How to manage emotions

There are many different emotions.

Robert Plutchik’s wheel of emotions includes eight basic and eight advanced emotions. Others list 50 or more emotions ranging from affection to worry. We all have emotions, however, the manner in which we display or conceal them range from unhealthy suppression to uncontrolled outbursts. And our ability to correctly identify and interpret emotions (our own and those of others) can be difficult, as the following true account humorously reveals.

At a stock show, a grand-champion lamb owned by a little girl was being auctioned. As the bids reached five dollars a pound, the girl, standing in the ring beside her lamb, began to cry. At ten dollars per pound, the tears were streaming liberally and she threw her arms tightly around the lamb’s neck. The higher the bids, the more she cried until a local businessman bought the lamb for more than $1000 and immediately returned it to the girl. The crowd applauded enthusiastically.

Sometime later, a man who’d witnessed the touching scene was judging some essays. He read one from a girl who told of the auctioning of her lamb. “The prices began to get so high,” she wrote, “that I started to cry from happiness. A man bought my lamb for much more than I ever dreamed I’d get and then returned the lamb to me. When I got home, Daddy barbecued the lamb and it was really delicious!”

Misinterpreted or not, emotions have their place. Jesus Himself was visibly and intensely emotional on several occasions. In John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” In Mark 6:34 He was moved to deep compassion as He observed people and they appeared to Him to be, “as sheep not having a shepherd.” All four gospels record Jesus exhibiting righteous anger as He evicted religious extortionists from the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Garden of Gethsemane He experienced such emotional agony that drops of blood appeared on His brow. Jesus possessed and experienced a full range of emotions without ever being emotionally out of control.

As humans, we can manipulate through emotions, misunderstand emotions, even become physically ill or mentally disturbed though emotional disorders. We are extremely vulnerable because of our emotions, but totally dysfunctional without them.

Bottom line? As one who finds that I become more emotional as I grow older, I find stability in recognizing that emotions make great servants, but poor masters.

But being a Christian after all is a package deal – and I as I yield my life to Jesus, the real Master, my emotions are wrapped up in the package.