, but rather in the fact that we are loved by God. This is incredibly hard and took years for me to accept, but it is incredibly true and life changing.
More often than ever, when fear and anxiety creep up on me in the mountains of confusion, I am able to accept the fear for what it is, to stop trying to fix the feelings, and to look forward to the future with hope that I am healing. Our emotions are often beyond our control, but our perspective is ours to decide.
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden
Humanity – especially those of us journeying through life with a mental disorder – has been controlled by the dark forces of emotion for far too long. We are invited into a different story, a different adventure: the epic journey towards our true identities that cannot be shaken by the winds of emotion.
Let us not concern ourselves with that which we cannot do, because that will only lead to despair. Rather, let us set our sights on what is true, who God says we are, the beauty that surrounds us, and the hope that we have for the future.
If you’re struggling with waves of emotion beyond your control, my prayer is that you will begin to see yourself, God, and healing with completely new eyes.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” – Philippians 4:8-9