Christians and Westerners have long been taught to distrust our emotions, to write them off as unessential “information” when we are making decisions and setting priorities. The rule among Christians is to “smile and praise the Lord,” no matter how you feel. Perhaps this is even more prevalent in Memphis and the MidSouth, where there is a strong theological trend to “name it, claim it,” and not to “speak negative things on yourself.”
While there is a lot of truth in the philosophy of positive thinking and faith talk, there comes a point where we have gone far past the practice of optimism and are actually living a lie. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free,” and coming to terms with the truths of our emotions is crucial to making decisions that can help us live happier, healthier, more fruitful lives.
God created us to have emotions, for our good, because everything God created is good and has its place when properly recognized and managed. We feel fear so we will avoid things that are harmful. We feel sad when we lose someone or something we value. We feel stressed when we are trying to do too much or something for which we are not equipped. We feel angry when we are being abused. Healthy emotions are in place to help us set safe and sane boundaries for ourselves.
On the flip side, pleasant emotions can tell us when we have found our “sweet spot,” our “comfort zone,” our destiny, the work and relationships that can help us achieve our optimum fruitfulness without making ourselves sick with the effort of it. So, emotions are God’s gift to help us gauge whether or not we are conducting our lives in a way that is healthy for us. While it is true some people live in bondage to irrational fear, discontent or seething anger, even these emotions are symptoms of faulty thought patterns or wounds that need to be healed.
We all, whether balanced or traumatized, need to learn to get to the root of our emotions and understand why we are having the responses we have so we can address the causes behind them and progress into greater healing and joy. Understanding the importance of our emotions, we need to learn to be consciously aware of them. If we do not cultivate an awareness, we will either unconsciously allow them to control us, or we will crush them and rush past the warning signals to our own detriment.
How many times have you, or someone you know, stuffed down their emotions or ignored their family members’ emotional distress until the whole family was in extreme crisis – crisis that could have been avoided altogether if the God given emotional signals had been heeded and addressed? It is certainly in our best interest to learn to listen to the voice of God when He speaks through our emotions!
A child who cries and says, “I don’t want to go to school today, ” may just want to stay home in bed, but a wise parent will …click to continue reading