SPOTLIGHT - please show me my feelings
About the Spotlight Writer
Hello! I'm Amber Sheffield and I am about to start my last year at the greatest school – Baylor University. I am hoping to apply to grad school, but I am unsure where God is calling me right now. I love all things Jesus, music, coffee, youth ministry, and missions. I am from Houston, have two dogs (Mandy and Hazel), and a big tabby cat (Toby). Aside from snuggling them, I enjoy baking, hanging with friends & family, and taking pictures. I love meeting new people and hearing your stories, so feel free to reach out to me!
I do not know about you all, but I come from a family where showing our emotions was seen as taboo. Growing up, I was taught that if you felt a certain emotion, or had a certain feeling, to not express it, but shove it down instead – never touching it. I did not know any better, as all of my loved ones around me continued to suppress their own emotions, never really getting in touch with how they were feeling. Little did I know that this suppression was detrimental to my faith, as it negatively affected my relationship with myself, others, and mostly, God. It was not until recently did God reveal to me that my emotions, and all of them, are there for a reason. I needed to fully experience my emotions – joy, anger, happiness, etc. – to fully experience God.
To come to terms with this new reality, I had to firstly acknowledge what I was even feeling emotionally, as I have been all over the emotion spectrum since I have been in college. My emotions can sometimes feel like rip currents where I am floating in the sea of happiness and suddenly I get caught up in a current of anxiety, anger, or even sadness. One moment I feel fine and the next I can be overwhelmed by anger, jealousy, bitterness, or just plainly upset. I often get pulled into confusion within the current of emotion, because I have a hard time understanding why my emotions are there in the first place.
“Is it my hormones?”
“Am I tired?”
“Is the Devil attacking me?”
“Is this a reflection of how far away from God I am?”
These questions come so fast and I tend to worry if my current of emotions may be me sinning in some way. We can’t figure out why we feel (or don’t feel) the way we do or what God wants us to do with our feelings – so confusion leads to condemnation.
Whenever I was going through a hard valley in my personal life, or even facing a spiritual battle, I buried my unhappy emotions and kept a tight lid on them. This was never a healthy thing for me, because I always exploded these same emotions out all at once and in an unhealthy way. My bad feelings led to hasty reactions and poor decisions on my end – which only brought on more bad feelings of frustration, failure, shame, and regret. I made a mess of things because I felt bad, and then I felt bad because I made a mess of things.
However, God has been revealing so many things to me lately in regards to my struggle with my emotions. Firstly, I am not alone. We all share in a community of struggle with our emotions. We find comfort in connecting with people who “get” us, and who feel the same way we do.
Secondly, one thing that God pointed out to me in regards to my struggle with emotions, was that I never turned to him or even opened my Bible when I felt an emotional pull – good or bad. I often turned to music, eating, reading – things that are not necessarily bad, but things that are not God Himself who can help me the most with my struggles. I think one of the reasons why I never turned to God first was because I felt that God would condemn me for my messy emotions, so I’d hold off until I felt better. Also, I assumed that God only cares about what I did, not how I felt. But the exact opposite is true!! God cares about our feelings – way more than we realize!! In fact, God gives us the Bible and tells us how to handle our emotions. Scripture is not a dry, dull book; it is heavy with emotion and full of emotional stories. It speaks to feelings and it speaks with feeling.
Sadly, as Christians in a fallen world, we get mixed messages and contradictory advice about our feelings. Some of these messages that I vividly remember from growing up included:
“Just ignore your emotions completely” to “you really need to work hard on changing your emotions.”
The myths and misconceptions that cause much of our emotional confusion also lead to bad methods for handling our emotions. This was a big a thing for me, as it stunted my spiritual growth! I’ve learned through my own process of healing and growing that we must return to what the Bible has to say about our emotions if we want to grow in godliness.
When we take another look at what Scripture teaches, we will unearth some wonderful truths about our feelings. We can change the way we feel, people!! Scripture shows us that emotions are not unreliable, but are one of the most reliable things about us. Emotions are not a hindrance to wise decision making, but are central to the Christian life. Feelings are not bad, but play a good and useful role in God’s will and plan for our lives. What’s even cooler is that when we read Scripture, it actually lead us to have true feelings.
So, whatever you are struggling with emotionally, whatever you are going through right now that may be hindering your expression of what you are truly feeling, or whatever you are afraid of expressing emotionally, know that you can find help and hope in the Bible. There is hope for everyone!
Romans 15:4 says: “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
Scripture’s encouragement does not get rid of all of our unpleasant emotions, but it shows us that God has a purpose for our feelings – the good and the bad. Most of all, it proclaims the good news of the Gospel. (Titus 2:11 – “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people). If God gave His Son for our sins, how much more will he help us to deal with the problem of our feelings!
When we lose heart, when we feel helpless to change our emotions, we must remember this Gospel. God will not leave us to drown in our emotional rip currents. There is no feeling in our lives too strong from which He can’t save us from. There is no person that has drifted too far away tat He can’t reach.