Hey there, friend! Welcome to my new blog series about myths you might believe about emotions and viewing emotions biblically! The topic of emotions is a lot to cover, so please be patient with me. I cannot say everything there is to say about emotions and I am still learning so much. If you have comments or questions, I welcome conversation! Get in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, my contact page, or directly on this post and I will do my best to get back to you. Thank you for reading!
Me and emotions have never gotten along very well.
I’m naturally a person of extremes, so finding a healthy view of my emotions was difficult when I was constantly waffling between giving my emotions way too much or far too little attention.
Over the past few months, I have been reflecting a lot about emotions and emotional health. I’ve grown in so many ways and relearned some painful lessons about the role of emotions in the Christian life.
As I started my journey towards emotional equilibrium, I began to notice some myths about emotions that I had been telling myself for quite some time. These myths have been detrimental to my mental health. My negative relationship with my emotions resulted in negative habitual responses to my feelings. Instead of using my emotions as a springboard towards health and healing, my growth was stunted by my incorrect views.
Replacing these harmful myths with healthier, realistic, biblical views of my emotions continues to be a process for me, but the process is 100% worth it. As emotional beings created in the image of a holy creator God, we are called to be stewards of ourselves, which includes our feelings and emotions.
Over the next few weeks, I will be addressing some of these myths here on my blog. I want to share the myths that I have noticed creeping into my life, along the truth that gets me back on the road to emotional health.
Negative emotions are always a bad thing.
This myth has unquestionably been the most damaging to me personally. I have always struggled with pressure to appear as a put-together Christian. I know that I am not alone in that prideful, painful cycle.
A combination of the general stigma around mental health issues, my own pride, and real and imagined expectations from the church led me to believe that negative emotions are always to be viewed as negative things.
Maybe some of you can relate to this too.
I was quick to judge the spiritual health of myself and others by the state our emotions. I subconsciously learned to equate sadness, depression, grief, anxiety, and similar emotions with spiritual problems. I have personally seen this response in many other believers as well. I have heard so many conversations about negative emotions be shut down with the words “if you would just have more faith, then this wouldn’t be a problem”.
The depressed and anxious are viewed as problems to be fixed. The sad should be happy. The empty must be full. Christians armed with the promises of hope are strangling the process of grief.
This is so saddening to me, because the Bible so clearly presents something totally different to us!
The Bible is literally filled with examples of lament, grief, and other emotional responses to intense suffering, emotional and physical pain, depression, and loneliness.
I have yet to find passages that look down on people for expressing their negative emotions. In fact, the Scriptures are filled with beautiful examples of strong Christians expressing their negative emotions in healthy, god-honoring ways.
One such example is Job.
Job was a man who lost everything… his livelihood, his family, his health, and his home. Job was in agony, and understandably so. The text tells us that he tore his clothes and shaved his head because of his grief. Job expressed his emotional response to his losses in a way that was appropriate to his situation and yet he still brought glory to God. The text even says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22 ESV).
The negative emotions that we are so quick to avoid and cover up as 21st century Christians are actually opportunities to glorify God.
Negative emotions are meant to be felt and processed, and we have strong biblical examples of how to do that. Negative emotions can sometimes even act as a catalyst in our brains for processing pain (both physical and emotional)and beginning to heal. Squelching these emotions with speeches about having more faith is not the answer we need.
We need to be comfortable with feeling again.
Instead of viewing depression and anxiety and other negative emotional health needs in the church as problems to be fixed, we should see these hardships as opportunities to glorify God and praise Him for His faithfulness.
We should come alongside each other with love, support, and truth as we learn to be comfortable with all of our emotions again.