Once a month I get a strong craving for chocolate (as opposed to a semi-strong craving all the other days). That same day I coincidentally get irritated, impatient, and cry easily. Despite its inevitable occurrence each month, I’m still oblivious to what’s causing my emotional meltdown until it subsides. When I finish a container of dark chocolate peanut butter cups and realize the source of it all, I can calmly process my emotions and ask God, “why on earth did You create hormones?!”
This is more than a rant about fluctuating estrogen levels, by the way. I want to talk about handling our emotions in light of the Truth. Acknowledging our emotions is important. They are not meant to be ignored, but they’re also not meant to be the driving force of our decisions. We’ve all blown situations out of proportion simply because our emotions got too big. It happens in relationships. When 2 different people with 2 different perspectives come together to figure out how to do this thing called life, conflict and disagreements arise. Thankfully God gave us His Truth to lean on when navigating our feelings. We also have examples in the Bible of what not to do. I’m looking at you, Eve.
When the devil tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit, his tactic was to get her to mistrust the Word of God, the Truth. Eve didn’t have a reason to believe God wasn’t trustworthy. She would have known Him as Elohim (Creator). This is a name of God in Hebrew mentioned all throughout Genesis 1. Everything was made for mankind and they were given dominion over the living creatures. In Genesis 2, we are introduced to the name,"Lord God,"which carries the meaning of Master. As Lord, He had a personal relationship with Adam and Eve and guided them in their work. As Creator, He provided them with nourishment, shelter, and enjoyment.
They had true freedom in the world God had created for them. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a means for Adam and Eve to exercise that freedom by having the choice to obey or disobey God's words.
The master of bondage knows that Truth produces freedom (John 8:32 NIV). Not the kind of outcome he’s looking for. So he presented God’s words in the form of a question, as a way to trick Eve into thinking her freedom was being restricted by God. *Cue facial flushing, heavy breathing, and steam spewing out of the ears.* I could just imagine Eve wrestling with feelings of rage and vexation in that moment, thinking God was holding out on her.
Here’s where we take a deep breath and acknowledge those big emotions. If God in fact lied to Eve, then her righteous anger is merited. A holy god should be dependable, honest, righteous, and unchanging. But she was tricked into believing that she was lied to, “you will not certainly die” (Genesis 3:4 NIV). Here’s where we shift to reminding ourselves of the Truth. “God is not a man that he should lie” (Numbers 23:19 NKJV). “The heavens proclaim his righteousness” (Psalm 97:6 NIV). “He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17 NLT).
What I suspect happened next was a malfunction of Eve’s neurotransmitters. The message about God’s righteousness got stuck on its way from her head to her heart. She responded to the serpent by misquoting God (apparently someone hadn’t been practicing her memory verses that day). She stated she was not allowed to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but God didn't forbid that in the previous verses, only consumption of its fruit. Is it possible that her emotions altered her memory of what God actually said?
The fruit of disobedience is spiritual death, separation between us and God.
This is what God was protecting Adam and Eve from in His instructions to them. The Truth was meant to be Eve’s safety vest, but what protection does it provide if we can’t remember it correctly or rightly apply it to our lives? Instead, she appeared to be treading water in the ocean of her feelings, even if that meant sinking. Can anyone else relate? Ultimately, this led to her decision. She valued being like God more than being with God.
I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal lately and decided to be very honest with God about how I’m feeling when I wake up in the morning. This is before a cup of coffee, so you can only imagine what my journal entries look like. Scary stuff. But the object of the journal is also to express my gratitude despite my emotions. I make sure to include Scripture that reminds me of God’s character and goodness. It has proven to be very helpful, especially when processing conflict in my own dating relationship, such as disagreements we've had about how to best communicate while long distance or how to meet each others' needs. I then feel better prepared to vocalize my thoughts about a particular issue to my partner having reflected on my emotions ahead of time and bringing to remembrance God’s faithfulness in our relationship.
I recognize that I basically roasted Eve this entire article, but I can’t blame her, I don’t know what I would’ve done if I was in her position. That’s why our head knowledge about God needs to become heart knowledge. Once God's Word has moved its way into our hearts, we obey out of love for Him (John 14:15 NIV). Really, this is the only way we can lead with knowledge of the Truth instead of our emotions.
Sometimes I wonder...if only Eve had waited to find a cacao tree, she would’ve discovered the source of chocolate. I’d like to believe that would’ve changed her mind about the whole forbidden fruit thing. Just a theory.