Updated: 5 days ago
Things in this world are changing rapidly and as Christians, we need to be as healthy as possible so we can withstand the fiery darts of the enemy. We can't be saddled with emotional baggage that weighs us down and keeps us distracted. Healthy emotions are closely linked with healthy bodies, and they matter.
I've worked hard for most of my adult life to become emotionally healthy, seeking an answer for my struggles with undiagnosed ADHD. I think I would've understood myself better if I'd been diagnosed when I was younger, but not knowing forced me to seek help in many areas until the mystery was finally solved. Emotions can be tricky, but hopefully the information I'm sharing today will help someone else learn to process them well. I pray you'll be set free from the problems that can come when we don't deal with our emotions well.
When I was in my early 20s, I remember thinking that if I started crying, I might never stop. I hate "the cry hangover." I decided I was tough and wasn't going to cry any more. I couldn't imagine anything negative could come from controlling my emotions. Believing my mind and body were entirely separate, I held it all inside. It didn't occur to me that the random aches and pains I often got, headaches, and extreme stomach distress could have anything to do with how I handled my emotions.
It wasn't until I started seeing a natural health practitioner that I learned about the connection between our minds and bodies. I learned that physical illness is often directly tied to emotional distress. I learned that when you acknowledge your emotions, express them, and process through them, you can be set free from tension, unhealthy forms of anger, physical illness, and unexplained aches and pains. Your mind and body are not separate. If you allow one tear to fall, it doesn't mean you'll never stop crying. (I promise.) Facing your emotions is brave and holy work. Once you let it out, it loses the ability to control you. Emotions matter to our physical health.
Emotions are natural. If you deny or ignore them, they'll likely come out in anger. That's why some people explode. They've been holding in strong emotions for so long that their bodies can't handle it for another second, so it erupts like a volcano. If that's you, you might not really be an angry person. You might be very sad, disappointed, hurt, or frustrated. The bottleneck of those emotions escapes in a way that doesn't feel as vulnerable to you as tears - anger.
Unexpressed emotions can come out as sickness in your body. The way our bodies are connected to our emotions is incredible. The next time your throat starts to close up or your get laryngitis, ask yourself if there's something you need to say that you haven't felt like you can express. The next time your stomach is in knots, ask yourself if there's something going on that it might be appropriate to say the common phrase, "It just makes me sick!" You know that phrase, "You're a pain in the butt!"? Well... Could that explain your lower back pain?
Give yourself the freedom to express it out loud, even if it's just while you sit alone in your car, and see what happens in your body. Yes, it's going to be uncomfortable while you're letting it out. But instead of a week of being unable to speak, it might be gone in a few hours. Instead of constant stomach aches, your stomach can be settled.
Acknowledging your emotions - noticing, allowing the response you have to them - does not make you out-of-control or messy. It makes you healthy. It can relieve insomnia and a twitching eye. It can ease explosions of anger. If you're struggling in this area, it's very helpful to talk to a counselor if you don't have anyone else in your life you trust to hear how you feel. Their whole job is to listen and not judge you.
Remember that your words have power. If something is really upsetting you and you have absolutely no control over the situation, try saying (probably through gritted teeth), "I'm okay with this situation (describe it out loud)." I know, it's a total lie. That's okay. Say it again. "I'm okay with this situation." Repeat it, as hard as it is to say, until the statement loses it's sting. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
After a few minutes or so, it will start to become true. As you're able to say the words without feeling like you're going to throw up, begin to pray for God to give you His heart toward the situation. I've repeatedly experienced this method work. It's HARD to do, but it will give you the freedom you need from the storm raging inside you. You'll receive God's heart when you think about it, and He'll tell you how to pray.
One of the most difficult emotional battles I ever faced was won through this process. I can tell you exactly where I was as I drove around that day repeating those stupid words out loud. "I'm okay with (that thing I totally wasn't okay with)." I can tell you exactly what building my car was in front of when I realized that the sting had gone out of the words and they'd started to become true. I can tell you where my car was when I began to pray good things over the people in that situation. A situation that was wrong, unfair, and full of betrayal no longer holds an ounce of power over me. It has become 100% true - I am okay with it. I can even pray blessings over them, although I do confess to also praying that I never have to be in the same room with them again.
Jesus wept (John 11:35), rejoiced (John 10:21), got angry (John 21:12-13), expressed great affection (John 19:25-27), felt compassion (Matthew 9:36), expressed frustration (Matthew 16:5-12), and felt afraid (Luke 22:44). Emotions matter so much that the Bible gives full expression to them.
You can fully express your emotions too.
It's especially important as we head into the difficult days that may be coming. When I write that Jesus is coming back soon, we need to understand that Christians may go through persecution and have to find ways to hold fast to their love for the Lord. If we aren't raptured before it begins, we're going to need every tool at our disposal to make it through. We don't have time to deal with emotional sickness when we're under pressure to get the mark of the beast. Our financial systems could all change tomorrow and we might not be able to buy food, go to the hospital, travel, get prescription medication, or to do anything that requires money. We've got to get ourselves as healthy as possible.
God has been showing me that the time is short. We need to get serious about things we've allowed to fester for too long. Whatever it takes, get your emotions in a healthy place. Emotions matter.
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