The Walking Dead
This is a three part blog & podcast series that discusses three emotions of the heart that control your life. It’s based off the book, “Enemies of the Heart” by Andy Stanley (can be purchased here) . The blog is a condensed version of the podcast — which comes from a 318LIVE series I did in 2015. I encourage you to read each blog and listen to each podcast as both bring something fresh to the table.We all know that emotions are the most powerful motivator in the world. But what do we do when our emotions are toxic? We say things we don’t mean. We act in ways we shouldn’t. And we build walls in the relationships that matter most.
There are four toxic emotions that come from the heart — I’ll be covering three in this series. Each of the emotions stem from some sort of debt. They are as follows:
- Guilt — I owe you
- Anger — You owe me
- Greed — I owe me
- Jealousy — God owes me
In Proverbs 4:23 the Bible says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” That means that if we neglect to deal with the toxic emotions in our heart then they will lead us in a life that we don’t want to live.
Now before you start thinking you don’t have any of these emotions, hold on. Because you probably do. The first we’re going to talk about is guilt.
Whenever someone is controlled by guilt a few qualities show up:
- They struggle to trust people, usually because they’re not trust worthy.
- They build walls to prevent people from seeing who they really are.
- They overreact when they hear of other people’s failures or weaknesses.
- They carry around a secret that no one can know about.
Guilt produces two main behavior traits. One is obvious, the other not so obvious.
The first trait is separation. A guilty person will always separate themselves from people they owe or people associated with people they owe.
I’ll give you a classic example.
Say someone you know starts going to church. They begin to get passionate about Jesus and consistently involved in serving in the ministry. Then you hear that they reconnected with an old flame, one that everyone knows is bad news. All of a sudden, they stop showing up to church, they won’t answer your calls, and they try to avoid you at all costs.
Why does this happen? Guilt.
More likely then not, they’ve made a mistake. They fell short of a standard they held for themselves and now feel ashamed. And because of their immaturity in the faith, they begin avoiding Jesus and all who associate with Him. This emotion drives them further away from God and people who love them the most.
In an attempt to maintain the separation they pick up another behavioral trait, this one more subtle: manipulation. Because anyone who is guilty has to manipulate to stay hidden.
Say you run into said person at the grocery store and strike up a conversation — an awkward one no doubt. You tell them how much you’ve missed seeing them around and ask what they’ve been up to. And of course, they’ve been working a lot. Which is funny because you frequently see them on social media hanging out with a not so wholesome crowd.
Guilty people will always overemphasize one area of their life to hide another area of their life.
Now I know my story was an extreme church example but guilty behaviors transcend religion. Guilt knows no boundaries. It can show up in marriage just as easy as it can a company softball team.
So how do we deal with the toxic emotion of guilt? Conversation.
We all fall short of expectations in life. And a good conversation has power to fix so much. When we make a mistake, we need to tell someone we can trust. If we did someone wrong, we need to go to them and make it right.
Whenever we are honest about our faults and failures the disappointments that others carry seem to fall away. Having open conversations will position your relationships to grow stronger.
I want to encourage you. If there are any awkward relationships in your life because of mistakes that you have made, fix them with a good conversation. Confess your failures and ask for forgiveness. Allow your honesty to heal the wounds of the past.