Why We Need To Listen To Our Emotions (but not for the reasons you're thinking)

Search me O God, and know my heart.
-Psalm 139:23

I sat in front of a friend at my favorite sushi restaurant, when we landed on the topic of emotions. We were talking through wounds and hurts, when she blurted out, "Yes, but should I feel that way?"

It's a common thought, to try to categorize feelings into right or wrong, should or shouldn't. But by doing this, we're misusing the very purpose our emotions serve. 

As Christians, most of us have been taught to ignore our emotions because "our hearts are wicked and deceitful." We've become afraid of them, worried that they will lead us astray--and they will if we use them the wrong way, but they are not obsolete. They serve an important purpose, and they don't go away until they are felt and processed. Without this step, we only have a few options--numb, or act out.

We can numb in many ways--through substance abuse, food, workaholism, or even religion. The problem is, if we can't feel our emotions and follow them to the places that need healing, we won't get healed. We can't give God something we refuse to acknowledge.

And if numbing doesn't work, we will act our emotions out. We can only stuff so long before our emotions end up coming out sideways in destructive and abusive ways to ourselves and others.

When we step on our ankle the wrong way, our body sends signals through our nervous system that register pain to warn us. 

Our emotions do the same for our heart. They tell us the truth about what we believe and where we are sick.

Emotions are the roadmap to our hearts that tell us where we need more Jesus, and without them we are hopelessly lost. Without a compass to tell us where we are wounded, we are forced to simply cope.

So instead of asking "should I feel this way," let's start asking "why?" Because it's only in acknowledging and feeling our pain, that we can then invite God in to heal it.


Do you have trouble feeling your emotions? Here are five tips on how to start:
  1. Find a safe place to process. We weren't meant to do life alone. Find a Pastor, Minister, Christian Counselor, or mentor who can help you ask the hard questions. Proverbs 27:17
  2. Ask why. Maybe you grew up in a home where you weren't allowed to feel, or maybe your church preached that emotions were evil. Maybe you numbed because you experienced some really hurtful things and it's been too painful to confront. Finding the roadblocks and lies we've believed can help you open up and invite God into the hard places. Psalm 43:5
  3. Hear God. Instead of spending time talking in prayer, ask God to speak. Practice hearing Him. Keep the questions open ended and practice listening and being still.  Romans 10:17
  4. Journal. Spend five minutes every day writing. Don't worry about grammar or syntax, just write whatever is in your head. You might be surprised what comes out! Psalms 88
  5. Get in safe community. The church I go to offers many process groups centered around different issues such as codependency and abuse. We were wounded in community, and we need safe community to heal. John 13:35
Resources for help:
  • Freedom Ministry- freedom.gatewaypeople.com
  • Mending The Soul - mendingthesoul.org
  • Association of Christian Counselors, http://www.aacc.net/ 
  • Safe People by Henry Cloud
  • How To Stop The Pain by James Richards
  • Truly Free by Pastor Robert Morris


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