rebelling against low expectations

How should I think about emotions?


ANONYMOUS WRITES: I know that God made us as emotional beings and that our feelings aren’t inherently bad. But I also know that my emotions can be deceptive and trick me into thinking certain things that aren’t true. For example, there are days I wake up just feeling sad, even though there’s no reason to. How do I manage my emotions for God’s glory? What do I do when I’m being driven by feelings?

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are submitted by real rebelutionaries who are looking for godly answers to tough questions and lively conversation with other young adults. You can join the conversation by commenting below. If you'd like to submit your own discussion question, email us at [email protected].


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  • That’s something I’ve been thinking about to recently. It can be pretty confusing. For once, I have absolutely no answer.

  • One way to keep your emotions in check is to bring every thought captive. 2 Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

    • Thanks for quoting that scripture. I think I should memorize that verse. My Bible study teacher (Who happens to be my literature teacher too, in case anyone wanted to know) quotes that verse every Wednesday morning at 6:00 am. So I hear that verse a lot and I just now realized that I should memorize it.

  • Ah yes, emotions. Pesky little things, aren’t they? I’m not really an overly-emotional person, but usually when I get slammed in the head with a football (or some other event takes place that should, technically, hurt) my automatic emotional reaction is, cry. Which is annoying because most of the time it doesn’t warrant that reaction, it’s like my brain gets knocked out of socket and my mind tells my eyes to overflow without first seeking my approval. So then I have to convince people that “I’m totally fine” while tears are running down my face. Not very convincing.

    Then there are those times when my emotions convince me that I’m worthless, I don’t measure up, and I’m not really saved. At times like those I call to mind the lyrics from a favorite Josh Wilson song of mine that say, “I’ll keep on believing, cuz faith is not a feeling”.

    Emotions and feelings are a good thing. God even has emotions. The Bible often tells us that God has compassion on His children. That He loves His people. God also feels pleasure when we make the right choices and decisions, and like a Father, his heart is saddened when we stumble and give in to temptation. We are made in the image of God, and God feels emotion. Our emotions are not a bad thing unless we allow them to control us. But by the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us, our emotions have no hold on us.

    At the start of every day, give your feelings and emotions to Him. Spend time talking and listening to God. Not only is it the best way to start your day, but by giving God control of yours thoughts and emotions and asking Him to use those things to glorify Himself through you, you are relinquishing the hold of your emotions over your actions and attitude. The devil loves to distort the things God intended for good. Don’t let Him use your emotions against you.

        • I know! People are like, “it’s okay.” And you’re like, “I know I’m okay, I’m just crying, but really, I’m totally fine.” And they’re like, “It’s okay to cry.” And you’re like, “I know, but I really am fine, I’m just crying.” And it continues…

        • ik! Then they like hug you and tell you everything will be okay and i’m like (all the while my eyeliner is running in an oh-so-classy fashion), seriously people I’m actually fine! *shakes head*

          • Yeah, your eyes start tearing up while you’re mentally berating your brain for allowing your eyes to cry. Like, “You fool! People will think you’re some over-sensitive wimp! Seriously, why are you even crying??? I didn’t give you permission for this.” *disgruntled expression* Tears are like Benedict Arnold, betraying the eyes by leaving them.

          • It stinks because I have five brothers and we play sports ALL THE TIME. Which means I’m -inevitably- going to get hit by all sorts of flying objects. I usually don’t cry because I’m in pain either. I just cry because my eyes decide to overflow at literally the most inconvenient times. *sigh* but perhaps that has less to do with emotion and more to do with malfunctioning tear ducts…haha, that would probably be difficult to explain without sounding like a total lunatic though. XD

      • Hey! If you don’t mind me jumping in up here… I love Josh Wilson’s music too!! There aren’t tons of people who do. That’s a great song. I have to remember it!

          • Josh Wilson is great! I got to meet him a few months ago at a concert. It was so much fun!

          • That’s soooo cool! I’ve never been to a Josh Wilson concert, but I bet they’re really cool! and then getting to meet him!!!

          • His concert was probably the best I’ve ever been to. He just seems super genuine and caring, and he can actually sing live! And his guitar picking skills… ridiculously good!

          • No kidding! Annoying for me who can’t play all that stuff!! He’s so fun to listen to in concert! I had to wait in line to meet him, and when it was my turn I was so flustered….

        • I’ve noticed that too. I wish I was as good at guitar as he is, I love his guitar instrumentals and stuff that he does! btw, did you know that he’s a pk? I’m excited about that ’cause I am too, but I guess you might not be if you’re not. Anywhoozles…

          • My Dad used to be a pastor. He still preaches sometimes, so I guess I’m kind of a PK, MK, SK, mixture. Which is pretty cool actually….

          • Yeah, I guess I’m technically a pk/mk, because my family moved to start a church last year…

          • I know, I’ve tried to learn to play some of his stuff, and it did not work. Maybe I should try again….

          • Thanks! We should have an official one. Yeah, I think Carry Me is better than his latest album, but I LOVE the music video for No More.

          • So, I hadn’t watched the music video before you said something about it. So I just did. Wow. That was probably the best music video I’ve ever seen. The song’s already so relatable, moving, and inspiring, but that video makes it so much more so. I almost started crying. When I actually saw something I feel sometimes put into words like that, I realized that, when I do that, I’m basically acting like God’s grace doesn’t apply to me, then to see it reversed like that…
            No more is my favorite from his new album. I think that it’s good, but I’d have to agree that it’s not his best.I really like See You, I think I have ot say that it’s my favorite of his albums because it has a larger quantity of my favorites of his. But some of my favorite Josh Wilson songs are from Carry Me.
            It’s so hard to choose…

          • So, funny story, we go on a two week mission trip to Uganda every summer, and last year I set an alarm with That Was Then, This Is Now, so it went off every morning at 6:00 and I would let the song play all the way through while I got up to get ready. It drove my roommate crazy and she would get so mad because after the trip it was perpetually stuck in her head. XD

          • That’s great!
            Yeah, I have my alarm in the mornings set to music. I rotate which song it is so that I don’t get used to it and sleep through it. I’ve had a couple different Josh Wilson song’s that I’ve used, but right now I’m using a Tenth Avenue North song. 🙂

          • Wow is pretty much all that can be said. Yeah, seeing the same words saying the opposite thing is so powerful. It’s awesome because God’s grace IS for us.

            See You is great–I just checked, and I love most of the songs on there. Do you like Forest Fire? It’s so powerful.

          • I love Forest Fire! I love the way that the 3/4 time signature makes it sound. It’s so different from the stereotypical modern Christian music. I love the lyrics, a good balance between a relatable song and a great reminder!

    • I understand what you’re saying about crying even when you feel like you don’t need to and shouldn’t be. I do that too sometimes.

    • I know what you mean, Abby. When I began to get better from some health issues I had, I struggled for a time with feeling angry and irritated over everything, and though I tried not to lash out at my family, I too often failed.

      I felt like I must not be a real Christian, or I could find a way to help it, and be nicer. Thinking this way only made me worse. My animosity shifted and I experienced strange, morbid desires to hurt myself.

      My family was invaluable during this time. They supported me, and loved me no matter what, (which demonstrated God’s unchanging love to me, because, honestly, I didn’t even like myself then) and convinced me that my life did matter, even if I didn’t have much to offer then.

      Crying for a while too was at the drop of a hat, unstoppable.

      Even though I’m much better now, I’m still more emotional than I once was.

      • Yeah. Music has always been my escape. If I’m upset, frustrated, confused, or just having a bad day, I can stick in some earbuds and it seems like all my problems just go away. I like making different playlists for different moods, so if I’m in a slump I can go to my encouraging playlist, etc. It helps a lot. Christian music always helps me put my focus back on God and take it away from myself and my “problems.”

        • If you’re ever in the need of encouraging music, you might check out Tenth Avenue North. They’re my go-to band for when I feel down. The Lord’s used many of their songs to speak to me and I find their music so relatable and encouraging. Especially By Your Side, You Are More, and Hold My Heart.

          • Tenth Avenue North! I love You Are More, one of the first songs I ever learned on guitar.

          • Now I am jealous, I’ve been wanting to learn some of their songs on guitar, but I just haven’t taken the time to work on it. I should get on that…
            Btw, do you like Times? I forgot to mention it before, but it’s another one of my favorites!

          • Now I really need to learn that song…
            Is it hard to learn? I’ve found that some things that sound hard are actually pretty easy to play…

          • Ah yes, Tenth Avenue North. I enjoy their music. I also like Hawk Nelson, MercyMe (esp. Welcome to the New and Lovewell albums), Francessca Battistelli, Danny Gokey, and the list goes on and on….and on.

          • The only thing I disagree with you on is that I’m not a huge fan of Francessca Battistelli. Although, I haven’t heard a whole bunch of her music, and I keep hearing great things about her. So I’ll have to look up more of her music…
            So, do you only like the new Danny Gokey stuff, or do like his older stuff too (i.e. his My Best Days album)?
            Same on MercyMe and Hawk Nelson.
            I have a long list too! 🙂

          • Yeah, I don’t listen to Francessca Battistelli as much as I used to…she has a very distinct voice, so it’s been my experience that people either really like her, or don’t like her at all. My sister says “If We’re Honest” is her best album, and I also like her albums “My Paper Heart” and “Hundred More Years”. Also, I do like some of Danny Gokey’s older stuff, although “My Best Days” isn’t my favorite, I do enjoy most of the songs. Oh yeah, do you like Newworldson or Unspoken?

          • *jumps in to music conversation* I loved “My Paper Heart”! I actually liked it better than some of Francesca’s newer albums. Same with Hawk Nelson… I liked the band a lot better like five years ago.

          • Yeah, the new stuff is good, but I kind like them now as a separate band, if you know what I mean. I really like Crazy Love, the video’s pretty entertaining, too.

          • Yeah, they changed their style a LOT. But it’s still okay. Crazy Love is super good. I like Zero, Take Me, California, and actually pretty much all of their old music. XD

          • I don’t know a whole lot of Newworldson, but they’re on a list I have of songs/bands to listen to! I love what I’ve heard of Unspoken (again, they’re on my list)!

          • As far as Newworldson goes, my favorite of their albums is Rebel Transmission. They have a pretty diverse musical style that’s like contemporary/reggae/soul/jazz just a mixture of a bunch of stuff. Also, some of their lyrics are a little confusing, but for the most part, they’re great. =) Oh, and I love Chris August, Needtobreathe, the Afters…haha, the longer I sit here the more groups I think of…have you heard of Anthem Lights?

          • I’m pretty much obsessed with Anthem Lights! They are my absolute favorite band! I could go on…

          • Fun fact: Anthem Lights fans are called lightbulbs and the reason that my profile picture is a light bulb is because I’m pretty much obsessed with them. (The nerd glasses are just because I’m a nerd.)

          • And once again, this has been random facts with Sarah. Tune in next time to hear Sarah give a riveting discourse on the inspiration behind Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (or Leo’s Toy Store to any Peanuts movie fans out there….) 😉

          • If you need me between episodes I’ll be researching Leo Tolstoy and the background of War and Peace….

          • OH, I loved Francesca Battistelli so much a few years ago! My 12th birthday present was 7 tickets to one of her concerts, and I and a bunch of friends got to her concert. It was insanely fun, although we liked Sidewalk Prophets better than her in concert.

          • The most fun part was that it was 4 hours away, down in Joplin, so we got to ride down there in our minivan and giggle and talk together all the way there and back. My poor father was driving… But yeah, if you can do it than you totally should. It’s gobs of fun.

    • I can totally relate to emotions making me feel worthless and not measuring up. Those are the hard days. I’ll definitely look up that song, I don’t think I’ve heard it!

  • Go to the Bible, fill your head with truth, and then trust God to use it in your heart. The Spirit will use the Word to make you feel in ways that show the Father’s glory –which is why your emotions exist in the first place.

  • Something that really helped me with this is a book called Against the Tide by Nancy Missler. It’s a very good book about going against the tide of our emotions. It has so much good advice and great quotes. I highly suggest reading it.
    Here’s a couple of my favorite quotes from this book:
    “…we have been so programmed to ‘feel’ everything we choose, that when we don’t ‘feel’ our choices, we don’t think they’re genuine. In God’s Kingdom, however, this does not have to be the case. Christians don’t have to be carried on by the ‘tide of emotion’ anymore, like non-believers, because we have God’s authority, not only to choose what He desires, but also His power to perform His desires in our lives-regardless of how we feel. This, to me, is one of the most incredible gifts of all. I don’t have to “feel” my choices; I just have to be willing to make them. God then does the rest.”
    “…we are not responsible to change our negative feelings. There’s no way we can do that! We’re only responsible to put in charge the Person who can change our feelings, and that, of course, is God. And we do this by, again, making faith choices. God, then, in His perfect timing and way, changes our feelings and our thought to match the faith choices we have made and makes us genuine. In other words, He aligns our feelings with our choices….Our only responsibility is to make the appropriate choices; God then is the one who will change our thoughts and emotions and make us genuine.”
    An important thing to remember, (I’m getting this from the book again) is that “the deeper the wound, the longer it will take for our feelings to align with our choices.”

  • I know that you’re not supposed to be guided by your emotions, but I too have had days where all of my attempts at changing my attitude of listlessness or depression have been useless.

    Sometimes, when depression is of a more clinical nature, there (at least, so far as I have been able to discover) little you can do, except pray that the Lord will bring you out of it, remind yourself of His truth, seek help from at least one of your family members, (let them know what’s going on) and try to shift your focus onto others.

    God created our emotions. They are good things that reflect Him, so long as we do not allow them to rule us and guide our actions.

    If you’re emotional because you are unwell, however, I think that’s a little different. It’s not like you’re just letting your emotions run away with you. Something in your body is affecting your brain negatively, and encouraging your overreaction.

    It’s important to remember that emotions are mind and body related.

  • Being a girl, those hormone things really do affect your emotions. I know that while I’m a pretty steady person emotionally, sometimes I just have a rotten week emotionally for no apparent reason besides the fact that my hormones are raging. Cue in the I-hate-being-a-girl-in-the-teenage-years thoughts and general grumpiness. In these senarios even when I know what is causing it, I am just annoyed and don’t really honestly care that much.

    On the other side, there are those times where my emotions are different just because of what’s been happening in life. The key is to remember that they’re just emotions. They change on a whim, for no apparent reason sometimes. They are not completely bad; it is good to feel joyful about good things and be filled with righteous anger or sadness at injustice and pain. We just can’t be controlled by them. We can’t base huge decisions on them.

    So: how to push through the grumpy times. Pray a lot. Read your Bible, particularly verses on joy and peace. Find a mentor or friend who will be honest with you and tell you when you’re overreacting because of hormonal emotions or who will cry with you/laugh with you. On the physical side, drink water when you’re getting a headache from emotional stress. I’ve literally had weeks where I’ve cried every day and had a headache because of it. So, stay hydrated. Also, naps improve your outlook on life enormously. So does chocolate.

    • I feel the same way. Thank you for the advice. Often, I don’t think of praying when I am overly emotional. I agree, chocolate always helps… and ice cream. 🙂

      • Couldn’t help but notice your username. Are you the Music Assassin because you assassinate music, or because you assassinate people/objects WITH music?

        • I assassinate music…in a good way. XD When I say I kill it, it means I nailed the piece….but not necessarily with a hammer…hopefully you get what I mean XD.

          • speaking of hammer, our pastor told me once that I play piano as if I’m hammer something so I practiced a better technique

            I broke and repaired our piano for three times already before I change my playing style hehe

    • I get what your saying and I do hate being a teenaged girl. When I was younger then 10 life was so much easier.

    • Chocolate/sugar helps me too………..but only for a certain amount of time….
      After that, I crash, and I feel grumpier than ever….
      So, I’ve learned to stay away from sugar if I’m hypo or grumpy!
      *is sad because I love chocolate*

      • Oh dear, that is highly unfortunate. Perhaps you shouldn’t take that piece of advice in this case. Sometimes when I’m feeling blue I just go raid the freezer of a handful of chocolate chips. If it’s a bad week than I start hearing cry of, “Who stole all the chocolate chips?” …..

    • I’m a bipolar teen boy and I deal with emotions by running. Teen hormone explosions and bipolar mixed together with excessive use of Caffene can result in insanity. I’m not as crazy as I wAs when I was 14 however. Just hold In there things may get better. And as others said, pray and such. As the apostle Paul says in I think in Romans ” I do all think through christ who has streghtened me.” Let’s remember that and try to live for Jesus even in our teen years

      • Amen to that. I realized after I had written this that I hadn’t thought about people who might suffer from clinical depression or bipolar. What you write is so true. Thanks for commenting!

  • A good book for you might be Stuart Olyott’s ‘Known and Felt’. It’s about the place of emotion in Christian life and worship because a lot of people are actually pretty down on emotion. Just remember we had them before the Fall.
    Sometimes you just feel pants. You need to learn to recognise when there’s a reason (then deal with that) and when you just feel that way because it’s how you feel (in which case learning to get through). I guess knowing yourself and having a biblical perspective on feelings is important.
    Sometimes a good cry is exactly what you need even if you don’t know why you’re upset. It can make you feel so much better 🙂 (and that’s coming from someone who hardly ever cries!)

    • So true, sometimes you really do just feel pants! I got way too much enjoyment out of that typo. 😂😂
      For real though, you have some really good advice here.

    • I totally second the ‘sometimes a good cry is exactly what you need’. Half the time when I’m crying I don’t even know why but I’ll feel so much better afterward. It can be annoying but also just a part of being a hormonal teenager!

      • I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes you just need to cry. Like you said, I always feel so much better afterwards.

      • Not to be the annoying nerd here, but the scientific reasoning behind why you feel better after crying is because emotional tears (there are different kinds of tears, btw) contain a higher concentration of stress hormones than other tears. These stress hormones can be harmful to our emotional and physical health, if allowed to build up too much. Directly affecting our immune system, weight, and mood. So by crying emotional tears every once in a while, you’re getting the build up of those toxins out of your system and that results in you feeling better. So, basically, yes, it’s hormones.
        I think it’s so amazing the way that God created our bodies to work!

        • “Not to be the annoying nerd here” says the light bulb with the nerdy glasses…just kidding. 😉 I didn’t find it annoying anyway. I love learning about the reasoning behind human’s (occasionally dorky) physical reactions to mental or emotional issues. So thanks for the info. =)

          • *In Veggie Tales’ Archibald Asparagus voice* “This has been random facts with Sarah. Tune in next time to hear Sarah say…”

          • Oh great, now I have a bunch of silly songs stuck in my head. I’m blaming you if I get weird looks for singing the song of the Cebu in the hotel lobby today.

          • If you’re going to sing in the lobby of the hotel, you should probably sing a song with a good moral, like the Yodeling Veteranian of the Alps: “When you go a little loopy, better keep your nurse well paid.”
            Oh, you know what would be hilarious? If you walk into the lobby singing, “Oh, where is my hairbrush? Oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where is my hairbrush?” 🙂
            But, whatever you do, don’t sing the Water Buffalo Song. Because then you’ll get people saying, “I don’t have a water buffalo! Where’s my water buffalo?!”

          • Haha, for some reason when I read that I heard Mr. Lundt’s voice in my head saying, “we’re going to get letters about this.” What about, I Love My Lips? Or better yet, I could just go down there belting out “I need to tell you something! I don’t got a bellybutton!” That would get some attention.

          • Yeah, just run around going, “It’s a lip. It’s a lip. It’s a lip, lip, lip! It’s a lip. It’s a lip. It’s a Lip, lip, lip! It’s a lip. It’s a lip. It’s a lip, lip, lip! Liiiiiiiiiiiiips! Lip, lip, lip!

          • This has been silly songs with Larry. Tune in next time to hear Larry say, “Have I ever told you how I feel about my nose?”
            “Oh look at the time!”

          • XD My lips turned blue, what could I do, She had a beard and it felt weird, my friends all laughed… Usta!

          • Haha, you skipped a few lines, but who cares, right? =p This has been silly songs with Larry. Tune in next time to hear Larry say, “Have I ever told you how I feel about my nose?”

          • Who doesn’t love a good silly song? You know what’s stuck in my head right now? Puppies are cuddly, puppies are cute, they’re never nasty or mean! I’d give a home, to all the lost puppies, if EVER ONE DAY I WERE QUEEEEEEEEN! Arf!
            (“What am I gonna do with all them dogs?”) XD

          • This is the most hilarious conversation! I love it! I agree, Ester is one of the best Veggie Tales!

          • “I don’t know.” I loved reading through this conversation! Now I have a whole bunch of silly songs stuck in my head! 🙂 😉

  • I tend to hide all my emotions deep down, so don´t have the definite answer for this, but something that helps me is to simply know Biblical truth and keep it in mind, and after that not condemn myself for simply reacting to things as a human, and be honest with what I´m feeling. After that I pray, and I´m done. It´s not like I magically become happy after my grandma dies or anything, but I feel this completeley unwarranted tranquility in God´s sovereignity.

  • I would suggest praying. And taking all your feelings and emotions captive to the obedience of Christ. Meaning, check your emotions and feelings by what Jesus says. Check your Bible if you have any concerns about what your thinking (or feeling) or if your in a bad mood, pray with a open heart to God. Let Him know what’s going on in your life, don’t keep it from Him. Not like you can keep anything from God, but He likes to hear about your emotions and feelings.

  • Wow, a lot of people have given some really good advice 🙂
    I would say that, as a very emotional person myself, it is very easy to get caught up in how we feel. But we should always line what we feel with what the Bible says… For example: I might wake up feeling broken, dirty, or useless, but the Bible says, as a child of God, that I am a new creature who God loves. Do I feel that way? Probably not but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
    Hopefully that helps a little. 😀

  • Cool question! I thought about this a lot lately because my emotions are able to take the lead of my life very easily. So I asked Jesus about it and when I was praying suddenly a thought went through my mind: Emotions will be in your life always – you are a human being who feels. But it’s up to you how important they will be for your life.

    So my conclusion for this is: We (people) feel emotions but we’ve been given brain from God. So we should use it. This helps me to overcome my fears when I know it isn’t okay to be afraid. In my case one of the hardest things to do is speaking with my friends about Jesus. I encourage myself that it’s just an emotion and God wants me to do that, that’s why I live and then I pray. I dare say that’ how Jesus made me braver. 😉

  • I have actually struggled a lot with emotions because I am a very logical person, and yet also a very passionate one. I think that the most difficult thing in handling emotion, for me, was that emotions were fairly incomprehensible — I couldn’t understand why I felt certain ways sometimes (like you said with the waking up sad for no immediate reason). It helped a lot when I stopped looking at my emotions as something to fight against and started looking at them as a tool.
    Emotions are your bodies way of communicating to you what you need. Whether they are true or not, they expose the things that are bothering you that your more logical side may not even realize are problems. When you learn to read what your body is telling you, you can get down to the root of the problem and handle it in a way that is glorifying to God instead of being swayed into something you may later regret. For example, I get overwhelmed really easily by loud noises, crowds of people, etc… They make me feel stressed out, which can lead to anger or sadness depending on the day. The emotional response alerts me to the fact that I’m not okay, and then I can figure out why I’m reacting that way. In this case, it’s because I feel out of control and therefore unsafe. When I recognize that, I can find ways of dealing with the actual problem instead of lashing out at other people.
    Our emotions, as you said, don’t always tell us the truth. I may feel lonely or insignificant at times, but that doesn’t mean that I am alone or that I have no value. But learning to use those emotions to point you to the real issue that needs to be dealt with (insecurity, a broken relationship, whatever) is extremely useful. In sum, I guess that my advice for you is to learn to use your emotions, not let them use you. Remember that they are a tool for communication: you just need to learn how to speak the language.
    I hope that helps.

  • I am not typically a super emotional person. I’m usually pretty happy. Hormones, however, really get me sometimes. Especially being girl, I can sometimes take that out on other people (ask my brother XD) I literally cried for 10 minutes for absolutely no reason. I definitely don’t have the answer. But I think stepping away from the situation and recognizing that these emotions are not you and looking at it from that perspective helps me.

rebelling against low expectations

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