Is being overly emotional a bad thing? Let’s find out in our final of three posts breaking down the different areas of our soul. Made up of our mind, our will, and our emotions, each are powerful ways we can be led of the spirit. On the flip side, as with many things, these can also be areas where our soul leads over our spirit; not a good thing.
If this is your first time here, welcome! We encourage you to go back and read Take Captive Every Thought to learn about our mind, and then The Beautiful Gift of Choice whose focus is on our will. Then you’ll be all caught up with this mini-series within a series.
Created by God, emotions are not only necessary in our lives, but they bring a beautiful depth to the world. God is a God of emotion, and we are made in his image. Throughout the Bible there are numerous instances of God revealing His emotions to mankind. Anger and compassion, grief and joy, love and hate. Yes, God hates things.
Now let’s just take a step back for a second and pause. God’s emotions likely take on a much purer form than our own. His love is incomprehensible to us, and the weight of His grief is probably more than we could ever bare. Our version of hate has been perverted and looks nothing like God’s. The emotions we feel, while the same type, are not of the same quality as His. But we believe that through time, with the help of the Holy Spirit, our emotions can be brought into a more perfect alignment with His.
Spirit Led Emotions
What does it look like to be led by the spirit in our emotions? Is anyone else aware of the fact that emotions are real and can very easily be the part of us we let lead? If emotions were created by God, then that means there is a healthy place for them in our lives. That particular place is not in the drivers seat. Our emotions are meant to come under the leading of our spirit, and our spirit is always to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Think of it this way. There are two ditches that we may find ourselves in when it comes to our emotions. The first is allowing our emotions to lead the way in everything. On this side of the road, we’re allowing our emotions to sit on the throne of our lives. Have you ever said something like this to yourself? “I won’t do it if I don’t don’t feel like it.” Taken at face value it seems like such an innocent statement, but it’s not.
In this place we can start to base truth off our emotions and feelings, rather on the truth of what God says. We will avoid things that don’t feel good and make decisions based on what feels right. Now don’t get me wrong, I 100% believe in the intuition that is found in our spirit, but this is different. This is when we allow emotions from our soul to lead over our spirit’s intuition.
It’s way easier to rejoice or mourn with someone when you’re sitting right next to them versus way above up on your man-made pedestal.
The emotion rises up within us and before checking in with our spirit we quickly act based on whatever comes up. Another prime example is getting angry and immediately lashing out with little to no thought who gets hurt in the process. Yes, both Lee and I are guilty as charged, as we’ve experienced this many times before, especially in the beginning of our marriage.
The Other Ditch
If we find ourselves in either one of these ditches it is so easy to justify ourselves by looking across the road over at the other ditch, saying to ourself “well at least I am not like that”, “I am not over emotional”, or “I am not so cold and hard hearted.” This kind of judgement can keep us stuck where we are. This is also a place where pride seems to rear its head more.
Hey, this is Lee here. My turn to share, because I used to not only live in this particular ditch, I also loved being here. I felt safe, secure, and powerful. No one could ever phase me, no matter what they said because I was soo above their level. I’d look down on all the poor people who were victims of their emotions. Unlike them, who seemed to be at the mercy of whichever way the wind was blowing that day, I was a rock.
Then the Lord showed me one day that I truly was a rock… in my heart. Yikes! Needless to say, it took a few years of unlearning bad habits. Little by little, my heart softened enough to begin experiencing the beautiful ups and downs of emotions. It’s way easier to rejoice or mourn with someone when you’re sitting right next to them versus way above up on your man-made pedestal.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.Romans 12:15 (ESV)
Time for a Gut Check
So take a moment, close your eyes and ask Holy Spirit if at this time in your life you are in one of these ditches. And it is very possible to jump from one ditch to the other. If He reveals an area of your life stuck in one of these ditches this prayer may help you along your journey:
Jesus, you yourself told us to ask and it will be given; seek and we will find; knock and the door will be opened; everyone who does so receives. So here I am, asking for my emotions to be in alignment with yours. I give you full permission with a glad heart, to come and recalibrate my emotional self.
Healthy Expression of Emotions.
Remember the whack-a-mole analogy from our last blog? Healthy expression of our emotions is similar, and the good news is the process goes much slower. Here’s why. Whenever a feeling pops onto our radar, let’s use anger for example, we can take as long as we need to go through this 5-step process. This process by the way, is an adaptation of Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
There’s an Event
The first step is being aware of the specific event that triggered your feelings. In our example, let’s say you found out a friend betrayed you. It’s that simple. Something happened.
Which Causes a Thought
Because we have brains and live in a world filled with events, we have thoughts about what’s going on around us. Since you were betrayed, this event is going to cause you to think all kinds of stuff; maybe it’s in the form of mental movies. You may imagine yourself confronting your friend, writing a mean Facebook post, etc. It’s here in the thought process where you’ll discover the feeling attached to those thoughts. Sit with your thoughts and ask yourself how they make you feel. Happy? Likely not. Angry? Probably so.
Which Elicits a Feeling
Now that you have awareness of the feeling and where it came from, you need to process it in a healthy, constructive way. Believe me, the last thing you want to do is stuff it down and suppress it. I think we all know what happens later on down the road with that tactic. It festers until one day weeks and months (or even years) of suppressed feelings explode.
The proper thing to do is acknowledge the feeling as valid, to not be afraid or ashamed of it. Then you need to understand the role it plays in highlighting one of your unmet needs (the next step). Think of your feelings as indicator lights pointing to different needs. They’re your helpful guides.
Once you’ve become aware of this feeling, you have to do something with it. Often our first reaction is to share it with the world, or even the person that hurt us, but that’s not usually helpful.
When we look to God to meet our needs, it makes it that much easier to extend grace to others when they fail us.
So who should you share it with? God of course. The great thing about God is He can take anything you can dish out. Like any good father, He wants to hear what’s going on with you, and then He wants to love on you like no one else can. Boast to Him about your accomplishments and He’ll celebrate with you. Vent your anger to Him and He’ll lend you the most unbiased, understanding ear available. Cry your guts out and He’s there to wipe away the tears.
The greatest part about bringing your feelings before God is that He is the only one who can truly meet all your needs. Sure, feel free to share with those close to you, just remember to give God the first fruits per se.
Revealing a Need
If we now go back to the event of being betrayed, we can see where our need went unmet and why it caused us to feel a certain way. We were looking for trust and safety in another person, and that person did not live up to our expectations. We needed them to be a reliable friend and they failed. Hey, guess what, we all fall short and will fail others. This doesn’t mean completely abandon faith in others. It means we need to understand that others will fail us and that’s ok, because we’re all a work in progress.
When we look to God to meet our needs, it makes it that much easier to extend grace to others when they fail us. Because our identity is rooted in Christ, we’re in a much better position to respond to those who’ve hurt us. Forgiveness comes easier, your counsel becomes attractive, and you display the love of God in a more powerful way.
Providing You With a Better Response
Here we are, the fifth and final step in a healthy emotional cycle. When events happen, we’re able to better respond because we’ve taken our feelings to God and have gotten our needs met by Him. We’ve given Him all of our emotional baggage instead of shoving it down. Lastly, we’ve gained insight into the event that happened and why it hurt us. All of this happens because we’ve chosen to be led by our spirit and not our soul.
Now that we’re rooted on stable ground, if and when we approach our friend, we can do so from a place of love and wisdom. Ever hear the advice to wait 24 hours before sending that email you wrote in the heat of the moment? This is like that, but with more focus on processing things with the Lord while you wait.
We could dive so much deeper into this topic, that’s for another day and time. Just know that this process isn’t just for hurt feelings. If you’re apt to toot your own horn and want someone to really brag to, brag to God first. He wants to be part of all you experience. Just take a look at how often King David poured out his feelings to God throughout the Psalms. Many of the writers in the Bible express their feelings to God through both poetry and prose. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
How Do You Process Emotions?
How do you process emotions? Have you learned something similar to this? Do you have a good story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Send us an email or leave a comment. We have two more weeks left in our Spirit Soul Body series and we’re loving this topic! Hope you are as well.
Did You Miss Our Other Posts?
Hi there! This post is part of our current series on our three part being; Spirit Soul Body. We’re spending nine weeks focusing on what makes up the complete package called “us.” In case you missed them, here’s a handy reference of all the posts in this series.