We do not possess a soul. Instead, our soul is our essential personhood comprised of our body, mind, and emotions. If, for example, we have the flu, not only is our body sick, but our mind and emotions are also affected. Our thinking isn’t clear, and emotionally, we are grouchy and crabby.
Likewise, our emotions affect our essential personhood. When we are depressed, we don’t feel like taking a walk or cycling. We don’t feel like reading a book, writing an essay, or preparing a meal. Anything we do in a depressed state has to be forced against our will. It’s hard to function when in a melancholy place.
And consider the anger and resentment that follows some injustice done to us. Anger takes over our emotions, clouds our thinking, and makes us want to fight or flee. If it’s not controlled, our body is affected, and we want act out by hitting someone or throwing something.
That which comprises our personhood are essentially connected as one.
That’s why it is paramount to learn how to have emotional health. Out of control emotions can over rule our mind. They can affect our physical health and even lead to a heart attack and digestive problems like diarrhea. The body can shut down.
Money problems, conflict in relationships like marriage, the death of a loved one, and other stressful, unpleasant situations can send our emotions into a tailspin until we crash and burn.
As a result, we try and kill the pain. But, the pain killer becomes the pain producer leading to unhealthy addictions such as alcoholism, drug addictions, issues with food like eating for comfort, binging, or not eating much of anything, sexual addiction, workaholism, and many others. All of these addictions never address the root of emotional pain. They all are temporary fixes and create the need for another fix creating more pain in an endless cycle.
Addictions wear on the mind and exhaust the body. Instead of calming our nerves, they frazzle them. In short, they can literally wear us out.
So, how can we have a healthy, prosperous soul? After all, there is a scriptural prayer for our souls to prosper. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2, New King James Version).
I wish it was as simple and easy as taking an aspirin to reduce a fever. But for me, it wasn’t.
I had fallen to the bottom. My stress and anxiety reached the point that I was advised to quit my teaching job in an inner city high school. Fortunately, I had enough years to retire. I felt like a failure. No matter my resolve, I couldn’t go another day. When I reached that point, I sought out a pastor-counselor friend of mine and started attending his weekly group sessions. I read everything he recommended to me. The healing began, and today, I can honestly say that my emotions are healthy and whole. Where there was bondage and confusion, today there is freedom. I understand now what Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 New International Version).
Self-understanding and self-awareness also was a factor in knowing the ‘truth.’ For example, I came to understand why my anger sometimes degenerated into rage. I came to discover that it wasn’t someone else’s fault for ‘making’ me angry. Instead, I allowed others to make me angry. When I became aware of that, I stopped allowing others to negatively affect my emotions. It was a key revelation. I read Jesus’ encounters with those who ‘baited’ Him and tempted Him to lose his temper in order to discredit His ministry and personhood. I found that he responded instead of reacting. And, He responded in patient love realizing it was their problem and not His problem. Wow!
I am well and whole emotionally. Yet, that is not an emphatic statement because I also realize as did the Apostle Paul, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 4:12).
But, I can say emphatically that I have no more issues with dyarhrra. My chest doesn’t constrict because of stress. My shoulder muscle doesn’t tighten which had me in so much pain that I took muscle relaxers. I became so apathetic about my body that I over ate becoming obese. Emotions were tearing my body apart. But, not any more.
Also, I could become spiteful and revengeful towards those who wronged me or who I thought wronged me. I well knew Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. But, I had not internalized that verse and therefore didn’t have the ability to practice it. Emotions ruled over my mind. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I came to the point realizing my powerlessness and submitted to the control of Christ over my mind. “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6 New International Version). Knowing scripture and internalizing the Word of God are as different as night and day.
One gift of the Spirit is the gift of self-control. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control …” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Only by the Spirit of Christ controlling our emotions can our emotions be tamed and our soul, our essential personhood of mind, body, and emotions can prosper and healthily grow in a love relationship with the Lord.