I woke up this morning with my mind swirling with thoughts and emotions about an experience I had yesterday. I wasn’t sure of all that troubled me or how to react to what I was feeling. It seemed like there were many layers that needed to get sorted out.
My first response was to meet with God about the situation. And then, as I sat with Him I was reminded that sometimes I need to “unpack” all the thoughts that seem to be bouncing around in my head like ping-pong balls.
I refer to this practice as “Unpacking My Emotional Suitcase.” And the prayerful process is helpful as I find clarity, reason, and peace. Here’s how I go about this very useful exercise.
First, I quiet myself before the Lord. And I seek His wisdom and guidance about this specific matter. I work to get comfortable and as relaxed as I can get, especially if I am addressing a really troubling issue.
Second, I use a yellow pad and at the top of the paper – in the wide margin – I write the question I want to have answered. For example, “Why am I so anxious when I think about the meeting I was in yesterday?”
Third, I make a list of every thought that comes up. I don’t judge the thoughts. I just write them down. And I try to fill each of the lines on the paper. The reason I try to fill in each line (there are about 25-28 per page) is that this step takes me beyond surface thoughts. Instead I am able to dig deep and uncover what might not be so easy to pick up.
Fourth, I continue to keep an open heart to the Lord. And then I just sit with my eyes closed to see what rises to the surface. This is where I rely on the help of the Holy Spirit to show me things and help me sort out my thoughts and feelings.
Fifth, I allow the Lord to show me what I should do next regarding the matter. And that action may be to pray for someone or for something to happen. Sometimes this process shows me that the experience “pushed some buttons” in me and therefore it’s like a t0-do note to work on myself. Sometimes it’s becoming aware, which then can lead me into an appropriate response.
The exercise only takes about 10 minutes, and the payoff is so good. With God’s help I am able to figure some things out. I go from anxiety and worry to peace and stability. Plus, if I am to take any actions I know they will come from God’s wisdom imparted to me.
I’m reminded of what God’s Word teaches about this type of practice:
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 NIV
The next time you feel anxious about a situation and you seem to have all kinds of thoughts and emotions swirling around in your hear, do some unpacking. It’s a great way to move from chaos to peace and to handle matters in a wise and godly manner.