Emotions: Friend or Foe?

“Emotions make you cry Sometimes” as sung by 90’s R & B Group, H-Town once said. Our emotions can sometimes take on a life of their own. Emotions are instinctive and intuitive feelings an individual possesses usually determined my one’s circumstances, mood or relationships with other people. Emotions were given to humans by God for the purpose of connecting with the world around us.  Unfortunately, unprincipled living and habitual disobedience to God causes our emotions to be out of control, unaligned from their original purposes.

Unaligned Emotions

For a long time, we’ve been told that Emotions are all bad, and you probably have been told to “Get out of your feelings” a time or two (I sure have). But, emotions in and of themselves are not the problem. Unaligned emotions are! 

Unaligned emotions are untrained and uncontrolled. Feelings that are not filtered by truth are deceptive and destructive. They are not only bad, but they are untrustworthy.

Christ was always meant to be the center of our emotions.  However, when we become unaligned, we will put ourselves at the center of our emotions. We make everything about ourselves. We become overly concerned about what we want, and how we want it, even if it causes detriment to others.  

Scripture teaches us “to walk by the Spirit and you will not carryout the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.” See Galatians 5:16-17.

We Are Emotional Beings

We are creatures of feeling. Our feelings make us more empathetic. Sadly, many have discredited feelings and emotions altogether. Feelings have now become synonymous with weakness, when in fact healthy emotions are a sign of character strength. Truly, our emotions are a gift from God meant to be tools of enrichment. They also help us to connect with those who are hurting, as well as enable us to celebrate with those who are happy. Emotions are meant to be connectors. More importantly, emotions are meant to connect us to GOD, our Creator. Our emotions can either hinder or progress us in our worship of God.

 The more broken we are, the humbler we become. And, the humbler we are, the more grace we receive. God is always seeking those who are poor in spirit, and lowly of heart to do his will. The Spirit of God is more able to flow through us when we have a greater affection for him, and for people. After all, affection is a gentle feelingof fondness or liking according to the Oxford dictionary.

Have you ever noticed you will go out of your way to help the people you love, and care about? Don’t you love to see a smile on the face of someone you helped, who was in dire need of assistance. Well, it’s the same way when you have a genuine affection for Christ. You want him to delight in you, because you love him. You want to do things he asked of you, because you love him. Well, at least that’s how I FEEL about him.

Feelings are apart of the human experience, and when cultivated and expressed properly our love for our neighbors increase. It’s hard to intentionally harm someone you genuinely love, or at least it should be. I think we can all agree the world could use a lot more empathy. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Realigning Your Emotions

As stated earlier, emotions are a gift from GOD. We are absolutely supposed to be concerned about how our actions affect others. We all have a duty to cultivate our own emotional identities, so that we are more emotionally, and spiritually mature. We are to move from the elementary things of God, to the “meatier” matters of the Kingdom. I’m convinced God is annoyed every time someone uses “That’s just the way God made me” to excuse their bad behaviors. God requires that we pursue knowledge and gain understanding. He requires that we grow, and move from glory to glory, from strength to strength.

A key element in realigning your emotions is to become aware and versed in understanding what triggers certain emotions in you and developing a plan of action (as well as praying, prayer is fundamental). You should also know the works of the flesh, which include:

  • Sexual Immorality                    
  • Moral Impurity 
  • Promiscuity
  • Idolatry
  • Dissensions and Factions
  • Envy and Jealousy
  • Strife & Outbursts of Anger
  • Selfish Ambition
  • Drunkenness

If you find yourself engaging in the above continuously and recklessly, then these are good indicators, that your emotional health may be out of alignment. Personally, speaking I found that inner care, and therapy also helped to pinpoint the root causes of many of my destructive patterns.

All I know is we all were created to experience all the abundance life has to offer. But unaligned and stifled emotions block us from truly experiencing the goodness of Christ and keeps us from sharing in his riches.  These riches include:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faith
  • Gentleness

Emotions with Christ at the center produce Good Fruit! In his presence, there is Liberty, and Fullness of Joy!

“Emotions make you cry sometimes, and they’ll make you fall in love.” H-Town

Authenticity: Take the Filters Off

Almost, every image-centric platform such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook lets their users post filtered photos. Millions of new images are updated daily, and these sites let users filter, edit, and crop out any undesirable aspects of themselves. Interestingly, it usually takes about 4 to 6 selfies, before a person usually decides to upload the one photo deemed to be upload worthy.

Unfortunately, this constant, secret visual manipulation creates an unrealistic portrait to onlookers of what other people and their lives look like. Consequently, this fixation on what we look like has led to decreased self-esteem, and increased anxiety. Now, there are studies being conducted to gain insights into just how much these unrealistic portraits are contributing to a mental health crisis.

Sadly, there are many people whose identities and self-worth are attached to the number of likes, and thumbs they receive underneath their photos. Unfortunately, those same people are left disillusioned by the social media world. And increasingly, as a society we are more concerned with creating the right illusion, that we are forgetting how to create meaningful real-life experiences.

So, it’s no wonder this disillusionment has spilled over into
the dating world……

Dating, whether meeting a person online or organically requires the dater to assume a level of risk.  So, when we decide to take on the daunting task of getting to know someone, we naturally and instinctively will put our “best foot” forward. Our desires to make a good impression intensifies as we inwardly ask, “Could this be the one?”

As a result, we often will withhold certain aspects of our lives and personalities from our prospective beaus. This is a completely normal and acceptable act. After all, you shouldn’t “expose your hand” up front. Especially, since the first date may be too early to know where the relationship is heading.

However, the problem arises when you are six months to one year into the relationship, and you still have not shown your true self to your beau.  This is what I call the “Filter Dating Syndrome.”

Filter Dating Syndrome

The truth is, falling in love, is scary!  Unfortunately, many people use filters in dating. We hide our true selves to make ourselves seem more attractive. We inherently believe that if another person knew all about our imperfections, then they couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to love us. This is caused by having a low self-efficacy. It means that the way we see our true selves is so low, that even if another person were to see your true value, you would distrust that individual.

On the other hand, there are those who are so afraid of being hurt, that they have imprisoned themselves behind a wall of hardheartedness. These people pretend not to care and keep people at a distance. This too is a filter.

Sadly, the root cause of our inferiority complex runs so deep, that it goes unrecognizable even to ourselves. So, we wear masks to hide behind, we put on the rainbow, flower filters, and just smile for the camera. All the while, we’re crying on in the inside and repelling the one thing we truly desire……. Authentic Love.

“We long to share our best selves with the person who would be trustworthy of receiving our best.” Shawn Bolz

 Authentic love requires vulnerability. Vulnerability is defined as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. No one likes to be vulnerable. No one wants to be in a position where they must give someone else the power to hurt them. Yet, until we do so, we will not receive the deep, satisfying love our heart desires, and that Our Heavenly Father desires for us to have.

Three Ways to be YOU!

  1. Guard your Hearts

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 4:23, “above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” What we think, feel and believe about ourselves impacts our behavior. Take time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on identifying the toxic, root cause of your faulty thinking. Seeking help from a Professional Counselor will aid in restoring a healthy self-concept.

  • Start Where You Are

According to Psalm 139: 14, You are fearfully and wonderfully made, so praise God!  Your journey is a God filled journey, and who you are right now, as you read this is so full of value. You are worthy, you are ENOUGH! The person who is meant to love you will celebrate your achievements and your failures, because it made you the person you are today.

  • Practice Being Vulnerable

I love Lamentations 3:40, which says “Let us examine our ways and test them and let us return to the Lord.” Ask yourself, how did you get to this point. Practicing vulnerability simply means, to be honest.  You only need just one person within your sphere of influence with whom you can be comfortable with sharing your story. Tell them your fears, your hopes and dreams. There is so much safety in the multitude of counsel and sharing our thoughts with people helps to provide a fresh perspective. Also, it forces us to consider points of views we may not have considered on our own.

Pouring out our grievances help to strengthen our inner worlds, so we can see God in the outside world.  If you don’t have people surrounding you that you can trust, then I pray the Holy Spirit aligns you with empathetic, and trustworthy people who can listen without prejudice.

In closing, I just want all of you to know that who you really are is worth loving. So, be free in the Lord’s presence.

Be free to show them who you really are. Take the filters off!

My face when I’m trying to see the Real YOU!