By Julie Ganshow
In the 1970’s there was a very sappy song entitled “Feelings” sung by some sappy guy who moaned his way through his song while he was trying to forget his feelings of love.
In this article we are going to take a brief look at feelings and emotions and where they come from. Our society has become almost completely feeling oriented and I think this is very bad. The students in our counseling classes have heard me say that it seems that we have lost the ability to think, and reason.
It is rare to find someone who is willing to risk sticking their neck out for a belief or a thought. Feelings apparently exist on sacred ground for few dare to challenge how a person feels.
Feelings and emotions are the physical expressions of our thought life. They are the body’s response to thoughts that either please or displease us. The reality is, we experience billions of thoughts each day, and often our thoughts provoke emotional responses that relate to what we call happiness, hope, well-being or sorrow, despair, fear, or anger.
Feelings and emotions are chemical reactions in the body brought on by thoughts in the inner man which the Bible calls the heart. The heart is the “control center” of each person, and Scripture has a lot to say about this critical part of us. (If you check out Scripture you will find over 500 references to the heart!) Generally speaking, our feelings reveal our hearts to us. This is an important point, for if you want to correct unhappy or bad feelings; you have to go for the heart and deal with the issues that lead you to feel bad or unhappy.
Asking questions is a huge aid in revealing the motives of the heart; answers to questions help to reveal why a person is feeling the way they do. Be aware that when you experience feelings particularly strong or problematic you must do some self-examination and determine what the cause is.
For example, if a person who is frequently sinfully angry could be asked some specific questions such as:
- What do you want that you are not getting?
- What are you getting that you don’t want?
- What perceived right is being violated?
You see, your emotions reveal your heart, which is the storehouse of your faith and all that your faith is comprised of. Emotions also reveal your faith, and the voracity of your core beliefs.
Do you want to know what you believe? Try this quick little exercise; take a few minutes to think about the emotion you tend to experience or struggle with most often (anger, sorrow, self-pity, fear, anxiety, joy, contentment) ; then spent some time asking yourself what this emotion tells you what you believe about:
- Your place in this world
- His plan for your life
- What is really important
An exercise such as this one can go a long way to helping a person see aspects of their heart that they had not recognized before! Once a person knows what is going on in their thoughts (heart) they can apply correct theology to their wrong thinking.
This is really just scratching the surface of this very important subject!
I always encourage a person to seek wise counsel and accountability when heart change is needed or desired. Find someone who will help you to pin down the sinful attitudes of the heart and look at them biblically. They should also be able to help you to apply God’s Word to your life and walk with you as you ask the Lord to help you to understand what you are doing, and how you can overcome sinful responses.
Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We focus heavily in our counseling ministry on renewing the mind because that is where true and lasting change takes place. The word of God is the only tool we have to affect this kind of change.
The Spirit of God and the Word of God applied to the heart of a person; applied to their thoughts, beliefs and desires of the heart will help get problematic emotions in submission to the Holy Spirit.
Julie is a certified Biblical Counselor and the head of Reigning Grace Counseling Center.