Everybody is emotional. Learning how to identify, understand and manage your emotions is one of the most important life skills you can practice.
Now maybe you’ve heard, or said yourself, “I’m not an emotional person.” What that really means is such a person buries their God-given emotions. God designed humans to experience emotions, but not to be mastered by them. I’ve observed adults behaving with uncontrollable emotions, like 2-year-olds having temper tantrums.
Personally I often feel pulled toward one or the other of those two extremes. Don’t you?
As a human, Jesus experienced emotions like anguish, sadness, joy and more. His famous prayer, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42), is the result of Jesus managing his emotional state of being “overwhelmed with sorrow” (Matthew 26:38).
How to manage emotions
God’s Word prescribes behaviors in life that are not themselves emotions, yet they help us practice emotional balance and health. Here are 8 practices of emotionally healthy people, from Romans 12:9-21:
- “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Love practices discernment and sets boundaries. With self first. With others second. These promote emotional balance.
- “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Love considers the impact of our emotions on others, from angry outbursts to self-despair that spoils the party. Emotional health considers its own well being because it is devoted to the well being of others.
- “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Practice eager enthusiasm more consistently. How? Serve an audience of One. Seek to please the Lord more than yourself or other people. He is the basis for an exciting future. Trust in his timing more than your plans. Seek him more often in prayer.
- “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Serve those who are in more need than you are. Find them. Reach out to them. Invite them. Just as the Lord has met your needs. This sparks emotional satisfaction.
- “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Learn to respond thoughtfully to life’s injustices. There will be trouble. You will feel like a victim. In Christ, you really are a victor.
- “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” Spend time with others who share life with you. Work hard at relationships. Invest in people, don’t isolate from people.
- “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Make peace a choice you believe, not a circumstance you find. Peace starts with each of us. Jesus knew this, and so he blesses you with his own peace first. Live in it, and nobody can take it away.
- “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” These are tough, stressful and even anxious times. But they won’t overcome anyone who resists them with these good practices from God.
Gracious God, you have designed me to experience emotions, and given me the tools to manage them in a way that pleases you and helps others. Forgive me when I fail. Give me the grace to practice emotional health, especially during difficult days. Amen.
Read Romans 12:9-21 as an entire section. What two or three practices catch your attention? Meditate on them. Practice them today.