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September 8, 2014

What to do with your feelings

“‘Love the Lord your God … with all your soul.” Mark 12:30 (NIV)

The word soul in the Bible is “psyche.” We get our word psychology from it. Your soul comprises your emotions, feelings, attitudes and will. It’s who you are under the skin. God says that we are to love Him with all our soul and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Feelings can make hitting the bullseye of a focused relationship challenging. How do you handle your feelings? If you want to take your relationships to another level, here are a few tips for dealing with your feelings that I’ve found helpful:

  • Don’t be afraid to express your emotions. Stuffing them can turn into bitterness. God created us with feelings to express our love to Him and others. We feel joy, anger, hurt, fear, sorrow and gratitude. Healthy relationships create a safe place to express your emotions without a judgment call.
  • Don’t run from emotions. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. It’s what you do with them that make the difference. For a long time I would look for a way out rather than confronting how I felt, or worse, sitting and working through how someone else was feeling. It made me feel uncomfortable. The reason we feel comfortable running to God instead of running from Him is because we know He loves us. The psalmist called God his refuge, his hiding place, his strong tower and a mighty fortress! He knew that God’s love could weather any feelings and would remain constant. If you’re running from your emotions, it may be because of insecurity. Healthy relationships provide a secure place to run with your feelings, not from them.
  • Don’t rely on emotions. A long time ago I remember seeing a drawing of a train with an engine, a fuel car and the caboose that gave me perspective on my feelings. The engine had the word facts on it. The fuel car was titled faith and the caboose was labeled feelings. Feelings were a part of the train. Feelings were on the tracks, but they were the caboose and not the engine. If feelings became my engine, then I’m sure to derail. Feelings are an insufficient source of fuel as well. You might run so hot you run off the tracks or so cold you can’t get down the track. It’s our faith that fuels the train based on the facts of God’s promises. Still, feelings follow and provide joy in the journey. Healthy relationships don’t rely on emotions for motion. They understand that as we walk in faith and obedience our feelings will follow.