Emotional Monarchy: 3 Steps to Prevent Emotions From Ruling Your Life

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

If you are familiar with me, you know I do deal with bouts of depression.  I don’t wear it as a badge to brag.  But I look at it as the opportunity for the strength of Christ to shine.  For his “power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I won’t remain silent about the hope and the healing I’ve discovered in Christ.  

It was a little more than a year ago, I shared my struggle in the post, “From the Heart of a Depressed Pastor.” To date, no other blog post has exceeded the thousands of hits and countless shares that article brought. It told me two things:

I am not alone in my struggle.  And neither are you.

After responding to a Facebook message about emotions last week, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts in a blog with an idea that, in some way, it may breathe hope.

Personally, I’m a uber emotional guy.  In other news, water is wet. 

I don’t mind it.  God created us as emotional beings. It seems that God as “blessed” certain people with more emotions than others.  But I don’t think there are those with more or less as if we all walk with varied levels of emotions (there’s some phd writing me an email right now about levels of emotion in humans) as if some have greater amounts than others.  I just think people steward them differently.  It’s all about how you handle them. Just in my non-phd opinion, bottling them up isn’t necessarily being a good steward of emotions just as much as letting them roam free and rule your life.  As I stated in a previous blog, we are to “honor God with (our) bodies.” We are stewards of what God gives us.  That includes our emotions.  

I understand feelings. Yet I cannot just write a “blank check” to them and let them have free reign. I have to see myself as a steward with the charge of managing who I am from the inside out.  Feelings/emotions are great but they cannot run our lives.  They must be brought into check.

We live in a society where feelings have become the foundation of truth in our culture.  It’s to the point where it seems like the worst think you can do to someone is “hurt their feelings.” In American culture, we think “truth is what I feel to be right.”  To some, this sounds like emotional salvation.  But really, it creates chaos.  If everyone, everywhere, acted upon EXACTLY what they were feeling all at the same time, it would be pandemonium. Disaster. Worse than a zombie apocalypse. 

I can’t count how many conversations I’ve had with people who are living in the misery of regret because, out of a “feeling”, they decided to do something and it produced consequences they never predicted.  In the moment, it “felt” right. But they quickly discovered that what felt correct wasn’t necessarily correct. 

How do you remedy this? How do you bring emotions into check?

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

3 Thoughts: 

FIRST, question your feelings. Psalm 42:5a, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?”

We should remember to, in a healthy way, to question emotions/feelings. If we are hateful at someone, we should step back to question those bitter feelings and challenge them. If we are envious toward someone, call those feelings into question. Personally, I’ve learned to question what I’m feeling and the thoughts that come in my head. I can’t imagine acting out of EVERYTHING that floats through my mind. I love that the writer of Psalms 42-43 questions what he’s feeling FIVE times. He knows himself.  He recognizes his emotion and where they want to take him. 

SECOND, wrestle with your feelings. Psalm 42:5b, “Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.”

Pray over your feelings, push through them, research what they’re desiring. Don’t just accept what they hand you. Talking it through with a pastor, mentor, or counselor is a great way to help “wrestle” though feelings. The reason why I love the Psalms, is the writer (usually David) wrestles between what he wants to do and what is the heart of God. “Fixing my eyes” isn’t easy when there’s a load of thought and emotions trying to drown you.  Wrestling is good. Workouts are good. They burn away what is unhealthy and build up what’s healthy. Keep pressing through despite what you “feel.”

THIRD, speak truth to your feelings. Psalm 42:5c, “Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again.”

This is so healthy because it’s bringing in something solid and foundational into the shifting sands of our mind and feelings. It’s healthy to confront our feelings with truth.  A simple example: If you want to take something that doesn’t belong to you, regardless of how you feel you deserve it, stealing is wrong. Confront it with truth. 

Think about this, Jesus on the night of his betrayal that led to the cross, out of his feelings, didn’t want to endure the crucifixion. But in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, he recognized that his feelings were not going to lead his life in the best and most blessed direction. He embraced truth. He embraced the plan of God despite the difficulty. I thank God he did.

Life isn’t easy and emotions don’t always help.  I love them, but they should not and cannot rule my life. The beauty of having a relationship with Christ, we don’t have to be alone.  He’s there in the valleys.  He’s there on the mountain. Just don’t let the worry and anxiety of what you don’t know about your situation replace what you do know about Jesus. Let his authority and grace help you steward your emotions. 

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

What I see on my right arm every day!
What I see on my right arm every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God. Psalm 42:5 (MSG)

3 comments

  • feelings and emotions make great servants but rotten masters.

    ( not sure when or where I learned this but I have taught it many times )

  • Thank you so much. I’m one of those who process emotions very badly. Sometimes I just think I’m nothing but a bag of emotions.
    I’ve had to look back with regret several times because of things I did out of emotions.
    Right now I’m in the middle of a battle where God is teaching me to discipline my emotions. I’m in a relationship where I’m spilling out emotion but the other party just seems to be a stone when it comes to that.
    It is teaching me to calm down. At first I used to shout, abuse, cry, complain… and you name it. But now I’m learning to cool down.
    This post is really for me. Thank you again.
    And I’m called to active service in God’s vineyard. You can understand the pruning process!

    • I totally understand where you’re at. It’s not the easiest thing to deal with but nevertheless it must be dealt with.

      Keep fighting the good fight.

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