A Christian Response to Emotion

I am one emotional chick.  I cry easily in sappy movies, I flare up in anger at the drop of a hat (or spilled cup of juice…).  You name the emotion, I’ve probably felt it within the past week or so.

This week I’ve been working on my Bible study, and what is it about???  Emotions.  Yep.  I was curious to see what it had to say… because honestly, not a whole lot I’ve seen has been practical steps in how to respond to emotion in a healthy way.  This week changed my perspective.

The author introduced what he calls the “ACTION” response.  I don’t know if he made this up, or if he got it from some training he did… but I liked it.  This is what he suggested doing in the face of uncontrollable emotion (or, I guess even “controlled” emotion.  You don’t have to be throwing plates at a wall to be angry…)

“A” :  acknowledge the emotion I’m feeling.  ** This is huge for me!  One I actually identified some of the emotions that were controlling my mind, I was a little embarrassed!…  such small things led to such huge emotional responses… **

“C”:  consider why I have the emotion.  **  Again, a big deal.  Forces me to look back to the source… **

“T”:  thank God that he will work in me to help master the emotion.   ** Ummm, seriously?  Yes.  It’s true.  It’s hard to be thankful for an emotion like hate or anger or anxiety… but I do believe that even those things that make me feel so awful can be used for good. **

“I”:  identify a biblical response.  ** This is why I title the post as it is.  Is it possible for a non-Christian, or a Christian not walking/talking with God to respond like this???  **

“O”:  obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.  ** I KNOW it’s not possible for a non-Christian to do this part, since the Holy Spirit has not yet been given to them.  I confess it’s hard for me to obey sometimes.  I hear… but acting on it can be a challenge with my will (wallowing in my emotion) vs. God’s will (taking care of it, using it for good)

“N”:  nurture the appropriate fruit of the Spirit.  **  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  **

So, I like these steps.  I like definitive plans, and this is one. 

Some quotes that made me think from this week:

Your emotions cause you to act, but you can also act your way into an emotion.

Ummm… yikes.  I’ve done that manymany times.

Although emotions are spontaneous, the actions they produce do not have to be.

I have been working on not “reacting” to circumstances the emotional way I would have in the past.  It’s a tough road, but one I’ve found rewarding so far, and with the help of these “ACTION” steps, hopefully more successful in the future.

Identifying the underlying cause of an emotion is a big step toward mastering your reaction to that emotion.

So true.  I did this with something I’ve been feeling for about the past 2-3 weeks.  I realized that the underlying cause had to do with growing up, and feelings of inadequacy then in my childhood/teen years.  After recognizing the root of my emotion, I had a choice.  Continue in it, or follow the ACTION steps.  I chose the latter, and seriously, feel physically lighter to not have that emotional burden anymore. 

That’s what I’ve been studying.  If anyone has any questions/comments, feel free to type away.  This is obviously the condensed version!

6 Comments on “A Christian Response to Emotion”

  1. When I struggled with this same issue (over reacting in an emotional way) I tried a lot of different things/advice to work my way to a better way of acting.

    I don’t want to discount what you’ve read, or to over simplify, but a friend finally gave me (freely!) the truth I had been paying to find.

    He told me to meditate on the Word.

    Huh?! I read my bible plenty already, and it hadn’t helped so far. But that’s just it. I used to read it. He taught me to meditate on it! (you may already know all this, but I was probably older than you are now when I had this revealed to me, so please don’t think I am condescending by sharing!!)

    The point was to read something, memorize it, and then think on it. Forget reading chapters a day. Choose (in my case it was Galations 5:22, 23, the fruit of the Spirit) the verse relevant to your difficulty, memorize it, than roll it around in your mind for days, weeks, however it long it takes for it to become a part of you.

    I would spend the day focusing on one aspect, say..love. What did love mean? How would “love” respond to a situation, what would “love” look like in a wife, mother, daughter? and so through the different fruits. I tell you, when it came to kindness, gentleness..I sure had a lot to think about! How would a kind and gentle person speak? How would they feel about a little one’s careless accident? These things made disciplining “in love” a look a lot different.

    After a couple of weeks of this, I kind of sprang to attention one day and realized I had been different. Not one bit of it was my doing. There had been no straining to act like a nice mother/wife should while all the time wishing I could give someone a piece of my mind!

    The reason is that it is the Word which renews our mind. Although we have responsibility for our actions, it is not we who are able to change our sinful natures, any more than it is us who can save our sinful souls! God, in His mercy, works through His Word to renew our minds. Isn’t that amazing?!

    Anyway, sorry for the whole post in your comment section, lol! It’s just that I wish everyone could know what it took me too long to find out!


  2. Oh, you are so right! I met with my friend who is sort of mentoring me right now, and she said the same thing! We worked on nailing down specific emotions, and then finding circumstances/verses in the Bible to focus on related to those! 🙂
    I have tried and tried to change myself so many times and failed miserably… and I’m grateful to be learning now that changing myself is not my responsibility… I just need to be open to the changes that God would make in me, you know?
    I think I will give your fruits of the spirit meditation a go.
    Thanks for the post, err, comment! 🙂

  3. Let me thank you first for your blog.

    my heart is bursting to share with everyone that Jesus was full of emotions. a man of sorrows. He cried, wept, felt anger, Jesus felt Joy.
    If Jesus was emotional its ok to feel them to.
    I have had a roller coaster of emotions in my life. I have even felt bad about crying. I have asked for prayer many years ago so that i would not burst into tears in public. The leader of a church wisley told me ‘its actually ok to feel these emotions’.

    I had, had enough of bursting into tears. Unfortunatly I became too hardened. It even came to a point where I stoped myself crying when i should have let it release.

    To me a good boo hoo is a way of expressing one self when words can not. so when I sob and someone asks me what the matter is, I can only think to myself ‘if I could tell you I would not be crying about it.’

  4. Hugo, I agree. Emotions are not bad in and of themselves… I hope that the post didn’t come across that way! I was more referring to when I let my emotions dictate my actions; especially when I should be trusting/leaning on God more rather than my human emotion.
    Thanks for your comment!

  5. I tend to veer off the topic a bit. I shared what was on my own heart about emotion.

    Your blog is really great. keep up the exellent writing.

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