By Chris Surber, Senior Minister
I love the children’s movie, “Inside Out.” The main characters are Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. They live inside the mind of a preteen girl named Riley. The film is hilarious as you get to see the personified basic emotions of a person that interact, fight, and work together to solve problems and direct Riley.
For me, this movie begs the question of whether our emotions run us or we run them. Who is in charge inside of me anyway! There are no shortages of theories as to how our emotions are instilled and shaped in us. Is it nature or nurture? What is the nature and the extent of family and a community’s social training on who we become? What about genetic predisposition when it comes to our personality and emotions? Those are difficult questions to answer, but the Bible does have important insight.
It occurs to me that a common sentiment among the “nature crowd” finds it easier to blame genetics and family history for the challenges they have in managing their emotions and thought-life well. Be careful. That way of thinking often leads to a blame game. I heard a fellow preacher once say, “Every blame game is a lame game. It’ll make you a lame duck, unable to reach your goals.” While it can be helpful to look at our family history and the other influences that shaped us, if we want to be in charge of our emotions and develop our thought- life in positive ways, we have to take authority over them by taking responsibility for them.
In II Corinthians 10:5, the Apostle Paul wrote, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” (New Living Translation) Successful people are not mastered by their past or the thought residue left behind by the influence of others. In I Peter 2:21, the Apostle Peter echoes a similar sentiment. “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.” (NLT)
You don’t have to be mastered by the past or by present pain or trials. What we went through does not define us. At the end of the day, we may have been born with a certain temperament, and surely we were influenced by those who loved us and those who hurt us. However, right now, at this moment, we get to choose who we will become. We have the power to break patterns of the past and define our destiny. God’s love and power is available for any person who desires it. There is a lot of wisdom in the world. There is profound life-guiding hope-filled power-packed God-given light for living in the Bible.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again; I will obey Your righteous regulations. I have suffered much, O LORD, restore my life again as You promised.” – Psalms 119:105-107 (NLT)
Wherever you are on the journey of faith, wherever you are on your journey through this life, the outside world doesn’t have to turn you inside out, and our inside worlds don’t have to stay the way they are. God has given us insight and power to determine our destiny! Choose today who you will be. With God’s help, become the best version of you. That is who God made you to be. I’m praying for you to take control of the helm of your emotions and thought-life. I know you can do it!
Dr. Chris Surber is Senior Minister at Mt Hope Congregational Church in Livonia, MI. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Supply and Multiply in Montrouis, Haiti. Visit him online at www.chrissurber.com