Emotions. Sometimes they feel like a girl’s best friend, but often they feel like a girl’s worst enemy. Much as we might want to escape them at times, we can’t. So how are we to think about them, and what on earth are we to do with them?
I have much more to learn when it comes to these unruly feelings, but here are thirty things I do know about emotions (in no particular order):
Surprisingly, letting others “in” when you’re feeling sad seems to forge friendships much faster than if you appear to have everything “together.”
Let a few trusted friends know when you’re struggling. Ask for prayer. It will help!
Your emotions don’t have to control you.
Don’t make any big decisions when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. That’s the time to HALT. (I think I learned this acronym from you, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Thanks for that.)
PMS is real, but it’s not an excuse to sin. Prepare for it by tracking your cycle so you know what to expect, and pray accordingly.
Joy isn’t simply an emotion; it’s a fruit of the Spirit of God (Gal. 5:22).
It’s a beautiful thing when a guy is willing to show emotion from time to time.
God acknowledges that there are things that are truly frightening, and then He tells us not to fear them but to hope in Him (1 Peter 3:6).
Tears are not a weakness.
It is better to cry than to hold it all in.
It’s okay to be angry . . . if you don’t sin (Eph. 4:26).
That being said, anger is rarely righteous (James 1:20).
Examine your emotions often. They’re excellent indicators of what you’re believing, which—if you’re like me—you’ll often need to repent of and replace with truth.
Other times, ignore your emotions. Sometimes it’s best NOT to listen to them or give them even an inch.
Just because you’re a “feeler” doesn’t mean you can’t also be a “thinker.” Don’t let people pigeon-hole you.
There is only one reason we can “not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6). The answer lies in the verse just before this: “The Lord is near.” (Thanks for this insight, Paul David Tripp.)
True joy is found in God’s presence (Ps. 16:11). Therefore, you can be happy anywhere, even in a nursing home! (I’ve never forgotten you telling me this at Applebee’s years ago, Maria Johnson.)
There’s time to have fun, but it’s also important to be serious (1 Peter 5:8).
Sadness won’t kill you. It is okay to feel sad this side of heaven. In fact, good can even come from it.
Once you’ve suffered and been comforted, you’ll be better equipped to encourage others in similar situations (2 Cor. 1:3–5).
Emotions change nearly as often as the nighttime sky; God’s truth never changes.
Cutting or harming yourself in any way is not the answer to the inner pain you feel.
Piano keys are a great, safe way to express your emotions. If you don’t play the piano, find another safe, healthy way to process your emotions.
Know yourself well enough to know whether you need to be with people when you’re feeling emotional or whether time alone would help.
Sugar only makes you feel more crazy.
It’s wise to keep your mouth shut when you’re feeling especially emotional (Prov. 29:11).
At the same time, if you’re struggling with your emotions, let those around you know that if they “see” anything on your face, it’s not them; you’re just having a rough day. (Thanks for this, Wes Ward.)
Those who don’t feel deeply often wish they could. Don’t despise your emotions; God can use them for good.
Two weeks ago I shared how I was finally dating a godly man, and I was less than enthused. I knew he wasn’t meeting my expectations, but I couldn’t have even told you what exactly those expectations were. So one tear-filled afternoon, I finally forced myself to sit down and identify my expectations for a dating relationship.
I realized how much culture had informed my expectations rather than God’s Word.
You might not have a boyfriend yet, but I’m positive you know what it’s like to feel blue because your expectations didn’t pan out. Maybe that new haircut didn’t transform you into an instantaneous beauty queen like you expected it to. Or that 4.0 didn’t get you the praise you thought it would.
So what should you do when the tears start to fall, and you find yourself head to head with unmet expectations?
First, grab a pen and some paper, and write down your expectations that aren’t being met.
Then go back and examine each one. Are your expectations based more on truth or on a lie? Do they line up with God’s Word?
If they’re not based on truth, confess to God that you’ve been believing lies, and begin to praise Him for revealing truth to you.
Jesus said in John 8:32,
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Here, look over my shoulder at what I wrote down about my (unmet) expectations for dating:
I expect . . .
His full attention, but he has other interests. For example, he comments on trees and fields we drive by rather than only having his eyes and mind glued on me.
Magnetic eye contact, but he doesn’t drink me in with his eyes. His eyes seem under control.
Never-ending interest in me—and all that interests me—shown by question asking. But he doesn’t ask nearly as many questions as me.
Him to always be pushing the envelop physically, not able to keep his hands and lips off me. Culture has always told me he’ll only want one thing, but he’s self-controlled and can keep his hands and lips off me.
Fun, romantic, creative dates planned by him. We’ve only been to one nice restaurant, and we haven’t done that many fun, creative things together. But we’re also long-distance . . .
Him to always want to talk to me. This just isn’t the case. We’re both very busy; him even more so than me.
Continual compliments, mostly about how beautiful I am. He does compliment me often, just not often enough for my insecurities.
It was eye-opening to see my expectations spelled out so baldly on paper. As I looked at them, I realized how much culture had informed my expectations rather than God’s Word.
I wiped my hand over my eyes, picked up my pencil, and continued with a second list, based on things that are truly good:
A few things I didn’t expect that I do have . . .
Friendship. He called me his “buddy” when he was here last week.
Excellent communication. I didn’t know it could be so good.
I’m totally myself with him. No pretenses, no holding back the truest parts of me.
Influence. He mentioned this past week (again) how I “inspire” him.
A self-controlled man. All the stereotypes and experiences I’ve had tell me men will pressure me. But he told me he doesn’t feel right “stealing the cookies out of the cookie jar” before he’s committed to me in marriage (referring to kisses).
A humble man who’s honest about his weaknesses. This morning he texted me, “I continue to be amazed at how sinful I really am. Yowza!”
An imperfect man whom I respect. I’ve seen his weaknesses and sin (though I’m sure not all of them), and I still respect him. I believe I see him growing in godliness. I will continue to watch for this.
Now that I’m on the other side of this tumultuous season, I share this with you to encourage you to do the hard work of identifying exactly what your expectations are. Then, if they’re not in line with God’s truth (like mine weren’t!), repent and turn from them. Renew your thinking with God’s truth instead.
Ultimately, Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). He alone will never disappoint. So here’s to not only having right expectations; here’s to our greatest expectations be firmly rooted in Him!
This post is adapted from a very personal prayer I wrote in my journal some time back. I think you’ll be able to relate! Just by way of a disclaimer: this post is not written for guys. It’s important that men speak into other men’s lives about being faithful to the women in their lives in their glances (and mostly their second glances!), their thoughts, and their actions.
How I need You, Abba.
I don’t normally think about things like this, but I don’t have toned thighs, and suddenly I’m aware that he would probably like that.
I think it all started when I asked him how he’s most often tempted and what he does about it. He told me he wasn’t too keen on sharing details, but he said the standard things you hear guys struggle with are true, beginning with idolizing outer beauty.
That was hard to hear. He’s not immune to the struggles of men. And with that admission entered a flood of insecurities. (Wait, they were already there, weren’t they?)
Here’s another guy who won’t find me beautiful enough.
I’m not enough.
But then . . .
No woman is enough to capture the gaze of one man for every second of her short stay on earth. Because no man, apart from Jesus Christ, is 100% faithful. And no man is immune to all beauty but mine.
I think the root issue is actually mine: wanting a created man to validate me and tell me I’m “enough,” when only Christ is enough . . . for me and for him.
Yes, I want to “cultivate my garden” for my future hubby to enjoy, but I don’t want to chain him to a leash and insist he never leave my garden without a blindfold and a seeing eye dog.
So I wonder . . . Will You be enough for me, God, when I am not enough for my man? Because if not, doesn’t that prove that I am not living as if Your love, approval, and delight is enough for me?
And didn’t You love me—freely, lavishly—when I was captivated by others’ beauty? Didn’t You love me without insisting that I keep my eyes on You or else Your love would be withdrawn?
Only You can do this, God, ’cause You know me. I’m the woman who naturally keeps track of every glance and suspects ill motive behind each one. But You don’t keep track of my sins. You’ve removed them as far as the east is from the west.
Thank You for exposing the idolatry in my heart. I think the root issue is actually mine: wanting a created man to validate me and tell me I’m “enough,” when only Christ is enough . . . for me and for him.
How about you? Do you expect your future boyfriend/husband to never ever so much as even look at another woman? How do you think you’ll react if and when he does notice another beautiful woman?
I pray we’ll be women secure enough in God’s love that instead of seeking to “imprison” our men and keep them from noticing any other beautiful woman, that instead we help do battle with our men through love, prayer, and confidence in Christ.
I get how Liam, Niall, Harry, Zayn, and Louis melt your heart. I do. They’re sexy, they’re funny, and they’ve been coached by the very best to know just how to tug at your heartstrings.
They’re your life. You feel like they complete you. Like they’re perfect. Like they love you even though they’ve never met you.
I don’t know how to break this to you gently, but . . . it’s all one beautifully packaged lie.
The truth is, they don’t know you. They probably don’t even care about you—other than to be grateful in a vague sense that as one of their millions of fans you give them the attention and acceptance they crave.
See, ultimately, they’re no different than you. They, too, have an emptiness—a wild, restless craving to be loved and accepted.
So they get up on stage after stage to sing songs someone else wrote that play to your insecurities and send your emotions soaring and your tears falling. And then they walk off the stage and probably never think about you twice . . . or at least not in a way that’s in your best interest.
It’s not that I take pleasure in deflating your world. It’s just that I know One Direction won’t always be there for you. Like every other band in history, they will be replaced. Like every other human in history, they will die.
That’s what I want for you. That you’ll turn from your idol and worship and serve your Creator rather than One Direction—so you can experience true joy. That you will personalize His promises the way you’ve personalized One Directions’ lyrics. Promises no boy band could ever fulfill like:
Last month my friend turned thirty, and a small group of us got together to celebrate her life and friendship. After a lovely dinner in an idyllic outdoor garden, we drove to the local civic theatre to watch the play LesMiserables.
Even though I’m familiar with the story, it wasn’t until I watched the play that I realized Eponine and I have something big in common.
Chapter six (“The Relationship in My Head”) is where I admit to the imaginary relationship I had for years with Caleb. Oh, for the longest time I didn’t realize it was in my head. But like Eponine, there came a moment of truth when I saw that my relationship with Caleb had never been anything more than a fantasy.
See what I mean as you read these excerpts from Eponine’s song. I’ve italicized the lines that especially point to her “imaginary relationship.”
On My Own
. . . now the night is near Now I can make believe he’s here
Sometimes I walk alone at night
When everybody else is sleeping I think of him and then I’m happy
With the company I’m keeping
The city goes to bed
And I can live inside my head
On my own Pretending he’s beside me
All alone I walk with him till morning
Without him I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me . . .
And all I see is him and me forever and forever
And I know it’s only in my mind
That I’m talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind
Still I say, there’s a way for us
. . . every day I’m learning
All my life
I’ve only been pretending . . .
How about you? Can you relate? Are you counting on a relationship that’s only in your head? Here’s a short true/false quiz from my book to help you find out:
The “Is It in Your Head?” Quiz
I talk about my crush more than I talk to him. (true/false)
He’s never actually told me he likes me, but I have good reason to believe he does. (true/false)
I constantly “collect evidence” to convince myself he likes me—smiles, laughter, words, and looks. (true/false)
If you answered true to some or all of these questions, you’re in danger of counting on a relationship that’s only in your head.
To read all about my relationship with Caleb—and also discover what a girl’s to do when she realizes (like Eponine and me) that a relationship is only in her head—order a copy of my book here.