I Have Learned … Dealing with Difficult Feelings and Emotions

Note: I first published this post in May 2015 – but because so many people report having some of their most difficult times after Christmas as they go into the new year, I thought it good to share it again.  I share it from a Christian perspective …. because Jesus Christ really is “where my help comes from”… but  He is there and offers the same help for all who will come to Him.

So… I share this post about “dealing with difficult feelings and emotions” with compassion in my heart – because that is an area that used to “eat my lunch” – so that I very well understand how those things feel – and the way that they can negatively affect everything you need to do.  BUT this is one of the  “I have learned” things in my life…… not that I am always 100% perfect the minute I recognize a feeling I don’t like,  or an emotion that hurts – but I have learned what to do – and when I rise up and do it,  those things do not control my thinking or my day.

First of all, you must understand this – EMOTIONS CANNOT BE IGNORED! We struggle to get away from them – only to find that indeed they are still “with us” – they cannot be ignored!….. BUT fortunately –  they can be “TURNED”! …  I’ll show you an example of that in the Word of God……

I Samuel 30:1-19 (Paraphrased)  After being away for three days, David and his men returned to their place at Ziklag – only to find it burned and their wives and children all carried away captive……. “Then David and the men that were with him lifted up their voice and wept – until they had no more power to weep.” …..then came another “turn for the worse” ….. for David…..

“And David was greatly distressed – for the people spoke of stoning him – because the soul of every man was grieved for their wives, sons and daughters.. …..( which is not too surprising as people in deep grief often divert some of that grief to “assigning blame” for what has happened.) …. So that David who had suffered as much loss as the rest of them – now faced still another crisis…..  But the way that he chose to handle the mounting crisis is the thing that made ALL THE DIFFERENCE for him. 

So, what did he do?  Verse 6 says “David was greatly distressed… but David….  but David did what? – “But David encouraged himself in the Lord!!  To give you a better idea of exactly what David did, I will give you the definition for the Hebrew word “encouraged”…..  It means:  “to fasten upon – be stubborn, strong, courageous – which, by so doing – is causative to heal, cure, fortify, strengthen, or repair a situation….. David CHOSE to encourage himself in the Lord….. and the Lord obviously began to influence the situation so that the men who wanted to stone David in their grief begin to think differently….

AND – David prayed –  he inquired of the Lord saying -“Shall I pursue after the troop/this enemy? Shall I overtake them? And the Lord answered him “Pursue; for you shall overtake them – and without fail recover all”!   We then read the report of the outcome in verses 18,19 ……  “And David recovered all that the enemy had carried away –  there was no person nor spoil of what had been taken that was not recovered……. David RECOVERED ALL!  Of course that is what was important to David and his men……

But for us today, I am pointing to THE REASON  he was able to recover all the loss – which, of course, was that he fastened his eyes on God – David steadied himself in the midst of his distress – and looked to God for help and direction.  In the same way, when we are confronted with challenging or hurtful situations,  we have a choice to either “embrace” the negative feelings and emotions that often accompany those situations – and let them” swallow us up” – OR – we can begin to encourage ourselves in the Lord so that we can think and hear what He would say to us more clearly…….

HOW do you do that??  I am going to just list some ways I have learned that work for me   (and everyone of them you will find in God’s word)……

First, pray anything that you know to pray if a person’s safety etc. is involved. Also, forgive anyone that needs forgiveness – do this by faith – feelings follow.

  • Begin to give thanks for different things/ways God has helped or blessed you.  (This has nothing to do with what you feel like at the time – for basing what you do on feelings and emotions is like building a house on shifting sand.) You give thanks because God is good and offers help and deliverance to those who look to Him.
  • You might put on music that lends to worship – and deliberately focus on Jesus and the deliverance you have already tasted by His hand. Get into worship!
  • You can start speaking to yourself in psalms and hymns – sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord – with thanksgiving for every good thing.  (Ephesians 5:18-20)
  • Speak God’s word as scriptures come to you. (God’s word has the power to change things and to accomplish what He sends it to do.)
  • Pray in the spirit quietly – and continue in these things until your mind and emotions have quieted….. which will lend to hearing any scripture or words of direction the Spirit of God would put in your spirit for you at this time.   (Jude 20,21)

Setting yourself to do any of those things will have the effect of turning negative or painful emotions.

In the beginning, I found it hard to “make myself” say what I “didn’t feel” – but over the years I have learned to not go so much by what my mind or emotions are saying at the moment – but rather to choose to take Jesus up on His invitation to come to Him with all your cares and let Him give you rest.  Once I established myself in choosing to not embrace the negative feelings – but to labor to turn those emotions, I have seen a change happen in less than 5 minutes, but that’s not always the case – and you need to stay there with God until you have quieted your mind and let Him have some time to touch you.  Then if there be a valid reason for any of those negative feelings, He WILL show you – because He delights in our well being – the well being that comes from walking in the truth.

God bless and keep you.

 

 

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