If you stop for a moment to consider the role that your feelings are currently playing in your life, are your emotions helping or hindering you from doing God’s will? Take your time as you process this question as we are pursuing emotional health together. I believe that God has blessed each one of us with so many emotions, and He wants to use each one of them to communicate with and through us.
Feelings are a gift from God. Each one of them needs to breathe and find meaningful expressions. Some of our emotions are intense and compel us to take action. Some of our emotions are right on the surface, and they easily flow through our expressions and conversations. Other feelings get buried deep below the surface, and they’re connected with our family and relational history.
Love can compel us to do whatever is necessary, fight off all the enemies, and commit to risking everything because of our passion for someone or something. Our love may vocationally drive us to invest enormous amounts of time and energy. Our love for family can lead us to make incredible sacrifices to provide and protect and pray and invest in developing and caring for our loved ones of all ages. Our love for God and His people may compel us to do what makes absolutely no sense to anyone else, but we do it anyway because we are called by God. But aren’t there times that we love something or someone so much that it controls our lives, and we aren’t willing to give it up? We let our love control us instead of letting God’s will and love control us.
Anxiety or fear can keep us away from doing something irrational or stupid. It can keep us away from danger. Anxiety can keep us clinging to God for our dear lives with a sense that the only thing that matters now is that God is with us. Anxiety and fear and worry can also keep us from resting, having peace, or sleeping at night. It can cause us to shrink back from outwardly expressing our love to God or people. It can trigger freeze or fight or flight responses. It can restrict our growth and our freedom. It can become a prison, leaving us in bondage. It can compel us to care beyond reason when we sense someone is in desperate need of help. It can send us to our knees when we sense someone needs our prayers. Is your anxiety helping or hindering you?
Anger and frustration are powerful emotions. They’re oftentimes responses to our expectations not being met. Anger can also get triggered when we know something is wrong, and we’re going to fight for what’s right no matter what. Anger can give us surges of energy to complete a task, to compete in sports, or to overcome obstacles. Anger can compel us to drop everything or risk anything to help someone who is in trouble or in desperate need. Anger can also wreck relationships, steal our joy, or contribute to health problems. Anger can compel us to break out of chronic cycles and make needed changes. Anger at God, self, or others for the bad things that have happened in our lives can also arrest our growth and development and cause connection problems. Is your anger helping or hindering you?
What about sadness and loneliness? Does our sadness and loneliness compel us to reach out to God and people for comfort, love, and support? Does our loss or grief make us bitter or better? Are we allowing our sadness to take us to very dark places where we give up on ourselves, love, and relationships? Are we isolating ourselves and growing mistrust? Does our sadness and loneliness cause us to be more aware of all of the others around us who are struggling? Are we reaching out to connect with them? What is Jesus doing in and through our emotional struggles?
The more we turn to God with the vast array of emotions that we daily encounter, the more deeply we can feel and experience His loving presence. When we stop and ask what Jesus wants us to do with our feelings, we might be surprised by how compassionate and understanding He is. We may be directed to do the opposite of what we feel like doing. We may feel compelled to take action to help alleviate someone else’s pain or loneliness instead of getting stuck in our own despair. But if we never stop and reflect and deal with our own emotions, can we possibly feel deeply connected to God, to ourselves, and to people around us?
God cares about each of our emotions and what we do with them.