What are emotions? By nature, we look at emotions as a negative or a positive but rarely do we acknowledge they are designed by God for us to use for His glory. Interestingly enough the word emotion comes from the Latin root “movere,” which means to move or stir up. God gave us emotions to motivate and stir up the passion and inspiration in us to create. On the flip side, we can also be tricked and convinced (influenced?) by our emotions, provoking a false view of reality. We have to remember that emotions are an indicator, not a dictator. We want to be able to control our emotions, not the other way around. Our emotional health is part of our overall well-being.
Our heart and mind reveal our emotions, it is part of who we are, and navigating them can be complex. We can make wise and unwise choices based on our feelings. Oftentimes negative emotions are usually accompanied by an underlying root issue that needs to be identified and yanked out to maintain emotional health. For instance, when I get angry about something, I find there is usually some amount of fear behind it. I then ask myself what that fear is about and give it over to God to overcome it. Choosing how we recognize and respond to our emotions will help us grow deeper in our relationship with God and others.
In Numbers 14:1-3, the story of the Israelites shows us how the feelings of fear and defeat prevented them from ever seeing and experiencing the land of milk and honey. The Israelites allowed their emotions to control their actions; therefore, they never experienced the promised land. Only two men, Caleb and Joshua, succeeded because they relied on and trusted in God’s power over their emotions. In Numbers 13:30, Caleb stood before Moses and the people and said, “Let’s go at once to take the land, we can certainly conquer it!” In comparison Numbers 13:31-32 says, “But the other men who had explored the land disagreed. ‘We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!’ So they spread the bad report about the land among the Israelites.” One thing that stood out to me was the Israelites used the word “WE.” The Israelites had already chosen defeat relying on their ability and not God’s, ultimately ignoring that they could conquer the land through God’s power.
Not allowing our emotions to control our decisions is part of our everyday life. That’s why we need to know the character of God by reading His Word to transform our hearts and minds, so we can fill up with His spiritual truths. Second Corinthians 2:5 says, “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” When we are in the middle of receiving and responding to an emotion we have a choice to use self-control and take it to God, asking Him to fill us with wisdom, insight, and understanding. When we believe in what God can do over what our eyes see and what we may hear from others, we will be able to stay aligned with God’s will and make wise choices. As a result, we will experience the full blessing from obedience to God the way He intended it for us.
Sometimes we don’t understand why we are feeling a certain way. Emotions can be confusing, and since they stem from the heart, God warns us in Jeremiah 17:9, “That the heart can be deceitful.” But no matter whether we are experiencing good or bad emotions, God shows us that we should filter them through His scripture. When our spiritual foundation is strong and rooted in His Word, our emotional and physical health will align with it and be well.
Envision with me the healthy diet pyramid how the bottom of the triangle is mainly made up of bread and grains with the next levels containing vegetables, proteins, and fruits. I can’t help but think about how that correlates to God’s Word as our daily bread is the foundation we need to sustain ourselves every day. Many of us have that flipped upside down, with our emotional or physical as the foundation and God’s Truth as the side dish. In Matthew 6:33 it says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Put God first in your life and watch how He will give you what you need, including emotional and physical health.
Colossians 2:7 says, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and will overflow with thankfulness.” We must ground our lives in Him, and when they are our emotions will be much more inclined to gratitude. And when we are grateful, we will be joyful in Him for what we have received. God calls us to dwell on thoughts that are lovely, pure, true, and beautiful so when trials come our way we can continue walking in and building our faith.
Our emotions are signals indicating what our hearts are feeling in the moment. Negative emotions give us the chance for growth to handle life’s circumstances and a reason to ask God for help, drawing us closer to His heart to heal us. Positive emotions can overwhelm us with joy, enthusiasm, love, and a desire to worship. God designed everything about us. We were created to live on purpose and find hope in Him. Feelings of depletion, fatigue, discouragement, and a lack of motivation can get the best of us. When we struggle with negative and unwanted emotions, we are most likely experiencing a lack of spiritual health. Spiritual, physical, and emotional health are all connected. I have had plenty of moments where prayer and reading the Bible seemed plain and robotic, like I’m checking off an item on a to-do list. When this happens we tend to have emotional conflict, and our feelings seem more real than God’s truth. So how do we gain control over our emotions and align ourselves with what God wants for us?
5 Ways to Align Your Emotional Health to God’s Will
- Establish time with God. Investing in our relationship with God should not feel like a duty but rather essential for everything else to function healthily. Start with your location. Sometimes sitting in a different area helps to get out of a mundane routine. If I go outside or sit near a different window, it brings enough refreshment to energize me, and I get motivated for quiet time with Him. My God Stories: Everyday Prayers and Encounters Journal is an excellent devotional book to use.
- Open up your Bible to a passage that pertains to an emotion you’re currently experiencing. Using a Bible Concordance is highly recommended, as it helps locate different topics in the Bible and directs us to scriptures we can apply to our lives. I love how God has something to say about our emotions and how to align them with His truth. After all, He created them! Praying Through Every Emotion helps you experience God’s peace no matter what is happening in your life.
- Write you’re feeling in a journal. God wants us to use our emotions as a tool. How can this emotion help me discover what God wants to teach me? Emotions can let us know what we need more of. Here are some examples to ask yourself. Was there a certain situation that created the emotion? What is the emotion I am experiencing right now? Do I turn to food to deal with my feelings? If yes, the Healthy Living Journal will help. How does the reality of how I feel line up with scripture to encourage me? How can my response to this emotion be pleasing to God or glorify him?
- Recite God’s promises back to God and thank Him through prayer. If I’m feeling confused, frustrated, or hurt, I’ll speak His truth over my situation. God doesn’t need a reminder of what He says in His Word, but so many times we do. I think we all know that gratitude lifts our hearts by creating joy, and it’s an instant mood changer. When I was in my darkest season in life, I remember intently looking for things to be grateful for. It gave me feelings of contentment when my circumstances seemed so grim. The Secret to Health and Happiness: Gratitude Journal and Devotions will help you gain the emotional, spiritual, and physical balance we all need.
- Putting on worship music can help exchange a negative emotion with a positive one. It might be the last thing I think of doing, but God always seems to speak to me right where I’m at, bringing me to a more peaceful state. I have noticed my atmosphere has a significant impact on how I’m feeling, so changing it up by putting on some praise at home or in the car can help with whatever emotion I’m experiencing.
Learning to take our emotions to God and submit to Him will help us thrive in other areas of our lives. Letting God’s Word shape our lives will give us a stronger spirit that is led by Him and not our emotions. Emotional health is part of our overall well-being. Therefore, lining up our spiritual, physical, and emotional health promotes a happier and healthier life.
Jayme Elizabeth is a writer and host of the She Speaks Life Podcast. She has a passion for teaching and inspiring women to grow in God’s word. She values the authenticity of God Stories (testimonies) that help us know and develop deeper relationships with God. Over the past ten years, Jayme has been actively involved in women’s ministry leadership; she is a firm believer in linking arms with other women as God builds and transforms lives. She is now writing her first book about her life experiences and loves to create relationships through her podcast giving everyday women a voice to influence others. You can find Jayme at https://www.jaymeelizabeth.com/