As imperfect humans, everyone has experienced of being heavily influenced by their emotions at various times. But when your life is ruled by emotions, they control your decisions, actions, and your mental health.
When this happens, it takes God out of the driver’s seat of your life, and puts your emotions there instead.
Letting God continually lead your decisions and actions requires a daily and life-long practice of placing His Way and His Word first. This can be a struggle, but it’s a struggle worth engaging in.
Here are some things that you can do to help you in this battle.
Give Yourself Grace
Self-judgement can be a natural response when you start to feel what are often categorized as “negative” emotions, especially ones that don’t seem to line up with Christian living, like anger or jealousy. Both enjoyable and difficult emotions are part of the human experience, so it’s important to change the way you think if you view emotions as being either positive or negative.
All of your emotions are given to you by God and have a purpose. If you condemn and judge yourself for feeling a “negative” emotion, it’s going to make those emotions feel even worse by adding shame to them. So remind yourself that it’s never wrong to feel and experience a difficult emotion.
Acknowledge and Express your Emotions
Leaning into these emotions and giving yourself the space and opportunity to really feel them is a scary process, but this process actually helps the intensity of the emotions to eventually lessen more and more, rather than hang around in the back of your mind and heart. When you lean into these emotions, you actually position yourself to experience a new level of God’s comfort and love of your life.
"If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath." Psalm 34:18 MSG
Find a Safe Place
Determining a safe place to acknowledge and express your emotions is very important and a good place to start is with just you and God. This can be through prayer, journaling, or however you process best. If you feel stuck or struggle to process alone, it can help to also process with a trusted person/people in your life, like a counselor, a good friend, or your spouse. Working through your emotions and thoughts with God and with trusted people prevents you from doing so at the expense of others.
"A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath, but harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger." Proverbs 15:1 AMP
Embrace God’s Comfort and Healing
One of the most precious gifts that God has given us is His Holy Spirit, also known as our Helper and our Comforter (John 14:26 AMP). When we experience strong emotions and explore the source of where they come from, it can be a very raw and painful process, God longs to comfort us through this process. He desires to heal our emotional wounds, but we have to let Him into our hearts and embrace His comfort in order to fully experience that healing.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]." Psalm 147:3 AMP
Choose God’s Word
The most important thing you can do to avoid being controlled by your emotions is to resolve to choose obedience to God’s Word over your feelings, no matter how strong the emotion is.
One of the most powerful admonitions addressing the balance of emotions and actions is one Paul shared with the Ephesians: "And don’t sin by letting anger control you.'"(Ephesians 4:26 NLT). This verse is a great encouragement because it reassures us that it is possible to experience an intense emotion, without letting it control your actions. Not letting emotions rule you is a discipline and a practice, but it’s one that God will walk you through and will pay out dividends in your life.
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