Friday, March 5, 2010

Emotional Energy

You know how you take on a responsibility that is not a lot of work, but just the commitment wears you down? Or you are a part of a group that is struggling through some conflict where the decisions and outcome are not really up to you, but you still constantly debate in your head how it should be resolved? Maybe two friends or family members are having difficulties, and you can do nothing for them (except pray). Nevertheless, their struggles weigh on your mind?

A wise friend once taught me that this is called investing emotional energy.

Now, it seems to me that this is mostly an investment for women and rarely for men (I figured this out based on the blank stares I get from men when trying to explain the concept!). Our emotions were created to be more sensitive to pretty much everything. We think about the given situation all day long. Every other aspect of our lives can be colored by this one portal of energy. It drains us of mental capacity and rational reactions. Our emotional investment is intangible and invisible, but it still uses up our energy, for better or for worse.

Investing emotional energy into people and groups can be a good thing. It can preserve friendships and relationships. It can help people in conflict or struggles with sound advice. We need one another and should sacrifice such energy for the sake of others, like the beautiful Marie Bellet song says:

Didn't anyone ever tell you
That we were made to need each other?
Didn't anyone ever tell you
That its no use to run for cover?
And love requires sacrifice.
And everybody pays the price.
Didn't anyone ever tell you?

But, this wise friend also taught me that when the situation takes so much emotional energy that it sucks the life out of you or keeps you from enjoying your days and keeping your priorities straight, it is time to refocus. It is time to "let go and let God" - that familiar adage that takes such effort but sounds so simple. We have to give our burden to the Lord. "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Mt. 11:30)

This letting go might mean backing out of the responsibility. (I can count on one hand the number of times I have had the courage to do this.) It might mean stepping away from people or groups for a while or forever. You may even have to become a silent observer of whatever chaos surrounds you. No matter what, it means making a decision to reduce the energy we invest.

Today, for me, it is about being prepared for any outcome and trusting God to do what is best for my sanctity and that of my family's. I have caught myself on the verge of investing too much, being concerned too much, and I will step back and seek peace instead. After all, even if we humans mess it all up, His mercy will endure!

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