Processing emotions with God

LAST week we established that we are all emotional beings. Benny Phillips, visiting pastor at Grace Family Church in St Catherine, thoughtfully pointed out that, "God cares about how you feel about things. God cares about how you experience things." Phillips also asserted that, "God is emotional." This week we continue with insights on how we can process our emotions with God for better well-being.

As we grow older we are often encouraged to "manage" (which oftentimes means deny) our emotions if they are deemed negative. Feelings such as anger, grief, hatred, and sadness, among others, fall into this category. But Phillips is encouraging us — men and women — to engage God with our emotions.

"The Psalms don't teach us to deny our feelings and, therefore, please God. We are encouraged to engage with God on whatever issues are going on in our lives."

Phillips invites us to check out Psalm 13, which is an emotional roller coaster of sorts, starting as an honest lament and slew of questions directed to God that culminates in a commitment to rejoice.

He points out that, "When we read Psalms like these, our temptation is to start at the end, [thinking] this is what God is after. And there is truth to that. Ultimately that is true but not at the expense of the process. His [God's] desire is for us to open the window of our soul and engage in the emotional struggle with him until we understand where our heart is on issues."

The Bible teacher reminds that God himself has feelings: "God feels anger, he feels jealousy, he feels joy, gladness, love. But he also feels hate, grief… he feels pleasure, he rejoices, he laughs, he dances, he weeps, he shouts. What do we learn about God from those feelings and emotions is what he values; what is important to him. And that should be important to us."

When we process our emotions with God, we, too, learn what we value, and in the safety of God's presence can find comfort, compassion, or correction. Either way, at the end of that honest emotional journey, we also find a closer walk with God, healing and more self-awareness.

In his presentation, Phillips also asked a poignant question: Are feelings reliable? "Yes, in that they reliably tell us what we actually believe and want. No, in that they are limited in our ability to interpret reality. But they are helpful if we rely on them to interpret what's going on in our hearts. Understanding our feelings is part of what it means to grow," Phillips concluded. It will also help us to better know ourselves and one another.

Indeed, processing our feelings doesn't only help us to grow but also enables us to develop greater emotional intelligence, which is critical in every sphere of life, whether you are a man or woman.

Passionate about faith and women empowerment, Shelly-Ann Mair-Harris has served on the board of women's rights organisations and is the author of several publications, including God's Woman and The Goodies on Her Tray. A woman of faith for several years, Shelly-Ann is the creator of Family and Faith Magazine and Women & Faith. She is also a podcaster, an award-winning playwright and poet as well as a trained and experienced media, marketing, change management and strategic communications professional.

Shelly-Ann MAIR-HARRIS

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