This scene from Inside Out is my favorite in the entire movie. Don’t you wish you could have such running commentary by your emotions (or the emotions of someone else) readily visible to you as they are in this movie? I do! I can think back to several conversations I’ve had with people - especially my college small group girls - when I would have loved (and been helped) by an inside look into why they responded the way they did.
This past year, so much has happened that I can’t sum it all up in one blog post, but one thing that God has been teaching me is the connection between our emotional health and our spiritual growth. It started with two college girls I discipled. I watched as one grew closer to God, and in doing so, she began to face and work through the anxiety, guilt, and stress she experienced from things in her past and present. She turned to God with her emotions.
In contrast, the second girl would acknowledge that she felt angry or jealous or anxious, but she would not take the time to figure out why or to address those root reasons. And in connection to this, she was not spending regular time with God. I saw her emotionally spiral downward in conjunction with her lack of pursuit of God.
I’m not saying that growing in your relationship with God will magically solve all of your emotional issues. There are spiritual reasons for why we feel the way we do, but there are also cognitive, environmental, and physical reasons - sometimes even genetic reasons - that contribute to our emotional state. But as I study God’s Word and pursue Him, it affects how I think and feel. God sanctifies me. He changes me from the inside out - my heart, my mind, my affections, my will, my relationships, and my purpose.
My mom is a counselor, and she once gave me the analogy of how a person is like a table with four legs. There’s a spiritual leg, a physical leg, a relationship leg, and an emotional leg. If one leg of a table is off, the table wobbles and that one leg needs to be addressed. If multiple legs of a table are off at varying levels, then each leg will need to be leveled out.
The same goes for a person. The whole person has to be considered, and a person’s emotions are just one part of the equation.
In this blog series, we are going to look at emotion from a biblical perspective. What does the Bible have to say about why we have emotions? How can/should a Christian respond when experiencing “problematic” emotions such as anxiety, anger, bitterness, depression, etc.? Why is there often a disconnect between what we believe about God and how we feel? These are questions we’ll be answering this summer in our Discipling Your Emotions blog series, so I hope you’ll check back with us each week.
I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I do think it’s important for the church to speak into the subject of emotions because we all have them and have to deal with them. I had one counseling professor in seminary who told us almost weekly, “You’ve got issues. I’ve got issues. All God’s children got issues.” And the same can be said for emotions. We’ve all got them, so let’s learn together what the Bible has to say about them.