Janet Smith ©gardenministries.org April 2019/2020
Emotional maturity means we have learned how to fully trust and abide in our caregiving, Good Shepherd’s leadership. We are able to process our emotions, especially those created by pain and disappointment, from a place feeling intimately confident in God’s love.
Without the sense of being extravagantly loved by God, we are unable to trust and abide in our caregiving Shepherd’s leadership. Instead, we process painful disappointments through stressful cycles of pain and anger, mostly relying on soulish fight-or-flight instincts. This approach feeds a victim mentality and never leads to a peaceful resolve. With the right approach, we can rebound and recover from disappointment.
The first step to finding the right tools is to find the right toolbox. Who and what are we looking to for our answers? Are we trusting God and submitting to how He exercises His leadership in our life or are we still mad at Him? It may be just that simple. But can we answer the question honestly? If we can, we will have to take responsibility for our bad behaviors (and perhaps that explains why we often choose to stick our head in the sand and stay ignorant or try to push the blame on others). But honest answers to that question is a step in the right direction.
If we learn to process pain and disappointment by looking to God, waiting on Him, and submitting to His Way, we are in the right toolbox and we will find right answers. With God’s Truth, our emotional responses to pain and disappointment will mature and eventually feel less painful and disappointing.
Ask this question: do my fiery trials leave me feeling more like a failure than a victor? If the answer is failure, then we are not processing our disappointments from a place of abiding in the Presence of the Holy Spirit. We also forget that the way of the cross is painful and we are stuck in a cycle of self-pity thinking we should be treated better than we are. This is because our pride is keeping us from processing pain and disappointment submitted in vulnerable trust of the Spirit of Truth’s leadership.
This pride leads to a sense of shame and we feel rejected by God. When we feel rejected by Him, we won’t trust Him, and mistrust of God is unbelief. Can we see the downward spiral of sticking our head in the sand and doing nothing because we are afraid that the lies may be true? Thankfully, as soon as we see our mistrust and unbelief as sin, we can confess it, receive forgiveness, choose to trust God, and let go of our offense toward His leadership.
Trusting God where we are afraid is the key to moving forward out of our stuck places. We won’t feel a need to trust in areas where our pride has blinded us so don’t even try to tackle that side. We have to be honest about what we’re afraid of and trust Him in that place and take risks to become open, honest, and vulnerable about our fears. The fruit of facing our fears with greater trust and vulnerability will address our pride and lift the blinders.
Another part of our self-pity problem is that we give too much emotional responsibility to others to care for us that God has not first given them to give to us. Reliance on human love above God’s love is idolatry and will always leave us feeling short-changed and disappointed. Can we stop turning to people or things as our answer?
Human love was separated from God in the Garden. Broken by sin and self-centered to the core, human love is always self-protective and self-motivated. Because of this, the fallen nature’s capacity to extend human love is restricted and should not be sought as the answer to our heart’s longings. Jesus knew this and only trusted the Father to take care of Him (John 2:23-25, 1 Peter 2:21-24).
We can only truly trust and rely on God’s perfect love to take proper care of us (1 Peter 5:7). When we don’t, we are setting ourselves up for painful disappointments. The Lord is our faithful, trustworthy, caregiving Shepherd. We lack nothing. Can we trust God to take care of us? Can we process our fiery trials in truth? Do we trust His motives when He sends us affliction and testing? If we only want His comfort and reject His correction, we will remain emotionally insecure and unstable. We will engage in relationships from a selfish victim’s perspective instead of a God-centered victor’s outlook.
While most of us don’t mean to hurt others, yet we hurt them anyway. Our soul-based attempts to “love” others is by nature, self-centered. Only God-centered love can heal a broken heart and deliver us from rejection. We need the love of God’s discipline to find peace for ourselves and to pursue peace in our human relationships.
Hebrews 12:10-14 NASB He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.
Those who pursue bridal union with Jesus Christ will intimately know the riches of God’s perfect blend of truth and mercy in the middle of their trials and tests. Christ’s love is the only trustworthy love. His love alone truly satisfies the human heart. If we have hope that God will fill the voids in our heart with His love, we will do the hard work of wholeheartedly pursuing Him and receive both the comforting and the painful methods He uses to heal and set us free.
Let’s never forget that every substitute for God’s love is idolatry and it will disappoint us. The sooner we come to the end of these substitutes and embrace this truth, the sooner we will enter into the hope that does not disappoint and humbled enough to receive the love of God poured out within our hearts.
Romans 5:3b-5 NASB we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8 NASB My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. 2 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. 5 my soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 23 NASB The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.