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A dam is a barrier used to retain, collect, or store water, which can then be evenly distributed between locations. Dams don’t stop rain from falling. They minimize destruction by providing flood control. They also provide hydroelectric power, waste management, river navigation, and wildlife habitat (FEMA.gov).
The more I think about a dam and all the ways it benefits the economy, the environment, and society, the more I wish these traits could be applied to the emotional torrents that flood our lives.
It seems that many of us fall into one of two extremes when it comes to our emotions: we suppress them or we spill them. Both of these approaches are problematic. If you suppress, eventually you will explode. If you spill, everyone within earshot will get an ear full or a tear full, which is not always invited or proper.
What is the happy medium?
Dam it. That is, build a barrier—a strategy through which we retain, collect, or store our emotions, for the purpose of processing then responding to them appropriately. The bible calls this prayer. Prayer will not stop the rain from falling. Prayer provides a proper perspective. It is from this vantage point that we are able to more consistently achieve healthy outcomes even in the midst of trying times.
The Bible says that “by prayer . . . the peace of God . . . will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds . . .”1 While the physical dams designed by the hands of man offer economic, environmental, and social advantages, prayer, designed by the mind of God, offers spiritual, emotional, and mental advantages. When we pray, we gain control2 when we have none, power3 when we are weak, waste management when life gets messy4, navigation5 when our emotions have us lost, and a habitat or refuge for us no matter how wild our life gets!1
It is possible to be directed by our prayers more and dominated by our emotions less. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
The next time an emotional storm of any magnitude comes your way, don’t suppress it.
Don’t spill it.
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