Navigating a Sea of Emotions

Kristin HanleyDo you ever feel like you are drowning in a sea of emotions?

God gave us His word to help us in navigating that sea! My special guest, homeschool mom and women’s Bible study leader Kristin L. Hanley, shows us how to use it!

Kristin is the author of the highly-rated book Navigating a Sea of Emotions, which is available now on Amazon. In addition to being an online English professor, Kristin loves to hike, bake pies, and play games with her family.

You can connect with Kristin directly at kristinlhanley.com.

*************************************************************

1. What are your favorite scriptures that help you manage your emotions and why?

First, anchoring in Scripture is vital if we want to avoid the world’s whipping. After all, we live in a culture that screams, “If it feels good, just do it.”

Sometimes, I am not much better with my self-talk. My feelings can fluctuate from contentment to anger to depression in an alarmingly short amount of time, but I can’t allow those emotions to dictate my choices. Putting a guard on my thoughts keeps my mind from falling down the whirlpool of feelings.

Proverbs 29:11 encourages us to process what we are feeling but not allow it to captain our lives, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

Don’t be afraid to feel; don’t stuff it, but take your emotions to the Lord and allow Him to help you sort through the mess.

Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;” King David experienced the full spectrum of emotions, willingly submitting them to the Lord.

We take our hearts to our Father and ask Him to do inventory for us, because we aren’t perceptive to the objective reality behind our feelings. And instead of relying on what we feel, we rest in what we know to be true.

Hosea 4:6 states that God’s people were “destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Without the anchor of truth in our lives, lies guide the ship, taking us off course.

2. What are 3 of your best tips to help others manage their emotions in Godly ways?

When we are dealing with overwhelming feelings (sadness, discouragement, disgust, anger, etc.), dialoging with the Lord allows us to access the root of our emotions.

Push reset on my identity. First off, am I feeling this way because of an insecurity or misplaced identity issue? Am I being overly sensitive because my worth rests in others’ assessments instead of what the Lord speaks over me?

Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.” Who am I really?

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9).

Take a time-out and thank Him. Another way to manage emotions involves the use of rest.

What aspect of my spirit is depleted right now and why? Say yes to the Lord’s invitation to rest by still waters (Psalm 23).

At times, I have to tell my kids, “Mom needs a time-out.” Take a short walk, breathing deep and choosing to give thanks. Few things will restore emotions to a godly pattern more than thanksgiving.

Write out a gratitude list when you are feeling distracted, angry, sad, or just “blah.”

Remember eternity. Despite the lengthy struggles we endure on this earth, our time here is brief. A vapor, a wisp, a blade of grass.

Psalm 144:4 states our condition this way: “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Our lives have a purpose, but we were made for so much more. Understand that one day every wrong will be righted, every tear wiped away, every pain released.

Colossians 3:2, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

3. What sabotaging thoughts (lies) do Believers need to release that keep them in bondage to negative emotions? 

Whew – so many lies sabotage the believer, making her ineffective and stagnate. Here are a few I’ve encountered:

Lie: “It’s all up to me. If I don’t take responsibility, everything will fall apart.”

But the truth is this: God has made me secure in Him and I am sealed by the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). Regardless of what calamities befall me, I am still His, fully accepted and loved (Col. 1:22). My life is in His hands, and He is God—not me. Meditate on Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Lie: “I am not worthy of His grace and forgiveness unless I….[fill in the blank].”

Being a type-A, task-driven, guilt-prone personality, I’ve had to relinquish this controlling false belief that demands I meet certain standards of success before I can accept His love. I’d love to say I’ve overcome and remained on top, but I have to remind myself continually that He loves me regardless of what I achieve.

Lie: “If I fail, I am a forever failure.”

When we mess up—which we all will—we condemn ourselves, placing the ‘L’ over our foreheads. I should just give up and quit. I’m never going to get this right.

God’s conviction should move us forward; if it doesn’t, we might ask ourselves if we are feeling condemnation instead of conviction.

Consider the car analogy: Conviction takes the car through the car wash and allows it to drive on, but condemnation takes the dirty car and parks it, allowing the vehicle to rust in misery.

Failing doesn’t make me a failure. With His help, we keep getting up, repenting and walking forward.

4. What are some things Believers can do at the “moment of decision” when they are tempted to practice destructive behavior when emotionally upset?

When we feel tempted to seek alternative gods to appease our stress, fear, anger, or disappointments, remember to safeguard your heart with these truths.

  • The temporary fix is just that: temporary. Is it worth it? What false belief am I buying that says, “It’s worth the sacrifices later on”?
  • When I say “yes” to one thing, I am saying “no” to something else (either consciously or subconsciously). If I say “yes” to one more project for work, one more ministry opportunity, or one more night away, what am I giving up? Sleep? Time with my kids? Quiet Scripture reading? Exercise? Why am I making this sacrifice? Again, does it come down to a false perception of identity?
  • Practically speaking, our thoughts won’t always comply. Sometimes you need accountability, a person to call. I have friends who even use social media (blog, FaceBook posts, etc.) to invite the community to hold them to a standard.

We need cheerleaders and coaches. Find those people who will ask the tough questions but also encourage you along the way.

– Kristin

Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness,

Kimberly Taylor