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.
What are some things you do to boost your trust in God? I’m having issues with stepping back and simply saying “You’re in charge.” I just can’t get myself to do it. I’m too stubborn. What should I do to humble myself and step back? It’s really weird. I want to, but I feel like I can’t.
First off, you’re not alone. Human beings have struggled to trust their Creator ever since . . . Genesis 3!
But if you’re ready to get serious, here are five ways you can boost your trust in God today.
1. Get to know God.
Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve been trained not to trust strangers. It’s only been as you’ve gotten to know someone that you’ve learned that they could be trusted.
As you get to know Him through His Word, you will begin to see that He is absolutely trustworthy.
The same is true of God. He is a Person who has let you know what He’s like by writing a Book about Himself. As you get to know Him through His Word, you will begin to see that He is absolutely trustworthy, and your trust in Him will grow (Rom. 10:17).
2. Learn from those who have walked with God longer than you have.
Rather than having to learn everything the hard way, grab onto the wisdom of those who have gone before. It will save you a whole lotta pain!
In Numbers 20:2, we learn that the people of Israel had no water. The thing is, forty years earlier, the previous generation had experienced the same thing (Ex. 17:1). In that case, God had provided water from a rock. How do you think this knowledge could have helped the younger generation as they faced the same test?
3. Remember God’s trustworthiness in the past.
All through Scripture God commands us to “remember,” “remember,” “remember” His faithfulness. In Joshua 4:6, the people were commanded to set up twelve stones for this reason:
“These stones will remind the people of what the Lord has done.”
What can you do today to keep track of and remember the many times God has proved Himself trustworthy? Maybe it’s journaling about the experience or framing a picture of it or . . .
4. Surround yourself with people who trust God and encourage you to trust Him as well.
Proverbs 12:26 is just one of many verses that shows us the importance of who we do life with: “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
5. Choose to trust God, even when you feel like you can’t. Just do it.
It is exactly these tough moments that will teach and strengthen you to believe and trust God. This is the perfect opportunity to grow your trust in Him! But first you’ll have to just . . . trust.
When nothing in you wants to trust God, that’s precisely when faith steps in.
Trust, or faith, is a simple (okay, not necessarily easy, but definitely doable) act of the will. When nothing in you wants to trust God, that’s precisely when faith steps in. Faith chooses to trust God’s promises rather than trusting one’s own feelings. It’s your choice: trust yourself, or trust God. Who do you think is more trustworthy?
I’d love to hear from you. How else can we all boost our trust in God?
One of you recently asked, “How do you live 1 Peter 3:3–4? I have an idea, but I’m not sure.”
You’ve probably heard these verses before, but here’s a refresher:
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
How do you live these verses?
Not without 1 Peter 3:1–2 or 1 Peter 3:5–6. Context is critical to understanding what the Bible means. So let’s check out the surrounding verses. The chapter begins:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
Ah! So Peter is writing to married women.
Sweet! So I don’t have to listen to and apply this passage yet because I’m not married, right?
But before we apply it to ourselves, let’s make sure we understand the original meaning of this text.
First Peter 3:3–4 is followed by these verses:
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Yowza. This passage is all about . . . submission! Before you start sending me hate mail, let me point out some good news:
In the context of marriage, we are only commanded to submit to one man, our own husband. You don’t have to submit to other women’s husbands (re-read the first part of verse 1 to see this for yourself), although part of being a Christian is respecting and considering the needs of all people.
God isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done. Did you notice the way 1 Peter 3 started with the word “Likewise”? Peter is comparing our submission to someone else’s. But whose? Flip the page in your Bible to the end of chapter two for the answer.
We are all called to submit to the authorities over us. Not only to those who are “good and gentle,” but also to those who are “unjust.”
Because Christ, our Lord, did so for you and me:
Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:21–23).
Obviously there’s a whole lot more to get out of this text, but let me stop and try to answer this girl’s question about how to live out 1 Peter 3:3–4 as a single. I’d suggest starting with this:
Submit to the authorities who are currently in your life while ultimately entrusting yourself to your heavenly Father. Make your dad and mom’s job easy. Seek to be easy to lead.
Remember that your beautiful face will eventually go, but your character will remain. Don’t trust in your outer beauty to capture and keep a man.
Ask God to help you not fear anything that’s frightening. Seek to grow your trust in Him so you don’t have to trust in yourself during frightening times, but can throw yourself on Him.
Now that you know a bit more of the context of 1 Peter 3:3–4, how else do you think you can begin to become this kind of reverent, fearless, God-trusting woman?
1. Your tears are seen by God. He doesn’t miss a single one.
“Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you” (2 Kings 20:5).
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Ps. 56:8).
Are you tempted to believe God doesn’t see or care about your pain? If so, how does that line up with this truth from His Word?
2. God has been known to change His mind as a result of our tears and prayers.
“Go and say to Hezekiah, thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isa. 38:5).
What are you asking and trusting God to change?
3. God weeps, too.
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Heb. 5:7).
4. There’s a difference between simply crying . . . and crying to God.
“My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God” (Job 16:20).
Are you aware of God while you’re crying?
5. Praying and tears go together.
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears!” (Ps. 39:12).
Are you praying while you’re crying?
6. Serving the Lord and tears go together.
“Serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials” (Acts 20:19).
“For three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:31).
How often does the work you are doing for God lead you to tears?
7. Loving others and tears go together.
“I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (2 Cor. 2:4).
If tears are any indication, how deeply do you love others?
8. We should cry over what breaks God’s heart.
“My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law” (Ps. 119:136).
Are your tears self-centered or God-centered?
9. Tears aren’t just for girls.
In Psalm 6:6, David says:
“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.”
Have you believed the lie that it’s a weakness for guys to cry?
10. There will be seasons of nearly endless tears. But it’s just that. A season . . . that will turn into a new season.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5).
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps. 126:5–6).
Will you choose to believe in your pain right now that life will not always be like this? Because it won’t be.
11. Sometimes the most appropriate response we can have is to cry.
“Their heart cried to the Lord. O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite!” (Lam. 2:18).
When is the last time you cried over the state of the world? Your nation? Your city? Your church? Your school? Your family?
12. Sometimes God doesn’t want us to cry anymore.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy’” (Jer. 31:16).
Could it be that you have cried enough, that it is time to look ahead to what God will do?
13. Other people might be uncomfortable with your tears, but God is not.
“And standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. . . . Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair’” (Luke 7:38, 44).
You don’t have to hide your tears from God.
14. God comforts those who are hurting.
“God, who comforts the downcast” (2 Cor. 7:6).
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18).
Are you allowing God to comfort you?
15. There are two kinds of tears: godly tears and worldly tears.
“Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Examine your tears. Are they godly or worldly? (Why are you crying?)
16. It is possible to cry without actually repenting of your sin.
“Afterward, when [Esau] desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:17).
Have you done more than just cry? Have you repented of all known sin?
17. One day God Himself will wipe away the last of your tears.
“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken” (Isa. 25:8).
Are you waiting and watching for Christ’s return with great hope?