Watch over your heart with all diligence,for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)
Once again we return to the topic of combating our feelings and looking at them from a biblical perspective. Why is this so important? First, because we live in a society that emphasizes living by your feelings. People make life altering decisions based on “a feeling” every day and often those feelings lead them right off a cliff. Secondly, women tend to be much more emotional and feeling oriented then men are. We have to understand where they come from and how to deal with our feelings biblically so we can honor and glorify God despite how we feel. Thirdly, generally speaking, our feelings are revealing our hearts to us.
This is important to understand for if you want to correct unhappy or sad feelings, you have to address your heart. For as much as I know about biblical counseling, when I apply this truth to myself I still don’t like it! I would much rather blame how I am feeling on someone else, take a circumstance in my life and say that “it” is the reason I am feeling sad, or angry or even depressed.
Biblically, most of the time our feelings and emotions are our responses to things that a sovereign God has brought into our lives. He allows hardship through financial reversal, He allows rebellious children who throw away all the truth that has been poured into them, He allows job loss, He allows our husbands to sin against us, He allows our bosses to treat us unkindly, and He allows our Country to be taken over by people we don’t approve of.
How we respond to these or any other things that take place in life reveals what we believe about God. Isn’t that amazing?! Next time you find yourself “in a mood” about something, try asking yourself questions like these:
- What do I want that I am not getting?
- What am I getting that I do not want?
- What perceived right of mine is being violated?
- Who or what are my thoughts focused on now?
- Have I pinned my hopes on something that I have been denied?
- What do I believe would make me happy?
Asking yourself questions will help you clarify what your thought patterns are, they will help you understand why you are feeling the way you are. The answers will help you to identify what is going on in the heart that are leading are to think, believe, and desire the way you are at that point in time. Once you know what you are thinking, and if it is in line with God’s Word or not, you can make a correction in the heart to respond rightly. When you can clarify what you believe to be the truth you can compare it against the truth of Scripture and see if is measures up to God’s unchangeable Word. When you can identify what you are desiring or worshiping in your heart you are able to determine if you are practicing some from of idolatry and once you know what it is you can rid yourself of it and return to worshiping God alone.
So many times women have told me what a huge change has been made by practicing this one aspect of counseling! Understanding what one thinks, believes, and desires in their heart is crucial and critical to true change of life.
Of course, there are certainly times when we are in the midst of tragedy and great loss that we can barely make sense of our thoughts or our feelings. They are too jumbled and we are in a daze of pain. For instance, I recall when my Mom passed on a few years ago I had a pile of feelings and emotions that I had no clue what to do with. I was happy she was with Jesus and devastated at my personal loss at the same time. I was relieved because she was not suffering and guilty for being glad about the burden of her care being gone at the same time. I was rejoicing and sorrowful. And I was also numb.
Some of you are facing tremendously difficult circumstances in your lives right now. Your emotions may threaten to sweep you away and you may find you have to work at this mind renewal a while. Sometimes you may have to set the active process aside and come back at a later time. I will never tell you this is an easy process, because it is not. It is a fight against the flesh that desires to wallow and sulk and ruminate.
Even the desire to wallow, sulk, and ruminate has to be examined! When I was in the refining fire I had to ask myself the reasons I wanted to share my sorrow with others. Sometimes it is because we want sympathy and because it feeds the flesh. You see, in our humanity our deceitful hearts take us places we don’t realize we want to go. This is why the Spirit of God must be leading the charge for change. Personally, apart from the Spirit of God revealing it to me I have a hard time discerning what is in my sinful heart because I lie even to myself! But God who sees and knows all- He is completely aware of all of the contents of the heart, and only He can help us to overcome.