The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses (Psalm 25:17)
Unlike our day-to-day emotions, which are the product of our day-to-day thought life, emotional baggage from the past is always there. Years of exposure and experience in life have etched grooves in our memory banks that are triggered by current events.
For example, if your kind, loving grandfather was named Bill, you probably have a favourable emotional reaction to other people named Bill. But if the school bully was named Bill, your initial reaction to the Bills in your life is probably negative. If your spouse suggests, "Let's name our first child Bill," you might even react, "Over my dead body!"
I call these long-term emotions that lurk beneath the surface primary emotions. The intensity of your primary emotions is determined by your previous life history. The more traumatic your experience, the more intense will be your primary emotion. Many of these primary emotions will lie dormant and have very little effect on your life until something comes along to trigger them. Have you ever brought up a topic of conversation that upset someone and sent him storming out of the room? "What set him off?" you wondered. He was 'set off' because a bad experience in his past was triggered by your topic. The trigger is any present event that he associates with the past conflict.
Most people try to control their primary emotions by avoiding the people or events that trigger them. But you can't isolate yourself completely from everything that may set off a response. You are bound to see something on TV or hear something in a conversation that will bring to mind your unpleasant experience. You must learn how to resolve previous conflicts or the emotional baggage will accumulate and the past will control your life.
During the next few days, we will consider ways to resolve our emotional baggage from the past.
Lord, I don't want to be controlled by past events. Show me how I can resolve these issues so I can walk in freedom today.