The Gift of Feelings
Or we may become very Ill. For some men, the first symptom of buried anger or other negative emotions may be death by heart attack. Others may get ulcers, dermatitis, cancer or any of a score of other symptomatic illnesses that can take years off their lives. For me personally, when I learned to cry again, I was healed of hay fever from which I suffered relentlessly. And when I learned to get in touch with my anger and express it in healthy ways, I was healed of painful bursitis in both shoulders.
Perhaps this is why James wrote, "Confess your sins and faults to one another and pray for one another so you will be healed."1
But you ask, "Is buried anger a sin ?"
God's word says, "If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly for when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil."2 Or as another translation puts it, "In your anger, do not sin."
The emotion of anger isn't a sin. It's what we do with it that is either right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, creative or destructive. Buried anger can turn into resentment, bitterness, and even hostility or rage.
Unconfessed guilt can also make us ill or depressed. David wrote, "There was a time when I wouldn't admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, 'I will confess them to the Lord.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."3
The Purpose of Feelings
Feelings are an emotional barometer. They are an indicator of what is going on in our inner self or mind. For instance, if I lack peace, or feel guilty or anxious, my feelings are telling me that something is out of harmony and needs to be resolved.
Second, warm loving feelings keep us close to and feeling connected to the ones we love the most...and also to God. Emotions also put sparkle into life. People whose emotions are buried are not very dynamic.
Love. . .is a commitment
of one imperfect person to
another imperfect person
regardless of how we feel.
To allow feelings to control us and act them out blindly can be very immature and childish. To be an adult is to feel our feelings and express them in healthy, appropriate and creative ways and thereby be in control of them.
God's Word says, "Surely you [God] desire truth in the inner parts," or as another translation puts it, "You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness. Oh, give me this wisdom.4
What is God saying here? I believe he is saying that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God about both our feelings and our motives. When we be this, we have discovered the key to warm, loving, and close relationships both with our loved ones and God.
When it comes to love, however, we need to realize that it is much more than a feeling. It is also a commitment of one imperfect person to another imperfect person regardless of how we feel. We need to do the loving thing consistently, even though we may not always feel like it. If our feelings are regularly lacking, we may need psychological counseling to get in touch with them and to let our loving feelings grow.
If I am out of touch with my feelings, the loving thing to do for the ones I love is to get the help I need so I can learn to feel their love and so they can feel mine and so that we can relate on a meaningful, intimate, Christ-like level.
In the meantime we need to do the loving thing whether we feel like it or not. This is part of Christian love. But simply doing the right thing is not enough. It is essential that we cultivate a healthy emotional life so we will both act and feel the way God intended us to do.
1. James 5:16.
2. Ephesians 4:26-27 ( TLB ).
3. Psalm 32:3-5 ( TLB ).
4. Psalm 51:6 ( NIV and TLB ).
All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.