Generally speaking, feelings reveal the content of the heart. This is important to understand for if you want to correct unhappy or sad feelings, you have to address the heart. For as much as I know about biblical counseling when I apply this truth to myself I still don't like it! I would much rather blame how I am feeling on someone else, take a circumstance in my life and say that "it" is the reason I am feeling sad, or angry or even depressed.
Thinking biblically, I know that most of the time my feelings and emotions are my responses to things that a sovereign God has brought into my life. He allows hardship through financial reversal, He allows rebellious children who throw away all the truth that has been poured into them, He allows job loss, He allows our husbands to sin against us, He allows our bosses to treat us unkindly, and He allows our country to be taken over by people we don't approve of.
How I respond to these or any other things that take place in life reveal what I believe about God. Isn't that amazing?! Next time you find yourself "in a mood" about something, try asking yourself questions like these:
- What do I want that I am not getting?
- What am I getting that I do not want?
- What perceived right of mine is being violated?
- Who or what are my thoughts focused on now?
- Have I pinned my hopes on something that I have been denied?
- What do I believe would make me happy?
Asking yourself questions will help you clarify what your thought patterns are, they will help you understand why you are feeling the way you are. The answers help us to identify what is going on in the heart that is leading me to think, believe, and desire the way I am at that point in time.
Once I know what I am thinking and if it is in line with God's Word or not I can make a correction to get it there. When I can clarify what I believe to be the truth I can compare it against the truth of Scripture and see if is measures up to God's unchangeable Word. When I can identify what I desire or worshiping in my heart I am able to determine if I am practicing some form of idolatry, and once I know what it is I can rid myself of it and return to worshiping God alone.
So many times women have told me what a huge change has been made by practicing this one aspect of counseling! Understanding what one thinks, believes, and desires in their heart is crucial and critical to true change of life.
Of course, there are certainly times when we are in the midst of tragedy and great loss that we can barely make sense of our thoughts or our feelings. They are too jumbled and we are in a daze of pain. For instance, I remember when I lost my Mom, I had a pile of feelings and emotions that I had no clue what to do with. I was happy and devastated at once. I was relieved and guilty at the same time. I was rejoicing and sorrowful. And I was also numb.
Emotions want to sweep us away and you may find you have to work at this a while and then set it aside and come back in a while. I will never tell you this is an easy process, because it is not. It is a fight against the flesh that desires to wallow and sulk and ruminate.
Even the desire to wallow, sulk, and ruminate has to be examined! What is the reason you want to do those things? Is it because you want sympathy? Is it because it feeds your flesh? You see, in our humanity our deceitful hearts take us places we don't realize we want to go. This is why the Spirit of God must be leading the charge for change. We have a hard time discerning what is in our sinful heart because we lie to ourselves! But God who sees and knows all- He is completely aware of all of the contents of the heart and only He can help us to overcome.