Those Feelings Though!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this statement from people during intimate coffees or one on one sessions where I’m lending an ear and letting them get something off their chest. Usually it’s followed by some statement like this..
“I know God’s word says He will work all things out for good.”
“I know God is for me.”
I’ve been there myself. I remember a time a few years back I was pouring out my heart to some one about a hurt and I said, “I know all of God’s truths. I know what the Bible says about my situation, so why do I still feel this way? It seems there is a disconnect between what’s happening in my heart and what I know to be true in my mind.”
It’s like some how as Christians we think it’s wrong to feel angry, sad, mad, or hurt — like it demonstrates a lack of faith. We forget God made us emotional creatures.
There are a number of verses in the Bible that reference how we are made emotionally. For example, Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Notice, it doesn’t say it’s wrong to get angry. It gives us wisdom on how to handle anger. And in one of the shortest verses of the Bible, John 11:35, we read that “Jesus wept.” When we back up a little from there, we read in verse 33, “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Of all people who knew the power of God to heal, restore and make things right – Jesus was at the top, and knowing that, even he felt the very real human emotions of what he was walking through. It doesn’t say he sat and pondered why he felt sad when he knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead. He just let the feelings flow. He released them.
We do ourselves a disservice when we try to deny our emotions. They are valuable for a number of reasons. For example, when it comes to assessing situations, anger can be our friend – it lets us know when a boundary has been crossed. It’s like a warning light under our hood signaling something in our life is not working correctly or someone is not treating us with the love and respect we deserve. And sadness is a natural part of grieving and letting go. Acknowledging these and all other emotions is key to our overall emotional health and well-being and doing so allows us to experience life to the fullest.
I once talked with someone who explained it this way. We have an emotional cup. It has a capacity and once that capacity is reached, we won’t be able to fully experience life and all the good emotions that are proper responses to situations until we empty out our cup of the negative ones (for more on the emotional cup theory, read here).
Having said all this, while we don’t want to deny our emotions, we also want to be wise about how we let them out and with who. Emotional integrity is not denying our emotions exist; it is being wise in the releasing of them. The best first place to go is to God. We must constantly choose to surrender every emotion to the supernatural control of God. The Holy Spirit gives wisdom, produces control, and transforms emotional pain and bondage into emotional freedom. The next best place to go is to a trusted friend. We need people we can go to for a hug, a listening ear, and comfort. Relationships are a huge part of any healing process.
If you are struggling with some very raw and real emotions today, I hope you will:
- Own it – Don’t stuff, deny or try to hide what you feel.
- Go to God in prayer. Tell him how you feel. Use feeling words – I feel angry, hurt, happy, etc and ask him how he feels in response to your situation.
- Find a trusted friend to listen and share with.
Father, thank you for giving me the gift of emotions. Help me to learn how to recognize, manage, control and release those emotions so that they are assets instead of liabilities. I thank you that your grace is sufficient to lead me through every mountain and valley moment. I choose to own my feelings, turn to you, and reach out to those trusted friends you’ve blessed me with in my world. I submit my emotions to you and ask you to use them in my life for Your glory.
In Jesus’ name,