Over the past seven years I have had the pleasure of teaching a lot of women to rock climb. During the belay class, I usually share about how your emotions may lie to you. Fear sets in for a new climber about 10 feet off the ground. She may become scared of how high she is, or of falling. At a certain point, she may believe she cannot go any higher. She may want to come down and try again another time.
In order be lowered, the climber must sit back and fully weight the rope. The rope is dynamic, which means there is some give and stretch when the rope is weighted. As the climber sits back and begins to put her weight on the rope, she will feel the rope stretch. When feeling this stretch the first time, it can feel like you’re going to fall. Since the climber is already scared, the stretch can really be deceiving. In those cases, we do a lot of reassuring and coaching from down below. The climber must learn to trust the rope in order to sit back and be lowered. The panic can feel so real in the moment. However, here’s the truth. The new climber’s emotions are lying.
This fear is based on emotion, not reality. The truth is top rope climbing is safe. As a climber makes her way up the rock, there is a belayer down below pulling up the slack in the rope. Any slip or fall only yields a few inches before the rope catches the climber. Aside from a possible scratch or bruise, there is very little chance of serious injury. No matter how many times I preach this to a new climber, the emotions often lie, and fear prevents her from making it to the top the first time. It is not until the facts catch up to what the brain is feeling can a climber make it to the top and fully enjoy the climbing experience.
Have your emotions ever lied to you? What I mean by that is, have you ever made a decision based on strong feelings or emotions? It wasn’t until later you realize your feelings were not an accurate measure for making decisions. It could be fear or anxiety, a relationship, a move or a job that you were convinced was right. It could have been as simple as a misunderstood text, or as complicated as a decision to marry. It isn’t until later that you realize your “strong feelings” about that experience or situation couldn’t have been more wrong. Sometimes, well most of the time, my emotions and feelings try to guide me down a path that isn’t right for me.
Our culture today emphasizes and prioritizes emotions over factual truth. We live in a world where “my truth,” is what’s most important. What does that mean? If I live my life based on how I feel, and my feelings and emotions are not always correct, what hope do I have? How can I find peace and rest in a world where truth is constantly changing?
The last decade has seen an explosion in moral relativism. Has truth that feels right brought more happiness and a feeling of wholeness to our communities? Think for a moment about how this has affected our society.
If we can’t always rely on our emotions, where can we go to find hope and truth? (Especially when the definition of truth constantly changes.) Here are 3 verses from the Bible that act as my compass when my emotions try to drive my life choices:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. – Isaiah 40:8
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
These verses tell three very important truths: I can rely on real and firm truth outlined in scripture, God’s word never changes, and that my hope rests in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
When fear and anxiety overwhelm me, I have difficult life choices to make, or I have reached a crossroads, it is the truth of God’s word and the hope found in Jesus Christ that direct my decisions. When my emotions are taking me down a path, I hold my feelings up to the word of God and I take my concerns to Jesus. As it says in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The hope found in the truth of God’s word and a relationship with Jesus Christ is available to all of us. No matter where we come from or what we have done. The gift of eternal life through Christ is free to anyone. All you need to do is ask.
I want to close today with prayer over you that Paul spoke in Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”