I found myself on the living room floor in a pile of tears, sobbing uncontrollably.
If anyone had seen me, they might have wondered what right I had to be so upset. My life is great. I have two wonderful kids, with whom I get to stay home, an amazing husband, a roof over my head, wonderful family and friends, health... the list goes on. But on this day, my emotions overcame me and they flowed out like a raging river. In this instance, it happened to be from struggling in my role as a mom and trying to keep my sanity with my kids. On any given day, it could be a wide variety of other things. The point is, emotions can be overpowering, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Emotions hit us all. There are times we feel justified for being emotional (such as the death of a family member, divorce, or loss of a job) and then there are times when our emotions are triggered by things seemingly so small, but which strike a nerve in our hearts. When I feel intense emotions about something that seems trivial, it’s easy to start feeling guilty, which then in turn makes me feel even worse. It’s a vicious cycle that has the enemy’s fingerprints all over it, and we need to be aware of it.
"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour"
(1 Peter 5:8
The enemy uses many tactics to try to limit our effectiveness. Oftentimes, he will use our own thoughts and emotions against us in an attempt to render us useless. Guilt, which can be debilitating, is a very large weapon in his arsenal. Guilt starts a slippery slope which is followed by shame, withdrawal, inaction, and ultimately pushing God away.
What I’ve come to realize, however, is that expressing our emotions can actually be beneficial for us. The area of emotions is one where the enemy wants to turn something potentially positive into something very negative. If we are aware of this, we can reap the benefits of our emotions instead of allowing them to bring us down. Here are three ways I believe expressing our emotions can be helpful in our lives.
Emotions Can Bring Us Closer to God
When I feel guilty for being emotional, it’s because for some reason I feel like expressing my emotions is bad and means I am weak. In reality, the Bible
says that God is close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18
). If having a broken heart were a sin, then why would God be extra close to us during that time? On the contrary, our deep emotions have a strong power to draw us closer to him! It’s no wonder Satan attacks us in this area to try to draw us AWAY from God instead! Satan knows the power of intimacy that is found when we truly surrender our hurts and fears to God and let him comfort and strengthen us, and Satan will do anything he can to stop that.
Many of my most intimate moments with God have been during periods of heartbreak (break-ups, betrayals by a friend, fights with a family member, etc.). A majority of the book of Psalms is David expressing that same reality! David went through many tough times and he poured his heart out to God each time.
“I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears” (Psalm 6:6 NLT).
“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me... Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice”
(Psalm 55:4, 17 NIV)
David didn’t hold back in expressing his intense emotions and he grew closer to God because of it. He’s even described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14
). Now that’s a description of a close relationship with God!
Emotions Help Us Experience God’s Grace
God created our emotions so he’s not scared or mad when they manifest. Instead, he is there to hold and comfort us when we experience our intense emotions, which in turn helps us experience a level of his wonderful grace. Any added guilt over being emotional is from the enemy, because God (being full of grace and mercy) doesn’t make us feel guilty.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Instead of condemnation, God offers us immeasurable comfort, like no human could ever give. On top of that, he showers even more grace to those around us by helping us to offer comfort to others when show them the source of the comfort we’ve received. Because God’s grace is so amazing, he ensures that his blessings extend to more than just ourselves.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us”
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Emotions Give Us An Outlet
Perhaps the most impactful example in the Bible about intense emotions comes from Jesus. We know Jesus was sinless and yet he expressed some very intense emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow. Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with me’”
(Matthew 26:37-38, AMP
Jesus had to go through quite a few horrific experiences in order to redeem mankind from its sin, and while we know Jesus was God’s son, it’s easy to forget his human side and what it must have been like to go through all of that. I know that whenever I am facing an impending tough situation, like preparing for my husband to leave for a few months on a work trip, or invasive surgery, the anticipation of the event beforehand seems to be the worst part. Agonizing over the both the unknown and the known and anticipating the pain is mentally exhausting. If I try to hold it all together and not express the emotions I feel, I eventually will explode and act out in an unhealthy way, but If I express my emotions in a healthy context before they become too much, it allows me to face the situation without as much baggage.
Expressing our emotions allows us to purge those feelings somewhat and gives us an outlet for them so we have the strength to keep walking and face whatever storm we are in or headed into. Jesus needed to express his intense emotions before he walked through the crucifixion process. His emotions gave him an outlet and that allowed him to tap into God’s strength that would carry him through the most horrific experience.
When we allow ourselves a healthy outlet for expressing our emotions, we are able to do so without sinning. For it is not the expression of our emotions that is sin, but rather the unhealthy actions as a result that tear us and those around us down.
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry”
The most important thing we can do when facing our emotions is to ultimately trust God with whatever we are going through and whatever is causing our emotions. God understands our emotions, but he also wants to help us move past them into a place of healing. Let’s follow David’s example, who after pouring out his emotional heart to God, vowed to continue to trust him.
Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and their two sons. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on Facebook.
Publication date: May 29, 2015
Cortni Marrazzo lives in Spokane, WA with her husband Jason and their two elementary-age sons, one of which has special needs. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for the local church and encouraging and inspiring people toward God's word. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on Facebook.