Emotional Autopsy

Your emotional life is a window into what is truly important to you and what you are really living for.

Paul David Tripp, Journey to the Cross Day 12

I have to confess that often I believe being ruled by one’s emotions is a sign of weakness–logic trumps emotion. But logically, emotions serve a valuable purpose. One of the most important lessons to learn in marriage is that relationships built on emotion often have a shaky foundation. While it may be the feeling of love that draws you to another person it’s the choice of commitment that sustains a relationship. At the root of both of these points is a black and white issue. Either you love someone or you don’t, either you’re ruled by emotion or logic. Tripp is calling us to see our emotions as a barometer, something that reflects changes in circumstances or opinions.

I know that I’m not the best as using my emotions to evaluate where I am and how I may need to change course, but I do really like to watch crime dramas. I’m always fascinated by the autopsies on these shows. I have not much first hand experience with autopsies. My father was not autopsied, his cause of death was obvious. My husband was not autopsied as it too was obvious that he died as a result of 40 days of infection eating away at him. Others in my family were not autopsied because they were old and their time had come. However, my friend Babette’s father had to have an autopsy because he suffered an unaccompanied death. Worst part was the autopsy showed no apparent cause of death which delayed the issuance of a death certificate which lead to a whole ‘nother set of issues and problems. (final outcome — he died!)

There are two kinds of autopsies: forensic and clinical. Forensic autopsies are the ones we are so enamored with on TV. They determine the cause and manner of death for legal reasons. In the United States, death is classified as: natural, accidental, homicide, suicide, or undetermined. A clinical autopsy is one done for research and study purposes. another friend’s father donated his body to science, it was used for these clinical purposes. He was studied for the betterment of mankind, because that’s what he wanted.

So what do autopsies have to do with our emotions? Tripp says that, “Our emotions are a window into what our hearts really love” (p 74). I need to perform emotional autopsies to keep my self on track, to use them as “helpful indicators of where you have replaced God with something else or where you have asked him to deliver you to something he’s never promised” (p 75). These autopsies will reveal where we’ve used things as God-replacements in our lives. Sometimes we can’t change what needs to be changed until we get upset about it. Sometimes I’m not going to act on something until the emotion moves it to the front of my mind. The emotion is not the compass that points me in the right direction, its the barometer that reflects where I’ve placed my trust. I don’t need to overanalyze my emotions, but I do need to use them to get to the root of my issues and to look for evidence that something is amiss, find where sin has taken root in my life, confess it and correct it. Confident that I am not ruled by emotion or logic, but living a life surrendered to the Father.

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