Several years ago, I attended a seminar on controlling your emotions. When the lecture began, a middle-aged woman stood in front of the room with her hands on her hips. Then, in a stern but gentle voice, she said, “I Don’t Feel Like It!” and with that, she spoke about her journey to conceive children and what Hormone Therapy had done to her body.
The woman continued to speak of how hormones set her on an emotional roller coaster, which nearly destroyed her marriage, her friendships, and her relationship with God. “I didn’t feel like doing anything. I was so miserable,” the speaker said. “I even thought of committing suicide. But one day, I cried out to the Lord and begged for help.” The woman had us mesmerized as she explained how she chose to live outside of unreliable emotions, and instead live for God.
Choosing to live outside of your emotions is a brave task, and it’s not for the fainthearted. Even so, female hormones aren’t always the instigator of bad moods. Each of us has feelings that take over our lives and allow us to act unloving towards those around us. In 2010, Mars Inc., the makers of Snickers candy bars, launched a commercial ad campaign called, “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry.” The TV ads showed how people—who haven’t eaten, can turn into frail Betty White, mean Danny Trejo, killer Godzilla, and even a nasty gremlin until they take a single bite from a candy bar. Within seconds, the once monstrous person returns to their pleasant, agreeable self.
One bite of a candy bar and all is well in the world again? If it were only that easy.
Have you ever wondered why God placed verses in the Psalms that describe emotional turmoil? (e.g., Psalms 77:4 that says, “You have held my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.” Psalm 42:3, which says, “My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, ‘Where is thy God?’” Song 6:6 also says, “I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.”) It is because emotions are a gift from God—and He wants to use them to draw you closer to Him.
God does not sit back and watch us cry. He doesn’t pat his foot and roll His eyes, and God doesn’t think, “Just get over it.” No, He created tears and understands our bad moods, irritations, and annoyance with bothersome people. I’m not saying God condones wrong/sinful behaviors, but He knows how to remedy our outbursts.
In a way, we can say that emotions serve as God’s chisel that skims off the gunk on our hearts that make us most unlike Christ. For example, guilt can lead us to seek God for repentance. Loss can direct us to draw near to Him for comfort. Illness can guide us to God as our Great Physician and ask for healing, and confusion can make us seek Him for wisdom.
What is astonishing is that when we bring our heartfelt turmoil to God, we are like Christ. In their book, Untangling Emotions, J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith, says, “The cries that [Jesus] echoed through the trees to his disciples that night were the stuff of pure relationship and profound trust. The earnest tears of Gethsemane are the signature proof that our emotions, no matter how dark, are to be a door braced open between our innermost hearts and our Father’s throne room. If Jesus brought to his Father His desperate sorrow and urgent desire for a way out, how can we not also bring to our Father our muddled loves and the mixed feelings they produce?”
Going forward, choose to seek God when your feelings tempt you to act contrary to your conscience. And, then give it all to God, without hesitation. He already knows what is in your heart. He just wants you to tell Him how you’re feeling and use those moods to build a deeper relationship with you.
Psalm 72:12-13 says, “For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper. He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save.”