Primary emotions left unchecked lead to secondary emotions and actions. Our country horrifically experienced this–shaking our democratic principles to the core. Think about it…virtually all major disagreements begin as a slight irritation. Those unaddressed, cultivate deeper secondary emotions.
Think of a time you experienced a negative primary emotion like of one of the following:
- fear, sadness, shame, disappointment, helplessness, hopelessness, embarrassment, despair.
Resentment and deep-seated anger started there.
Primary emotions are the foundation of vulnerability; they are often difficult to recognize and admit. Ignoring primary emotions often fosters an unhealthy emotional cycle. It’s like eating unhealthy foods; you initially feel satisfied, but quickly find the chemicals wreaking havoc on your mind and body. You either feel poorly and do something healthy about it, or you further satiate your body’s true nutritional needs through the facade of more sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, and fat–taking you down into a deeper spiral of poor health and inferior thinking.
Emotions and actions work much the same. When your fear, disappointment, or embarrassment isn’t tackled, your mind and actions take you further down the rabbit hole. Embarrassment leads to defensiveness, which leads to gossip, which leads to betrayal.
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips. Romans 1:29
Imagine how many times we are taught about betrayal–Genesis 12:3, Jeremiah 12:6, Isaiah 53:10, Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25 to name a few. It seems to me one of the most egregious betrayals was that of Judas. Yet, it is not the betrayal about which to focus, but rather grace and forgiveness. Anyone can be angry–it takes real faith to forgive.
So what are we mere mortals to do if we upset someone else? Do three important things. 1) Admit your wrongdoing. 2) Fix it. 3) Don’t repeat it. Those three actions are powerful and move all involved toward forgiveness and peace. Admitting it means no excuses. Simply acknowledge you were wrong–unabashed. Fix it. That means asking those you offend how to fix it–not assuming you know. Share true remorse and seek forgiveness. And finally, learn from it so as to never repeat it.
When you find yourself on the offended side, be honest about naming the transgression–including your hurt feelings. Accept a sincere apology. Forgive, and move on. When you are approached by others who honestly admit the transgression, ask about how to and then attempt to make it right, paired with a promise of change, by all means offer the forgiveness Christ first showed us.
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15)
If we all show one another more grace, our lives and our country will truly heal.
This will be my last written devotion for a while, as I am exchanging my time and energies toward our immediate community needs within our area foodbanks and working with adolescent homelessness. I hope that my expressed faith, thoughts, and feelings these past few years have, in some small way, contributed to your faith journey.
For more grace and more peace, everywhere.