In the image of God He made them, male and female. Genesis 1:27
I often have to help my children work through their emotions.
When someone says something unkind, it is very natural to want to give an unkind response – because in that moment, your emotion is one of hurt, injustice, and the need to right a wrong.
When that cute boy at school tells you he likes you and that you’re pretty – and then he asks another girl to the dance – it is natural to feel slighted, like maybe you weren’t quite good enough, and not very pretty.
When your mom or dad has a bad day and barks at you for seemingly no reason, it is natural to feel as if he or she doesn’t like you or care about you, or that there is something wrong with you.
When something isn’t right – and you know deep down that it isn’t – it is easy to feel scared and alone, abandoned, and helpless to do anything about it.
I have learned that, in those moments, it is useless to tell my kids their emotions are wrong. They aren’t wrong. Very often, you can’t help how you feel about something.
Instead, I try to help them to temper their emotions with truth – because bottom line is, there are some things we can’t change, that we can’t do anything about. And although how we feel about it may not change, our perspective on it can.
Emotions can be scary – one moment, they can have us up on top of a mountain, feeling as if all is well with the world. And then the next moment, they can throw us into a black hole.
And so often we try to cover them up, explain them away, convince ourselves of why we shouldn’t feel the way we feel.
Or we act on them, move quickly, make a decision in the heat of the moment because it is what feels right.
Neither of these are healthy.
So here is what I would say:
Don’t be afraid of your emotions.
God made us emotional creatures.
And remember: we were made in His image.
Deep love is from Him. He loves deeply.
The desire to have a soul connection with another human being is from Him – it is a mirror of His relationship with us.
Anger at injustice, negligence, and mistreatment is from Him – these things anger and sadden His heart.
The drive to protect and care for someone we love is from Him – He protects and cares for us through one another.
And if we will pay attention, and keep our emotions in perspective, they can clue us in to what is going on in our hearts and our souls. They are a sign that we are effected by what is going on around us and inside of us, and we need to listen. Even more than those things, they connect us with God’s heart for us and for others. They may be a really good indicator that something isn’t right, and a change is needed.
Emotions, as scary as they are, can be healthy – and they need to be balanced with truth.
We can admit how we feel and still make a solid choice based on what is best.
When all within you aches for something different, or a change of some kind, don’t let those deep places determine your next step.
Don’t let the pain cause you to lash out.
Don’t let unmet needs drive your decisions.
Over and over in today’s culture, we hear the mantra, “Follow your heart.”
It’s everywhere – t-shirts, coffee mugs, wall art;
But remember the words of Jeremiah the prophet,
“The heart is deceitful above all things.” (17:9)
It will lead you to places that your spirit did not mean to go.
It will cause you to make choices you wish you had never made.
And very often, the damage it does cannot be undone.
It can be redeemed – He is, after all, the redeemer. It is what He does. He specializes in taking broken things – broken people – and making them beautiful. Countless times I have seen Him do this.
But I believe some of the greatest blessings in our lives come when we acknowledge how we feel, choose to believe what He says, and step into His truth rather than what makes us feel better momentarily.
And believe me – as I walk this out – that is way easier said than done. It cannot be done in your own strength. You cannot muster up the courage to “just do the right thing,” when your heart is screaming the exact opposite.
It is only through the work and help of the Holy Spirit – His Spirit alive in us – that we can say yes to whatever He says, regardless of how we feel.
Oftentimes, our emotions are so strong they will push us to do something. And sometimes, that’s ok. Not every emotional decision is a wrong one. But we should always try to remember to temper our emotions with self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit, and with the truth of God’s Word.
The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. ~Romans 8:6
Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. ~Psalm 37:4