Last week, we talked about dealing with our feelings. I am a firm believer that we should not hide our feelings, but we should acknowledge them and process through them. Recently, however, I learned an important lesson from a beloved mentor last year: It’s great to be honest about our emotions, but it’s not okay to stay there.
Let’s say that I’m mad at my friends for not inviting me to go out with them. Do I have a right to be angry? Yes. Am I overreacting? No. God gave me emotions for a reason, and the fact that my friends did not invite me reveals an insecurity in me, and/or a mean group of friends. So at this point, I’m honest with myself about my anger. I’ve given myself permission to feel that anger. I’m not beating myself up for “overreacting” or for “taking it the wrong way.”
Yet, after a while, I begin to realize that my lonely pity party has done no good for me. It hasn’t made my relationship with my friends any better. It may have revealed some truth about how I feel about myself and about my friends, but I generally still feel bad about myself. After processing my emotions, I have to ask myself the question, “So what?”
The question is not meant to negate my emotions. I still have a right to be angry. However, I need to ask myself “So what?” so that I know where to go from here. The “So what?” question helps me come up with a plan. I could either shake it off and explain away their behavior (maybe they tried calling me when I was taking a nap), or I could confront them about it. Both solutions are meant to accomplish the same goal: Building better relationships with those around me.
You have every right to be offended, sad, surprised, hurt, disappointed, and scared. You can have emotions so deep and painful that they keep you up at night and make it impossible for you to eat. However, these emotions can be a stumbling block to your life and to your relationships. You should acknowledge and deal with your feelings, but you should also ask yourself “So what?” (What am I going to do about these feelings?).
As a woman, I have certain times of the month where my emotions are a little more difficult to manage. This is where knowing myself comes into play. If I know my period is coming, and that irritability and mood swings are both symptoms that I experience during that time, I should probably take my emotions with a grain of salt then. If my husband does something that makes me upset, maybe I should let it go instead of picking a fight with him. Maybe I should go for a walk, or work out. If you get sensitive during your period or other events that may trigger certain emotions, be aware of those times and learn how to manage your feelings when those circumstances occur.
Some people are afraid to get angry at God. God wants your honesty, your brokenness, and your desires. He can handle your anger. However, the danger with getting angry at God is staying angry at God. Anger can give off the false sense of empowerment and control, as if we could control God or be more powerful than God. If you are angry at God, pray, and allow God to reveal why you are angry. After that, do not stay angry! Ask God to help you move on from there. God wants a relationship with you more than He wants you to have feelings. At the end of the day, your goal with your emotions is to use them to help you build better relationships with yourself, with God, and with others.