What Emotions Are Christians Allowed to Feel?
- Becky Beresford Author. Speaker. Dreamer.
- 2020 2 Dec
Deep emotions have always been a part of my DNA. But it wasn’t until recently that I stopped apologizing for them.
I grew up hearing people call me “too sensitive,” implying sensitivity was something out of the ordinary – something that needed to be corrected – something I needed to hide. Whenever I allowed a situation to affect me greatly, I would scan the room, bow my head and quickly cover my face.
I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. Tears would begin to flow, and along with it, guilt. I may not have realized it then, but I felt bad for feeling.
Somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that I couldn’t be “strong” because my deep emotions were the reason I was weak.
It’s taken years of healing and serious Bible reading to break free from that lie and acknowledge an important truth: We were made to experience emotion because we were made by an emotional God.
Here are 4 thoughts to help you process all of your emotions in a godly way, that will actually bring you closer to God!
1. Like Father, Like Child
If we all agree we are made in our Creator’s image, then we also need to acknowledge God is a deep feeler too.
Jesus said, “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” (John 1:18 NLT) Jesus reveals the heart of God to humanity, and He also reveals the validity of our emotions.
We see him mourning with those who are grieving and weeping over the painful effects of sin. Jesus openly expressed love, anger, joy, excitement, exhaustion, jealousy, peace and more. If He is near to the Father’s heart and is the One who reveals God’s character, we can be sure feelings are an integral part of our Creator’s plan.
Even more so, our Father values what we go through each moment. He sees the winding roads we travel and the depths of our darkest days.
Because God sent His Son into this broken world, we can know He understands the pain we face. We do not serve a dictator who is flippant regarding the well-being of his subjects. Instead, we have been invited into a relationship with a loving Father who desires healing and freedom through the death of His Son on a Cross.
Jesus didn’t avoid His feelings, and God wants us to follow in similar suit. And since we know the Savior never sinned, we can assume that experiencing the spectrum of emotions is not a sin either.
2. Emotions Are Not the Problem
As is the case in every growing relationship, feelings will be present and that’s okay. The act of feeling and processing those emotions is an indicator of a healthy and whole human--in mind, body and spirit.
We need to give ourselves the sacred space to sort out what’s going on inside. Suppressing our feelings will only result in burying parts of us that were made to be sanctified and alive.
Emotions, in and of themselves, are not sinful, but the behaviors behind them can be.
It is not a sin to feel scared, anxious or even angry, but what we do with these feelings matter.
If we choose to rely on our emotions instead of the absolute truth, we may respond in a way that leads to sin. Everything we think and feel needs to be held against the wisdom found in the Word of God. If we don’t take every thought or emotion captive, we can open our hearts and minds to unwanted lies.
Satan loves to step in when we are down and whisper deceit into our souls. He doesn’t want us to turn to God. He wants us to turn toward ourselves, or better yet, the noise of the world.
Remember friend… feelings don’t lie to us, Satan does. You are feeling worried. That is not a lie. But Satan wants you to fret and stress and take control of the situation instead of handing it over to God.
You are feeling angry. That is not a lie. But Satan wants you to bypass forgiveness and let bitterness take its root. Our enemy will always be a liar.
Your feelings, however, can be a gift.
And so, the question should not be are you feeling emotions? It should be why?
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/bingokid
3. Embrace the Beauty behind Our Emotions
Our Creator fashioned His children to experience emotions for many reasons, but I believe the most beautiful purpose was to draw his beloved closer to Him. Whether we feel joy or love or peace--or fear or embarrassment or panic--God wants us to walk side-by-side with Him through it all.
Our emotions offer a doorway into the happenings of our heart. When we allow ourselves to process through our feelings, with the lens of God’s truth as our guide, holy growth is guaranteed.
The book of Psalms is a favorite among believers, and I am not surprised one bit. In it, we find pages of authentic thoughts and honesty before the King.
David pours his beating soul out before God, displaying the full kaleidoscope of feelings. And what does God call this deep feeler? A man after God’s own heart.
The Father wants us to be honest with Him. I used to feel bad for bringing ‘negative’ emotions to God, and maybe you feel the same. But we have to remember, God crafted us this way and nothing is concealed from Him.
Plus, if our God is capable of controlling the winds and the sea, He can handle the storm of emotions we sometimes try to hide.
God does not expect His children to be perfect. He wants them to call out to Him from the depths and let Him restore their souls. (Psalm 130)
4. Sensitivity Is a Strength
As I’ve journeyed with Jesus these recent years, He has shifted my harmful view of my emotional makeup. Instead of apologizing for feeling deeply, I’ve come to embrace it.
Being sensitive is not a weakness--it’s a strength that can be used for the glory of God’s Kingdom.
When we reveal our emotions to people, it encourages them to do the same. Being real with each other cultivates fruitful soil from which authentic relationships can grow. Genuine community, grounded in God’s truth and love, changes lives.
And lives transformed by the power the gospel will break through the darkness and bring saving Light to the world.
As a final note, even if we are struggling with harder emotions like anxiety, shame or fear, it is amazing to know there is only one Savior and thankfully, it isn’t us! God is the Source of our strength, so much so that weaknesses can be boasted about because they provide an opportunity for God’s glory to shine all the more.
When we struggle, we can see how God’s grace is sufficient to carry all we lack.
The pressure isn’t on us to perform or keep up a perfect charade. We are not called to hold everything together or stuff our feelings down. Instead, we are told to bring our hurting hearts and heavy burdens to the throne of our good God--no matter how raw they may be.
There He will cover us with His unfailing love and show us His power in our time of need.
Together we will welcome the work of our Maker as we bear His complete image--a representation that reflects His character and reveals the heart of our sensitive God.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Marjan_Apostolovic
Becky Beresford lives in Huntley, IL and is happily outnumbered by her husband and three wild boys. She is a writer and speaker with a Master’s Certificate in Discipleship from Moody Theological Seminary. Becky loves encouraging God’s Daughters to embrace their truest selves in Christ and walk out the gospel truths empowered by God. She would love to connect with you online at BeckyBeresford.com, where you can grab a FREE copy of the Brave Woman Manifesto: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Feel free to follow her and the weekly Brave Women Series on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.