“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. Talk about emotional distress!
But even in the midst of their distress was the truth which they did not yet 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 saw David as “a man after his [God’s] 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.
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).
4 I Samuel 30:6
5 I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22