Most of us have very strong feelings…about our feelings.
You might be the kind of person who has strong feelings and expresses what you feel. Then again, maybe you’re the kind of person who views life through a more analytical lens, or maybe you go with your gut. No matter how you make decisions in life, we all have emotions. They aren’t bad. Sometimes, our feelings are right on, even before our brain catches up and understands them. Even if we don’t like the results of our feelings, they still exist for a reason. When these feelings become especially strong, it is important that we are able to acknowledge and state, “This is how I feel.”
However, acknowledging our feelings does not mean we hand them the wheel. Our feelings, just like our thoughts and our physical impulses, all exist to help us live in the world. That doesn’t mean that they get to run the show. Sometimes, strong feelings can override our good sense and even keep us from being the people that we want to be. Which causes us to ask the question, “Who do we want to be?” As children of God, what should our relationship to our emotions look like? We serve an ordered, perfect God, who also wept when He walked the earth.
As we acknowledge our emotions, a few guiding questions can go a long way:
- Am I being the best version of myself?
- Are these feelings causing me to be salt and light as a follower of Jesus?
We are called to simply respond to Jesus. Sometimes our feelings are at odds with that goal. Our fear, our anger, our sadness, or even our desire to be happy can stand between us and all that God has for us. When that happens, we need to make the choice that counts. We need to choose to follow Jesus instead of our emotions. We need to believe in what he has said about himself, us, and the world we live in, more than our own experience.
Other times, we have the right feelings in a situation, but the wrong application. We can go into a situation with the correct response and still make a mess. If we’re not careful, our righteous anger can become a misguided mantra. Grieving what grieves the heart of God can so easily slip into hopelessness and doubt. Satisfaction can become and addiction to pleasure and caution an addiction to worry. The list goes on. God’s Spirit can move upon our feelings in powerful ways, but self-control is one of the fruits of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
As someone who experiences strong feelings and is a talker, I have to be careful with my words. If I feel strongly about something, I have to make sure that I watch what I say. In every situation, I have to decide if I’m going to follow my emotions or check them and follow Jesus. I’m deciding whether I am going to preach to myself or listen to myself.
Brothers and sisters, may our words be few and may they bless those who hear them.