Many believers are asking: "How can I control my emotions as a Christian?"
The following inspirational interview on this subject is with Amy Carroll. Amy is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She's the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services.
As a woman who loves a great story and a challenging idea, co-hosting her podcast, Grit 'n' Grace, has become one of her favorite things.
1. What are your favorite Scriptures that help you manage your emotions and why?
Recently I was studying the book of Luke when a little story in chapter 7 jumped off the page at me. Luke 7:12-13 says, "When He came near the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, 'Do not weep."
This very short story is filled with rich details if we slow down and read between the lines. Jesus encountered a woman who must have been wild with grief. Her husband had already died, and now she had lost her only son. How alone she must have felt even in the large crowd of friends, family, and neighbors.
Even though Jesus was just passing through, His attention turned to this woman, and "his heart went out to her." Our Savior is so kind and compassionate. Our feelings matter to Him.
As a reforming perfectionist who tried to deny her emotions for years, especially the negative ones, it comforts me to know Jesus wasn't anxious to avoid the woman's grief. Instead, He engaged her emotions, gave her comfort and met her need. We need to allow Him to do the same with our emotions.
2. What are three of your best tips to help others manage their emotions in godly ways?
- It's useless to try to stuff our emotions away and not feel them. God created us with emotions, and they can be a gift. When a teen-ager at our church died tragically in an accident at a youth retreat, a professional counselor came to talk to our group and said, "Feel all of your emotions, and then lay them at the foot of the cross."
I've carried this healthy advice with me. Instead of either denying our emotions or wallowing in them, we can feel them and then lay them down at Jesus' feet. Our suffering Savior understands and is trustworthy.
- Pay attention to your emotions, but make them pay attention to the truth. One of the main habits I've tried to cultivate is to be sensitive to what I'm feeling but to correct flawed feelings with God's truth.
When I'm reading the Bible every day and filling myself with God's perspective, my perspective follows and is put into its proper place. I want my feelings to be informational but not dictatorial.
- Feeling the negative emotions opens the door to feeling the positive ones too. In one of my favorite books about suffering, the author says that grief expands our soul. I love that idea and believe it's true. Tremendous suffering doesn't feel good, but it leaves our soul space ready for more joy too.
3. What sabotaging thoughts (lies) do believers need to release that keep them in bondage to negative emotions?
"Follow your heart" is one of those phrases our culture loves, but Scripture says, "The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9).
I'd say that we need to listen to our heart, not ignoring our emotions, but we need to follow the Lord. Often that means asking God to bring our emotions into alignment with His reality rather than letting our flawed human perceptions create a skewed reality.
4. What are some things believers can do at the "moment of decision" when they are tempted to practice destructive behavior when emotionally upset?
My answer ties right into part of the purpose of this ministry, because too often I've used food as comfort instead of fuel. I'm working (and begging God to help me) to change my habits to healthier defaults. Taking a walk is good for both my head and my heart, so I'm making a conscious effort to do that instead of sitting down with a whole bag of cookies.
This article originally appeared at takebackyourtemple.com.
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