Why Your Emotions Matter More Than You Think (and 3 ways to cultivate a better relationship with them)
Emotions can be pesky little things. We can try to run from them, we can try to get around them, yet they always surface when we least expect them.
We’ve all grown up with different beliefs about emotions. Some of us were taught (verbally or nonverbally) that emotions are bad —a sign of weakness —to be ignored or pushed away in favor of logic and reason, which are safer, better, it would seem. Others grew up in households where emotions ran high, where feelings were shouted rather than spoken, and individuals lived in the chaos of emotional highs and lows.
Add to this the spiritual dimension where many in the church are often taught that good emotions are good —blessings to be pursued and enjoyed —while bad emotions are bad —attacks from the enemy, a sign of sin for sure —and we can become lost in a hurricane of confusion without ever knowing how to calm the internal storm.
That’s where I landed. Confused. A mess, really. I had no understanding of God’s design for my spiritual/emotional wellbeing, nor could I even fathom a life of stability, wholeness, or peace with my emotions.
The word emotion comes from the French word ‘emovoire’ – to excite, and is defined as, ‘a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others, instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.’
Here’s the truth —God designed us as emotional beings. He did, and He declared that it was good. (Gen. 1:31, NIV) God created all of our emotions, not just the positive ones. Jesus experienced all emotions (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV), and He did so without sin. John Calvin memorably summed it up, ‘Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.’
There is nowhere in Scripture where it defines the victorious, Christian, self-actualized life as one where we reach a nirvana of emotional bliss and get to skip the line for despair, sorrow, anger, rejection, and a whole host of other negative emotions. Jesus didn’t, so why should we?
We will find the abundant life God designed for us the more we recognize the importance of our emotions and learn to pursue a life of Emotional Abundance, which is defined in my book, Peace For A Lifetime, as, ‘the over-sufficient supply, the overflowing fullness in the area of our instinctive, intuitive feeling responses as we come in contact with our environment and our relationships. It is the ability to feel our emotions, to reason through our emotions, to understand our emotions and to effectively manage our emotions so that we can appropriately respond to the people and circumstances around us. It is the capacity to meet the demands of everyday life and create meaning, in order to move forward in a positive direction.’
Here are three ways we can start today to develop a healthy relationship with our emotions and experience a life of strength, stability, and peace.
1. Don’t Stifle Your Emotions.
Face them. Feel them. We will never lead the life we want to lead, we will never experience stability if we live our lives running from every feeling that lies around the corner.
Stifling our emotions is not only hazardous to our emotional health, it is hazardous to our spiritual and physical health as well. Suppressed feelings don’t evaporate; they eventually burst out and wreak havoc in our lives. We all know the mess a burst emotional pipe can make. Ulcers and migraines. Family feuds and broken friendships. Anger and retaliation. Emotions are not bad; stifling our emotions is bad.
If you have a hard time developing a healthy relationship with your emotions, my book Peace For A Lifetime, teaches all about emotions and can equip with step by step instructions on how to experience the abundance and peace in every area of your life!
2. See Your Emotions As A Gift From God To Guide You.
No, our emotions shouldn’t control us, but God put them there to give us the first indications that something is going on inside us that God wants to use to get our attention. Learning to welcome our emotions in an appropriate way, is the first step towards understanding them and using God’s two other great gifts —the gift of our mind and the gift of our will —to speak the truth to our emotions, to calm them, to care for them so that we can take healthy steps forward on our journey.
As long as we see our emotions as the enemy, we will remain in a constant state of defeat and despair. The reason —we cannot live a life without negative emotions. The stresses and circumstances of life invite them. Trying to simply pray them away or run from them, is not only an impossible task, it is not what God has for you. He wants you to build balance, health, and understanding in your relationship with your emotions. Do it, and watch what happens.
3. Learn To Glorify God In Your Emotions.
John Piper says that, ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.’
When we develop a healthy relationship with our emotions, an amazing thing happens: we no longer have to be afraid of our emotions, nor do we have to run from them. Finding clarity, truth, healing, understanding, and direction, in our emotions yields the gift of abundance and peace that extends into all of our relationships, even our relationship with God.
I don’t know about you, but I long to find my deepest satisfaction in God. By discovering healing and wholeness in my emotional life, it binds together and strengthens my physical and spiritual self as well.
That is the wholeness God talked about in I Thess. 5:23 (AMP) when it says, Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [that is, separate you from profane and vulgar things, make you pure and whole and undamaged—consecrated to Him—set apart for His purpose]; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete and [be found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you struggle to feel, name, or work through your emotions effectively, I’ve created several powerful resources, including my Emotions Chart, Emotional Intelligence Toolkit to help you grow in your emotional wellbeing and equip you to walk well in your life and relationships. They are FREE (along with my ENTIRE resource library) when you subscribe to my weekly newsletter and will empower and equip you to discover the spiritual, emotional, and relational healing and wellbeing you’ve always desired!
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About This Community
Don't we all want a little peace? My heart for this community is to provide just that - a needed refuge from all the burdens that weigh us down, some encouragement and inspiration to keep us weary travelers moving forward on our journeys, and some practical advice to help each of us navigate the challenges of life and relationships. Whether in our parenting, our marriages, our faith, or the broken places in our hearts, this place is for anyone who dares to reach beyond the hopelessness that surrounds us and embrace a lifestyle of emotional abundance and peace!
About Peace for a Lifetime
In my book, Peace for a Lifetime, I share the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. Through personal and professional experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I've discovered how to take the broken pieces of life and find indestructible peace with myself, God and with others. Through my story and other’s stories you’ll realize that you can experience the life for which you long. You can experience abundance beyond anything you can imagine. You can experience peace, not just for today, not just for tomorrow. You can experience peace —for a lifetime!
Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com.
Book Trailer: https://vimeo.com/155392891