Feelings: Foes or Friends?
- Monday, March 16, 2009
Be passionate. Passion, which is fueled by emotions, gives you the motivation to do whatever God calls you to do and empowers you to achieve great results. Instead of serving God just out of a sense of obligation, because you know it’s the right thing to do, let your love for God fuel a sense of passion within you to serve. Passion will enable you to live a whole and healthy life – one that moves beyond drudgery and burnout, one that will help you discover joy even in the midst of pain. Passion will make it easier to obey God’s commands, because you’ll be motivated not just by what you should do, but because that’s what you really want to do. That kind of obedience will bring God’s power into your life. You can find fresh passion by: reading the Bible with a new perspective (as a story of real people feeling real emotions in their real lives in connection to a real God), engaging in vibrant prayer while walking outside in God’s creation, finding something bigger than yourself (like helping someone else in need) and pouring your heart into that effort, and letting go of attempts to control your own emotions while opening yourself up to feeling them fully.
See your emotions as your friends, not your enemies. Rather than viewing your emotions as enemies that can cause you trouble, embrace them as friends, since God designed them to empower, encourage, and strengthen you. You can trust your feelings to counsel you about the people and situations you encounter. Ask God to direct your emotions in the right way. Choose to fill your mind with what God loves (which you can discover by getting to know the Bible well) and avoid what God hates (anything that glorifies sin or celebrates evil). Use your feelings about whatever you encounter in life to help you identify what you truly believe and what you value most. Then let your emotions motivate you to act faithfully in response to them. Keep in mind that even negative emotions like anger or jealousy can help you by showing you areas in which you need to grow.
Understand what your feelings mean. Focus on your emotions and ask God to help you understand why you’re feeling a certain way. Consider whether your emotions are based on knowledge that’s either right or wrong. Pray for God to show you the truth, and base your emotions on that truth. Think about what your feelings reveal about your priorities – what you value most – and why. Then choose to line up your values with what God says is most valuable. In the process, He’ll transform you. Finally, consider what your emotions reveal about what you believe – and whether or not your beliefs are indeed based on biblical truth. If not, change the way you think, and your feelings will change in the process. Let your emotions lead you to a deeper understanding of your relationship with God.
Grow important emotions. The Bible mentions four emotions that God wants you to grow: love (for God, neighbors, and goodness), joy (in God, good relationships, and the good things in life), hope (in God’s power and promises, and in your eternal destiny), and hatred (of evil). Read the Bible often, noticing what God wants you to feel. Then build those emotional understandings into your life. Don’t settle for less than the best God wants for you, which is to become emotionally whole.
Keep unexpected emotions that come into your life. The feelings that come from unexpected experiences like sudden hardships have a special purpose in your life. If you pay attention to them instead of trying to deny them or throw them away, they’ll help you understand more about yourself and God. Go ahead and fully feel your emotions – no matter how painful they are – because they will lead you to rely on God more and grow closer to Him. Feel grief over loss, joy about victory, sorrow over pain, anger at injustice, etc. Be real with God, yourself, and other people. Trust God to enrich your life as you embrace your unexpected emotions.
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