In the last month we experienced two uninvited events within a two-week period of time: My husband had the “widow-maker” heart attack and two weeks later, his company did a massive layoff which included my husband’s job.
When those unexpected pop-ups smack you upside the head it’s easy to get knocked out of your game. I am reminded of a time when I was at the Colorado State Championship tournament for World Tae Kwon Do and I was knocked out by an illegal hook kick to my head. I had practiced 6 days a week 4 hours a day and within 2 minutes I found myself knocked to the mat. I remember as the ref counted down from 10, coming to my senses at about 4. My first thought was, “There is no way I’m going out like this, not after all of the time, focus and energy I put into practicing techniques outside the ring.” Adrenaline shot me to my feet, I couldn’t see out of my right eye, yet my body didn’t care. At this point I was completely hijacked by strong negative emotions which propelled me into an animal planet type spider monkey attack on my opponent. I ended up winning the silver medal.
After receiving the silver medal, my EGO escorted me off the podium. My 8th degree, very wise, humble, Christian master trainer, whispered in my ear, “You lost Lauren, you let your negative emotions override your best techniques.”
How many times do we let our negative emotions fuel stress and anxiety in our lives to the point that we lose the LIGHTS ON version of ourselves (when our identity is grounded in Jesus) in dark corners of anger, resentment, retaliation and non-forgiveness? When my husband was released from his job two weeks after his heart attack, we both felt knocked to the mat. As we fought through the negative emotions fueling stress in our minds and bodies, we realized a simple truth: to stress or not to stress – that is the question and our choice of response to situations in our lives makes ALL the difference in the outcomes we experience, the biggest one being our emotional and physical wellbeing. Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:15-16, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly.”
Our first response was emotional: “They can’t do this, it must be illegal, we have to fight back.” As we prayed about it, we both felt moved to follow Jesus’ lead in situations like this from Matthew 5:43-45: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” It wasn’t easy at all.
Our first prayers sounded something like this: “Even though we do not feel like praying for these people because we feel hurt and rejected, BECAUSE YOU SAY SO, we pray for ______________________, and trust that You have our back in all of this, grant us Your peace and strength.” The most amazing peace started to shift our strong negative emotions into feelings of calm and trust. So, we kept on praying for them. Within five days my husband had 5 open doors of possible job offers.
As we realize we have the ability to make the shift, or as in Emotional Intelligence in Christ, we refer to it as the course correction with the help of the Holy Spirit, peace and confidence return. Your attitude towards life events is your closest friend or worst enemy and you get to choose it. When you are hurt in undesirable situations, it is a job for Jesus no doubt. Our attitude should be the same as Jesus (Philippians 2:5): humbled and surrendered to the Will of God.
Ask for divine assistance to make a mental shift from negative thoughts which fuel negative feelings leading to negative behavior TO positive thoughts which lead to positive emotions and ignite positive behavior…the result is emotional and physical wellbeing. As we have learned about heart health, stress is more of a contributing factor to heart disease and cancer than cigarette smoking and high cholesterol foods (20 Year Landmark Study, University of London).
Make the shift into the same attitude as Jesus this week. Lead with humility and the surrendered life to God’s will and purposes. To do this invite the Holy Spirit to give you the grace to LET the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and LET the word of God (the message of Christ) dwell in you richly. Bookend your days meditating on the word of God in prayer. You can’t give out to the world around you what you have not allowed to enter within you. Lead Like Jesus.
Leading like Jesus starts with the heart. Our Heart of a Great Leader 4-week Study Guide is a great resource.