We all go through situations that make us feel like reacting emotionally. If we don’t handle ourselves properly during those times, we can do major damage to ourselves and to others. Emotional control is a life-skill that you will never regret developing. Recently, my friend Busola Dakolo (wife of internationally acclaimed singer /songwriter Timi Dakolo) posed a question on social media to her followers. It got me thinking very seriously.  As I was thinking, I realized that my answers to her question would be helpful to others, not just her alone and it inspired this post. Over the last 4+ decades of my life, I have come up with some time-tested ways that I personally use to maintain my emotional well-being. I’m not a professional in this field, but it works for me and I am confident that it will work for you too. If you have additional things that you do, please share them with me in the comment section.

1. Cast my cares onto the Lord (refuse to worry): 1 Peter 5:7 reminds me to cast my cares on my Father because He cares for me. That verse is the perfect encouragement for me whenever I am confronted with a situation that threatens to weigh me down. God’s love for us as His children is so all-encompassing that He does not want us to worry about anything. He has given us His nature and has made it possible for us to go through a day without being affected by the things that threaten our peace. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit – whose fruit is Peace- so we have His arms of love so tightly wrapped around us and ready to lift every burden off our shoulders the moment we turn to Him for help. Whenever I am faced with a challenge or the voice of worry, I remember 1 Peter 5:7 and I turn my worry over to God. I like to imagine myself shaping my worry into a ball form and throwing it so far that I can’t see it any more. It totally works and gives me a big sigh of relief that God has it under His control. The true freedom from reacting to the situations that disturb our peace is by the sacrifice of Jesus and His precious blood. II Cor. 5:14. My Dad, Dr. Gary Whetstone has an awesome revelation that will give you deeper insight on his website. You need to get this into your spirit. (www.jesusexperience.com )

2. Forgive quickly and reject all forms of bitterness:  In Matthew 18: 21-22, Peter presents Jesus with a situation which every one of us will face; the need to forgive offenses.   In answering Peter’s question, Jesus told him to forgive the offense a total of 70 times multiplied by 7. That amounts to 490 offenses forgiven each time. You realize that it is a bit absurd to keep a written tally of offenses if you want to truly forgive someone. The Lord’s Prayer says “…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”  God’s forgiveness is perfect; He does not keep a record of our misdeeds. What Jesus was saying in essence is, forgive those who offend you the same way God forgives you and holds no grudge or bitterness towards you. If you practice the God-kind-of-forgiveness you will find yourself lighter and happier. If you’re wondering how to forgive so that the offense doesn’t come back to haunt you, take a look at II Cor. 2:10. This Scripture talks about forgiving the person in the Name and person of Jesus. You don’t forgive from your human ability you forgive fully when you acknowledge that you have been crucified with Christ and it is His nature alive in you that empowers you to forgive and remit sins (Gal. 2:20).  In addition to this, forgiveness is found in John 20:23. When you remit the person’s sin, it releases you and them as well. Remember, once you receive Jesus, God has made you a king and a priest (Rev. 1:6). Forgiveness is easy when you act as a Child of God who has His Nature.  Recognizing that their sins are forgiven puts you in agreement with God’s perspective of the person who offended you.

 3. Avoid gossip: Now this is a tough one. Every culture has a story about a person who likes to gossip about other people and this tale usually ends with the gossiper falling into trouble. These days, social media seems to thrive on gossip. Opinions, rumours and speculations about people and incidents make the rounds faster than the truth does. We live in the midst of a culture that often does not bother to check the facts before declaring rumours as truth. Unfortunately with the prevalence of this behaviour, people end up hurt. Human beings will always have opinions about everything and everyone under the sun, so if you want to live a life full of peace and emotional wholeness,  guard your ears from gossip.  My personal rule is that I never accept third party information as being valid and I try to avoid filling my ears with it.  Pastor Poju Oyemade recently had this to say about gossip on his Instagram post; “Never take a position on a matter without hearing the other side. Whoever initiates a thing must also be a living witness of the account. Once a story is coming from a third party, it has been coloured. Things are always deeper than they sound.” “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29.

4. Meditate and pray at intervals throughout the day: It is always important to step back from a situation or a very busy day and spend time quieting the noise of our everyday life. Spending time in prayer helps you refocus on God and connect to His plan for your day and indeed your life. The Bible tells us that Jesus regularly took time away from the demands of life to spend time in prayer; and if you read carefully, you'll see He always walked in the supernatural afterwards (Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:23-25).  You don’t need to attend a prayer service before you get deep into the place of prayer. Sometimes if I feel overwhelmed during my day, I simply shut my door and close my eyes. I start to take deep healing breaths and I speak to my Heavenly Father. Sometimes I pray using scriptures, sometimes I simply talk to Him as a friend and unburden my soul, sometimes I’m at a loss for words and I pray in the Holy Spirit. However I pray, I have found that prayer and meditation have been a stabilizing factor in my life. I even wrote a book recently containing some of my prayers called “Laurie Prays.” You can get a copy of it on my website, laurieprays.com

5. Focus on what matters: Focusing on the important things cannot be overemphasized. The almost daily advancements in science and technology place distractions at our very fingertips. It is almost impossible to go an entire hour without some technological distraction coming your way either in form of instant messages or the shiny attraction of social media. Technology aside, the very reason why we live is captured succinctly in these words spoken by Jesus: “For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but to do the will of Him that sent me” (John 6:38). For everyone who is born again, the direction of your life is to fulfill God’s will for your life. If you live this way, you will find that nothing bothers you, you will find so much joy in life and all the distractions will fade away. At the time my husband and I were going through one of the most challenging experiences of our marriage, we made a pact to avoid distractions. We decided to turn off the television and focus on God’s plan for our lives and, trust me, the results of this time of fellowship are innumerable. Everything we do is about God. It’s not about people, so we don’t let “people stuff” get to us (Col.3:23,24).

6. Make time to play and laugh inside each day: There are 24 hours in one day and we are told to sleep for a minimum of six hours daily. So we spend the rest of the time working to ensure we have a comfortable life and fulfill God’s purpose for us. Ask yourself, when was the last time you intentionally sought to relax and have actual fun each day of your week?  We are so focused on the demands of living in the 21st century that we forget how to have fun. For me, fun is spending time with my family; my husband and my children have a way of putting a smile on my face no matter what the day was like. Medical research has found that there are a lot of benefits in being cheerful including, reducing stress hormones, boosting the immune system, increasing blood flow and oxygenation, as well as enhancing your memory and creativity.  Proverbs 15:13 “A joyful heart  makes a cheerful countenance but sorrow of the heart crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 17:22 reminds us to laugh every day.

7. Prioritize my daily To-Do-list, keeping family time at the top: Habakkuk. 2:2 tells us to write out our vision clearly so that everybody can understand where we are going and what we are doing. Without a clear plan for your day, you can end up accomplishing nothing. There is a keen sense of accomplishment when you plan to do something and at the end of the day you are able to check off your list.  Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” Planning your day must include making time for what matters the most. Plan time for God into your schedule. Everyone who knows me can testify that my family is an absolute priority.  I cannot readily think of anything that compares to the joy of hugging my children and talking to my husband about my day. As a family, our activities revolve around each other, from the movies we watch, to the music we listen to, and the holidays we take. In every day, no matter how filled with activities it is, there is always an activity we partake in as a family.  How you enjoy your family life does not need to be a replica of how your parents raised you and enjoyed their marriage. You can pattern your home life after God’s Word and find more deep joy and fulfillment with the people who share your last name than with friends who come and go. 

8. Live with an attitude of gratitude: Colossians 3:17 (BSB) says, And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Gratitude keeps you from living an entitled and selfish life which is harmful to your emotional well-being.  When we are grateful, we are happy, more peaceful and are a nicer person to be around. There is a special, beautiful fragrance that flows from a person with a grateful heart. Grateful people smile more and are less inclined to complaining. Some people have found that keeping a gratitude journal is a big help in keeping them in remembrance of the blessings of God. When you are a grateful person, you see and acknowledge that things are working for you, not against you. II Cor. 4:15-17 reminds us that all things are working for us and that our problems are temporary. Romans 5:3-5 and James chapter 1 deal with the same theme and helps you keep it all in perspective. So the next time you face a conflict, speak to it and say, "You are working for me and not against me." This disposition and confession will make you grateful for challenges and can make you smile, even through the pain.

 9. Talk about problems instead of bottling them up: My Dad, Dr. Gary Whetstone often says, “Where there’s no root there’s no fruit.” If you don’t want a root of bitterness as mentioned in Hebrews 12:14 15, then you need to deal with the issues when they first come up, not allowing them to fester and trouble you. Aim to live at peace with all men. This means that you need to grow in your ability to communicate and sometimes die to your right to be right. Don’t allow stuff stay in your heart, keep your heart pure and clean before God and man.

10. Do things for others, there is nothing that makes you feel better: My personal motto is; “a heart beats happiest when it beats for others.” John 15:13 tells us that Jesus’ sacrifice for us is incomparable to anything else. In giving His life for us, He fulfilled a purpose that is beyond any human being and did something for us that we could never have done for ourselves. Doing things for others without expecting a repayment can be the most rewarding experience of your life. I urge you to look for ways to serve other people without expecting a reward from them. Matthew 25:40 reminds us that when we help even the smallest of people it is the same as helping Jesus Himself.  If you have ever gone soul winning, been on an outreach, a missions trip or just simply helped your neighbor with something, you can testify that there is an indescribable joy that comes from serving others selflessly. This joy floods your soul and stabilizes you emotionally.

Thank you for taking the time to read through these time-tested principles which have kept me smiling from the inside out for over four decades. I pray that you will be able to heal from your hurts. I pray that you will put your life in perspective and discover the joys of living purposefully and with gratitude. May you have Jesus revealed in you and discover that He is our strength and that when we live with His nature controlling our lives, we live free from the tangled web of sin and people’s opinions. May this next season of your life be full of joy and real peace, in Jesus' Name, Amen.