God’s Word > Your Emotions

God’s Word > Your Emotions

Who hasn’t had moments where you had a rush of emotion and sent a text or made a decision from that place? Maybe it turns out okay. And maybe it doesn’t. I wanted to do that the other day when I had an upsetting conversation with someone. I felt completely justified in my feelings and drafted an email in response. But something stopped me. Or rather someONE: I think the Holy Spirit put the brakes on the email I wrote. I should say thanks because I’m guessing it wouldn’t have gone too well. We’ve all seen the damage that angry people can do with an email, amiright??

My emotions were real and important and need dealt with, but not all of them are godly and helpful in responding to a situation. Emotions are more like kids on a car trip: you can’t let them take the wheel but you can’t throw ‘em in the trunk either. Truth be told I’m more of a trunk-thrower, but lately I’ve been feeling some things deeply and learning to submit these emotions to the Word of God BEFORE I move on them. I did that this morning, and as I looked back I thought I’d share exactly what I did with God and the Bible in case it would help you process yours.

I began my morning reading and prayer time feeling kinda distant and angry…not at God – just in general as a result of a situation at-hand. I started by writing out the Lord’s Prayer from my heart to God, which is always where I go if I don’t know how to start praying. Today it reminded me that God is my Father, so I can tell him how I feel. So I did.

    1. I wrote out a prayer with aaaaalllllll the feelings: no holding back. I started with “Father – I am angry…” and then went on from there. I told Him all about the things I felt and then some details about why I felt each way. I said things like “I feel devalued.” “I feel discriminated against”…Some of these feelings I thought I had every right to feel and all the evidence supported my POV. Others were mildly embarrassing, and I wouldn’t try to justify them to you at all. Yet there they were. I didn’t judge my feelings: I just told God what they were as honestly as I could. 

 

    1. Then I made myself a list of all my feeling words. I wanted to kind of get a vibe of all of them together: (You get a super clear picture here don’t you?!)
      • Angry
      • Insulted
      • Jealous
      • Minimized
      • Devalued
      • Alone 
      • Unsupported
      • Discriminated-against
    2. Next I asked the Spirit to bring scripture to mind that I should read in this emotional place.
      This is the tricky part if you don’t regularly read scripture. God can point me different places through the Holy Spirit just because I’m familiar with what’s in there. He has better access to speak to you, prompt you or bring a scripture to mind if you’re building up experience in His Word (That’s why I’m always encouraging people to read their Bible!!!). If this isn’t you I still encourage you to ask in prayer because something may come to mind. But if not, you can also reach out to a friend or a pastor, asking “If you felt like this; (give ‘em your list), what part(s) of the Bible would you read?”

 

    1. I read the scripture. For me, today, it was Philippians 2:1-11. This passage is a favorite of mine, so it is easy for God to use to reach me. I thought of it right away when I asked. As I was reading it I just wanted to stay open to anything the Spirit might say so I; a) wrote out the passage piece by piece just to let it soak in; b) thought about why this would come to mind in my current state and jotted some notes about that. For me, today, it was Philippians 2:1-11. This passage is a favorite of mine, so it is easy for God to use to reach me. I thought of it right away when I asked. As I was reading it I just wanted to stay open to anything the Spirit might say so I; a) wrote out the passage piece by piece just to let it soak in; b) thought about why this would come to mind in my current state and jotted some notes about that.

 

    1. I summarized what the text of scripture said.  For that passage I wrote: “This says if I want to be great then it cannot come from anything selfish: it must come from a desire to serve my Father’s will. The path to significance will always be through lifting others up. What’s good for others should be the basis of my actions and decisions. If I want to be like Jesus then I need to be okay with lower positions than I might think I deserve. When I am like this in my attitudes and actions then I become trustworthy with authority because I am only concerned about God’s reputation and not my own.”

 

  1. Last, I prayed and asked God what actions I should take/not take as a result. 

      For me this was (these are based on the scripture I read):

      1. I will publicly praise ______ (a person’s name) this week somehow. 
      2. I will keep my mouth shut about my complaints because they appear to be rooted in concern for my own reputation. I’ll trust God with that instead. 
      3. I will not send an email to _____’s boss about what’s been taken from me. I will ask God to fight for me and for the chance to enter a productive face to face conversation instead. 
      4. I asked God to return what’s been taken from me only if I am the one who can get the most glory for HIM with it.

    It’s so hard to do this while we live in a culture that encourages emotions to run the show. I still feel what I was feeling. (Though the intensity did lessen just processing them with God). The best advice is not necessarily to ‘follow your heart:’ the Bible actually says we have good reason to suspect our emotions might not be the things that lead us to life:

    “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,

        and desperately wicked.

        Who really knows how bad it is?

    But I, the Lord, search all hearts

        and examine secret motives.” Jeremiah 17: 9-10

    My emotions are helpful and I have to be honest with myself and God. They were not zapped away with this exercise, and I might need to go back to them with God again. But just the practice of putting them underneath God’s Word is huge: it reminds me there’s a Truth higher than whatever emotions are pulsing through my heart today. 

    How Jesus did Friendship

    How Jesus did Friendship

    You can love everyone, but you can’t love them all the same way! Jesus did relationships in a way that gave life to all the people around him without being burned out or exhausted. Organize your friendships like he did and you’ll be able to do the same!

    Fasting – Ugh, the waiting.

    Fasting – Ugh, the waiting.

    Fasting: never been my favorite spiritual discipline. Simply put – fasting is refraining from eating food for a spiritual purpose: it’s not a physical diet (down with diet culture!). It’s something we are given the privilege of doing as a follower of Jesus in order to grow in intimacy with our Father and to see spiritual breakthrough. As someone who’s trying to not just read the Bible, but actually DO its words, I have to admit that Jesus assumed fasting would be a part of the DO-ing of our faith. For Jesus it was a “duh, of course” you will. In Matthew 6, Jesus laid out three practices that he assumed were occurring in the life of every one of his followers: He said “When you give..When you pray…When you fast.” WHEN you fast. 

    Truth is, I knew I didn’t practice these words with any kind of diligence and deep commitment. So when my mentor texted me on New Year’s Eve with an invitation to join into her annual New Year’s fast, I immediately felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to say yes. I sat there with champagne in one hand and a cookie in the other and agreed to start the next day with them.  I thought I was going to hate it. Three weeks is a long time. But instead I began 2021 feeling very close to Jesus.

    Also – I still don’t like to fast. 

    I did a variety of types: some days were only liquids. There were a handful of categories I gave up for the entire period (breads, sweets, alcohol – all for spiritual, symbolic purposes that mean something between me & God). Other days I’d fast certain meals to focus on certain prayers. I read a great book on fasting during these weeks to stay encouraged (find the Amazon link on my book reco page!) and we had a group text to share prayers and pick each other up on bad days. Each of us had chosen certain themes or focus areas for our entire 3 weeks of prayer. We often prayed for each other’s issues. (Bonus; fasting as a group builds deeper relationships). 

    I finished feeling sure that God would release blessing of all kinds into my life: 

    Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

    Matthew 6:33

    Fasting is seeking the Lord over top the other things we crave for ourselves. It goes on the pile of evidence-that-God-really-does-come-first-in-your-life. Instead of starting the year praying only for what I wanted to happen in 2021 (which certainly isn’t bad!), I started the year actually seeking God first. It felt good. But here’s the thing I have to report back 6 months later;

    I’m still waiting. 

    Almost none of the tangible things I prayed for has come to pass. Is 6 months a long time? Not with eternity in view, but there are days it feels long to me. 

    Fasting is not a way to manipulate God to give you what you want, but it does come with a promise of reward. 

    But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    James 4:7

    There’s a tension here, and there’s no way to resolve it. Jesus calls us to fast in obedience and then also says we will be rewarded. Fasting in scripture is CLEARLY part of significant breakthrough and direction. We can absolutely enter a fast with an expectant heart, but we cannot dictate the conditions, the timing, the manner or the methods of God’s breakthrough and blessing. We fast in trust. And then we wait. Even as I sit here not yet seeing the things I have asked of God…

    I will obey. 

    I will believe there are and will continue to be all kinds of spiritual realities impacted by this fast in my life. 

    I will remind myself that faith always includes the tension of things I don’t yet see.

    Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

    Hebrews 11:1-2

    I’ve put off writing this because – truth be told – I wanted to report back with an update that I’d seen all the things I have asked for! Truth is, I’ve seen some movements here and there in a few directions but no major breakthroughs. Truth is, some days I cry because things don’t seem to be going where I thought God was leading. Truth is, I have days I doubt the fast mattered. But I keep going back to something the book I was reading reminded me of:

    God highly prizes – and never, ever forgets- true faithfulness.

    Months – even years- after a fast, God will see me down on my knees in front of my pantry saying to Him “I want you more than I want food. As hungry as I am, I am hungrier for your hand on my life and your mercy, guidance and love. I want YOU more than any of this.” His memory doesn’t fade, and his concept of time is not like mine. God never forgets.

    Fasting is definitely one of the things I’d put in the column of “easier read than done,” but I believe it is worth it. Our Lord is true to his Word. So while today I haven’t seen breakthrough, the reality is that I just haven’t seen it YET.