Emotional Fillers

This is my newspaper article published today in our local newspaper.

What is an emotional filler? It is our well-established pattern of escape from present stress or other extenuating circumstances. The filler might be a person, an activity, or a certain food like chocolate. The whole goal is to get instant relief, even if it is only a temporary fix. It is a superficial means of emotionally extracting ourselves from what is weighing us down.

In actuality, emotional fillers are heart-idols. They become our source of comfort rather than turning to the Lord. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Psalm 61:2 says “…When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” He wants to be our Sustainer.

In Ezekiel 14:4, the Lord was speaking to the house of Israel through His prophet. Here is part of the verse which says, “…Everyone…who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, …I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols.”

Heart idols are sin. They are deceptive figments of our imagination. They lead us away from the Lord. Psalm 82:11-12 says that when we don’t listen to the Lord, “…So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.” That is a scary truth.

I am speaking from experience. As a child, I had bitten satan’s bait and was hooked on self-deception. I pretended that everything was alright, but my life was marinating in pain. My heart had a huge vacuum in it from broken expectations. I unconsciously turned to my myriad emotional fillers anytime I felt overwhelmed.

I had accepted Jesus as my Savior in 1958, but I did not know anything about intimate communion with Him until many years later. The crux of my emptiness was because my relationship with the Lord was superficial.

Emotional fillers are a hidden trap. When we turn to food, entertainment, or substances as an escape route we are deceived. Until our eyes are opened, we cannot see the dynamic magnetic force behind our choices. We find ourselves being pulled into the same old patterns of defeat. We try to do better but cannot get free.

My freedom came unexpectedly. A friend gave me a book by A. W. Tozer called The Pursuit of God. The prayers at the end of chapter one drew me with magnetic force. I dared to use them as my own. I haltingly spoke words like, ‘I desire to desire You’, ‘I long to long for You’, ‘I want to want You.’ My wounded heart began to open up like a flower bud does in the sun.

I didn’t realize the futile cycle was my default until the truth I was reading about exposed the lies. Like a yawning pit I fell into it time and time again. My heart idols spoke convincing lies that controlled my thoughts and actions. Once I confessed them as sin against God, my relationship with Him was restored.

I started to renew my mind by hiding specific verses in my heart. As I memorized them and put them into practice, my thought patterns changed. I quoted them in my mind, and I clung to them when I was overwhelmed. Ephesians 4:23 Amplified says, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude).”

Slowly my heart-idols were dismantled and replaced. Standing in truth reinforced my new pathway. I also began to understand how much the Lord delighted in me. As I spent some time communing in my heart with His Heart, I learned how to delight in Him delighting in me. That new awareness began my journey of intimate communion with the Lord that radically changed my life. 

The trials the Lord has allowed have been His tools to conform me to His image. He has used them to develop my trust to cling to Him alone. I am now aware of emotional fillers and seek to turn to Him first so that they fall as defeated temptations. 

What about you? Do you have a sustaining personal relationship with Jesus? If you don’t, you can. He died on the cross, bearing your sins. He took your place. Romans 10:13 says, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

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