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“Don’t Trust Your Feelings” – Emotions and the Christian Highly Sensitive Person

February 21, 2010

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“Don’t trust your feelings.” I bet you’ve been told that once or twice. And it’s a useful bit of advice. At least up to a point.

Such as when we’re dealing with the feelings that send us on the roller-coaster ride of emotional instability. Understanding that our feelings of the moment do not necessarily represent truth for our lives allows us to better navigate our emotional responses.

Neither our highs nor our lows properly interpret the reality of any given situation. That surge of energy we might feel in a new project or relationship is not a herald of it’s rightness in our lives. And feelings of bottomed-out discouragement are not a message from our hearts saying, “Bail because it’s all for naught.”

Feelings and Deeper Reality

Just imagine the emotional chaos that must have been winging around in the hearts of Jesus’ disciples after His crucifixion but before His resurrection. They must have been experiencing a great deal of emotional distress.

But even in the midst of their distress was the truth which they did not comprehend: that they were living through the long-planned strategic sacrifice that brought God’s promised gift of grace into the world.1 Even though their feelings didn’t discern this at the time. (And neither did their understanding.)

Emotions Enrich Life

While we may not be able to trust our feelings (or our minds) to accurately interpret our circumstances, it is impoverishing if we take this mistrust too far.

If the highly sensitive person distances from his or her emotions, this can deprive life of much beauty, depth, and meaning.

King David As a Role Model

King David modeled the life of an emotional man devoted to God. I won’t speculate about his level of sensitivity because such conjecture of a man from antiquity is meaningless, but we can clearly see the strong emotions he poured out into his poetry and song as recorded in the ancient scriptures.

What so distinguished David was that he took a broad spectrum of emotion straight into his relationship with God. He was emotionally expressive with God, and his emotions showed in tears, shouting, singing, and even intense dancing.2

He didn’t try to contain his emotions; he poured them out before God. He expressed his whole heart to God freely, over and over declaring that he was putting his trust in and taking refuge in YHWH.3

From God he sought answer for his despair. From God he sought deliverance from many life-and-death situations. In God he strengthened himself in difficult times.4 And with and to God he shared his joy and his expressive rejoicing.

As he shared his heart with God, God shared His own heart back. God is quoted as saying that David was “a man after My own heart”.5

Sharing Your Emotional Life with God

If God created you with emotion, you might want to consider sowing those feelings into emotional relationship with God. And expressing those feelings freely in worship of Him. You might even become a person after God’s own heart like David was.

Blessings!
Gail Ruth

1 Romans 5:9-19
2 Psalm 6:8, I Chronicles 13:8, 2 Samuel 6:14-15, 2 Samuel 6:14
3 From Psalm 25:20. Strong’s Concordance indicates that this phrase can be translated “I put my trust in you” or “I take refuge in you”.
YHWH: God told His name to Moses, and Moses recorded God’s name in scripture. But the ancient Hebrew writing consisted only of consonants and so without the vowels we don’t know for certain what God’s name sounds like. YHWH is the English transliterations of those four consonants in the name of God. In the Old Testament, English translations traditionally replace this with a generic word – “LORD” (in all capital letters). My personal preference when quoting scripture is to revert to the transliteration of the actual name of God as recorded in the original Hebrew text rather than replacing it with a substitute word.
4 I Samuel 30:6
5 I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sharon February 27, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Emotions have been mysterious to me many times in life. The tidal wave of intensity with some emotions I’m having lately is un-nerving at the least and a relief at the best. I’m just trying not to deny my humanity anymore.
So the life adventure continues.:)

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2 Gail Ruth April 30, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I use Thesis Theme for WordPress. After a long and frustrating search for a malleable theme, I happily found this one. I am grateful for it, and have become an affiliate for it.

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3 Robert May 17, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Interesting disscussion post. I consider myself to be a highly sensitive person. Im not a Christian but I do pray to Jesus every now and then. My point is that when I deny myself of others for example I feel a loss. Sometimes a strong sense of intense lonliness. But I dont think I think the worst because of it. And not everyone does.

Peace, Goodwill, and Applesauce.
Robert

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4 Gail Ruth May 27, 2010 at 12:59 am

Blessings, Robert. May Jesus bless you deeply. He loves to hang with you, you know, and loves it when you talk with Him. Thanks for the blessing of peace, goodwill, and the applesauce. Applesauce is good ;-)
Gail

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5 Robert May 17, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Great Videos!!!

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6 Springtime July 18, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Though my parents themselves didn’t teach this, the church I grew up in held the expression of much emotion highly suspect- a sign of spiritual immaturity or downright heresy. As a highly emotional and sensitive person, this disturbed me, but I felt that somehow it was disprespectful to the leadership of the church and possibly God Himself to question this. Deep down in my heart, I knew there was something better, but it was always in conflict with what I was taught a mature Christian should be like. After some very painful life experiences, I came to a point where I had it with feelings and the trauma they produced in my life and I just went numb and into survival mode. I was miserable. Jesus is bringing me through that, and has broken through the hardness of my heart . I can feel again. I realize that emotions can get out of control, and we should not allow them to control us, but neither should we try to stifle what God has created within us as a good thing.

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7 Rob December 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I really like your site and plan to come back when I have time to dig in deeper. I am a Christian and consider myself to be highly sensitive. When I was a young man, I thought my depression was a sign that God was displeased with me. I am learning to dismiss this idea. Thanks for the great article.

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8 Gail Ruth December 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Hi Rob. The reality is that if you would care at all if God was displeased with you, He isn’t. You can completely fail and mess up, you can live in a swirl of unmanageable and dark emotions, but if you care about his feelings toward you, you are safely in His positive regard.

Even the Apostle Peter, when he denied Jesus three times and abandoned Him to die on the cross without being there with Him (Matthew 26:69-75). Jesus never expressed disapproval of him, even for that. Peter cared that he had failed Jesus. After His resurrection, there is no record that Jesus ever rebuked Peter, but only lovingly worked to restore him and lead him into his role and destiny.

It’s kind of like that mysterious unforgivable sin Jesus mentioned. Those who are concerned about whether they’ve committed it or not, they haven’t. Those who have committed it don’t care – not in the slightest degree.

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9 Anna May 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I think that feelings should be dealt with in the light of Scripture and not denied, dismissed or swept under the carpet. they will keep coming back until we bring them into the light , together with the causing factors. It`s beautiful to have the ability to feel, even if they are sometimes painful. Other times they are joyful. They enrich our life.

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