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Posts tagged ‘Feelings’

FEELINGS: Keeping Them In or Letting Them Out

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

When The Laughter Ends…

Most of us have some degree of trouble admitting our true feelings and expressing them, especially if we are struggling with life-interfering problems. But throughout the Bible, God encourages us to be in touch with our feelings and to know them. Then, once we access our feelings, He doesn’t want us to keep them hidden inside.

Jesus set an example for us: He had emotions and he expressed them. He cried. He got angry. He was sad. He was extremely concerned and sweated blood in the garden before His arrest.

We often hide the way we feel behind a defense to keep our real selves from showing through. Inside we may feel angry, or fearful or sad. But we hide those feelings by joking … or acting superior … looking important … using sarcastic comments … being silent … deflecting attention to something else … anesthetizing it with substances or food … or employing some other defense. We often try to cover our sadness with laughter, but when the laughter ends, the hurt or loss remains. Eventually, hidden shame and sadness are roadblocks to hope and healing.

An important tip: Hiding our feelings gives them dysfunctional control over our lives. Unexpressed anger, fear, hurt, unforgiveness, bitterness, humiliation, and guilt have a destructive influence on everything we do. Inside we have only a small box to hold these feelings … and it can overflow quickly. When it does, those feelings bleed out and ooze into our real everyday functioning. That is a fact. Often it leads to passive-aggressive behavior.

Your choice is very simple.

1: Express your feelings as they happen, in ways that are controllable, functional, measured, healthy, respectful, and useful to you while they match the situation.

2: while you are trying to hold in your feelings they will start to overflow from that little container you have inside and ooze out in ways that are uncontrollable, dysfunctional, and random, sabotaging your efforts to deal with the situation at hand and hold you back in your psychological and spiritual growth pursuits.

Unfortunately, this last scenario is what usually happens, reinforcing the false belief that expressing our feelings is destructive. So we falsely learn to be afraid of our having feelings, expressing feelings, or letting others express theirs.

Today, ask yourself this question: has your “cover-up” helped? Or have you learned first-hand that when the laughter ends, the grief remains?

Your suppressed feelings will come back to undermine your happiness and relationships. Admitting your negative feelings (in the right way) can be a turning point for you. Be honest with yourself … and with God … and then with a friend. Being real will open the door for healing. Journaling your feelings as they come up is a good step towards having better command over your emotions. Whether you express your feeling in a healthy and appropriate way or you them and they ooze out in dysfunctional ways is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, I’ve been hiding my feelings for a long time, but I know now it’s time to be honest. Help me to be real. Help me to have a better awareness of my feelings and more control in expressing them. Set me free from their grip. Help me,  not be afraid of them, but to see them as Your gift to me. They are my warning system, and a very good warning system. Soothe me and increase my awareness of Your soothing. Help me to share my real feelings with my loved ones, and give me restraint as I express them. I pray in the name of the One whom You sent to be my perfect emotional role model, Jesus Christ – AMEN!

The Truth

Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when laughter ends, the grief remains.

Proverbs 14:13

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26,27

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THE CHOICE: Feelings …. OR …. Truth

SOURCE:  Living Free

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 NIV

Feelings are powerful. Our actions are often controlled by them. And yet, many times feelings don’t match up with the truth as revealed in the Bible.

Our feelings may tell us that no one cares about us. The Bible says that God does. The truth is that God intends good for us (Genesis 50:20). He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and surrounds us with favor (Psalm5:12). He listens to our cry for help (Psalm 22:24). He loves us unconditionally (Romans 5:8).

Our feelings may tell us that no one can help us. The Bible says that God is our deliverer (Colossians 1:13). He rides on the heavens to help us (Deuteronomy 33:26). He rescues us (Psalm 18:17). He listens to our cry for help (Psalm 22:24). He is our refuge (Psalm 91:2).

Our feelings may tell us to give up, that there is no hope. The Bible says that God is our hope (Psalm 39:7). That he is our shelter and strength (Psalm 46:1). He will hear our cry and save us (Psalm 34:17). With him all things are possible (Mark 10:27). We are more than conquerors through Jesus (Romans 8:37).

Are you being plagued by feelings of despair or inferiority or loneliness? Search the Bible for truth. The truth of God’s love for you. The truth of his plans for you. The truth of his promises to you. And then ask him to help you believe the truth more than your feelings.

The truth will set you free.

Father, help me understand and believe the truth of your Word. I thank you that the truth will set me free of doubt, free of fear, free of condemnation. And it will set me free to become all that you have designed me to be. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

 Understanding Depression: Overcoming Despair through Christ by Donald G. Miles, Ed.D.

Thinking –> Feelings –> Behaviors

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC)

Mind Games

To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. -Charles Stanley

If your mind is filled with the Word of God, then it can’t be filled with impure thoughts. -David Jeremiah

Crazy thoughts… we all have them from time to time.

Consuming thoughts… those are the ones that won’t be denied.

Unrelenting thoughts… that won’t let you sleep.

Private thoughts… that stubbornly fuel emotions of lust, anger, fear, sorrow, and even hopelessness.

Infected thoughts… that are often destructive in relationships with those closest to us, even our relationship with God.

“Anxious thoughts (that) multiply within me…” (Psalm 94:19 NAS)

The scary part? When we start believing them. “For as a man thinks within himself, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 NAS)

The antidote? “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

However, we must not miss vs. 8 which begins with the word “Finally”— a word which could be translated “From this time forward”“Finally, (from this time forward) brothers, (and sisters) whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)

That’s a bunch of “whatevers” to think about.

What you fill your mind with will largely determine what type of thoughts you have. What you put in — comes out…

And there is a challenge; the “evil one”, known as the “father of lies”, constantly and consistently bombards our minds. And his mind games become a battlefield.

Paul said we should take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”(2 Corinthians 10:5 NAS)

Knowing it and doing it are two different things.

Speaking of war, when Paul delineates and lists the “full armor of God” used to“stand firm against the schemes of the devil” in Ephesians 6, he only records one offensive weapon — “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (v. 17 NAS)

The spiritual weapon given to us by the Lord, to battle the formation of these debilitating and controlling thoughts, is God’s word.

Flip back a page to Ephesians 5. Paul says that Christ sanctifies and cleanses the body of Christ “by the washing of water by the word” (v. 26 ESV)

Our thought life can, and will be washed clean by soaking and meditating in His written word.

Spend time reading the Bible. Study it. Memorize it. Saturate your thoughts with it. Immerse your soul in it. Drink deeply of its truth. Let the word of God dwell in you richly.

As you do this, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

It will turn your thought life around.

Forgiving Your Spouse After Adultery

SOURCE:  Cindy Beall

Four lessons from my journey of regaining trust in my husband.

Editor’s Note: In 2002, Cindy Beall was a happily married wife to Chris, her husband of nine years. Chris had been on staff with a church in Oklahoma City for only six weeks when he made a confession that would change their lives forever: He had been unfaithful with multiple women over the course of two and a half years, and he was pretty sure one of those women was now pregnant with his child. He also admitted an addiction to pornography. 

His complete inability to control his addiction had left Chris utterly broken, humbled, and repentant. Over the course of several weeks and much prayer, Cindy sensed God calling her to stay in her marriage. The following is an excerpt from her book, Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken, which tells the story of how God redeemed their marriage, making it “better than new.”

Every week I receive e-mails from women who ask many questions about getting through infidelity in their marriage.  Of all the questions I am asked, one of the most common is, “How did you learn to trust him again?”

And every time I give the same answer: “I am still learning.”

I would love to be able to come up with the perfect algebraic formula that shows exactly how to restore trust. But that isn’t going to happen—not because I barely squeezed out of algebra with a 71 percent, but because trust and forgiveness don’t exist in the land of numbers. They are born of God’s grace, mercy, and healing.

You don’t have to have endured infidelity in your marriage to lose trust. Trust can be broken in many different ways. I am still on my journey of having my trust restored in my husband, but I have learned a few things that I hope you will find helpful.

1. Trust means taking a risk.

My husband works hard to regain my trust, but I still struggle. I wish I could say otherwise, but I’d be lying.

Isn’t that the way it is with all of us? I’ve come to realize that we are all capable of doing things we never imagined we’d do. So trusting a person is a risk. We must learn to trust people, but we must also realize that people will fail us. It’s part of life. But if we place our utmost trust in our heavenly Father, we will never be let down.

There is a mental battle going on inside me as I strive to trust my husband more every day. I engage in this battle on a regular basis, and it can be exhausting. But the more I do it and believe what God has shown me, the easier it becomes.

I stand on the one thing that is trustworthy and never fails. I stand on the Word of God. Praise Him that His words are sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). There is power in them, and when we claim them, believe in them, stand on them, and trust in them, we will be lifted up. We will find peace.

2. Replace anger with forgiveness.

We’ve all been wounded. I am no stranger to the pain I see in the eyes of so many people. We can try to cover it up and “get over it,” but if we don’t truly forgive, we will be stunted individuals going about our lives and becoming more and more embittered. Forgiveness is essential. It’s also possible.

The Bible doesn’t mince words when it comes to forgiveness. We don’t have to wonder what our heavenly Father thinks about the idea. He’s the author of forgiveness, and we’d do well to follow His commands. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.”

Ouch. That stings a bit, doesn’t it? Especially when you’ve been wounded by someone you’ve loved as unconditionally as possible. It sounds like a cruel joke to expect us to just let it go, doesn’t it?

Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you know that you have a sinful nature. If we don’t recognize that nature, we won’t recognize our need for a Savior. We also need to understand and remember the true meaning of God’s love. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If we truly understand God’s forgiveness, can we really withhold our forgiveness from those who have hurt us?

3. Stop nursing your wounds.

It can become second nature to tend to our wounds with such care that we begin to identify only with the wound and not with a life of healing or restoration. When something reminds us of our pain, we nurse the hurt and then just can’t get past it. It’s almost as if we forget that we, too, need a Savior. We’re so busy saying, “Look at my hurt!” that we forget to give it over to God.

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sure, I haven’t been unfaithful to my husband physically, but I have committed sins, too. And when we sin, we are not just sinning against one person; we are also sinning against our heavenly Father.

I know how hard this is. I am profoundly aware of how badly my flesh wants to throw my husband’s sin back in his face when he gets mad at me for something small. I know how easily I could remind him of his failures and make sure he knows just how picture-perfect my marital resume is. But reacting like that will never bring about forgiveness.

4. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving.

One of the harder parts of forgiveness is that we don’t always feel like forgiving. The problem is that feelings are often misleading and erratic. I learned a long time ago that you rarely feel your way into positive actions, but you can act your way into better feelings. You may not really want to wake up at five for that morning run, but you do it anyway. Afterward, you are so glad you made the extra effort because you feel good and have more energy. There is great satisfaction in making a choice to do something that your flesh was yelling at you not to do! You acted your way into a feeling.

How to know you’re healing

The results of forgiveness look different for everyone. Some relationships will be mended in spite of betrayal, and some will end because of it. The key, though, is to make sure you are healing from this wound. You don’t want to get a knot in your stomach every time you think about this person, especially if he or she is your spouse.

Here’s one way you can know you have healed from a wound caused by someone else: You cease to feel resentment against your offender. My mentor says, “You know you’ve healed from the hurt that someone else’s actions have caused when you can look back on the situation and it’s just a fact.”

We all make mistakes. We all have done things we regret. We all need forgiveness. And we all need to extend that same forgiveness to others—not just today, but every day.

It’s time to forgive.

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Taken from: Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken. Copyright © 2011 by Cindy Beall.  Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR.  Used by permission.

Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker, and mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, share openly about their journey of redemption through Chris’s infidelity and pornography addiction.

Guilt: Dealing With It and Moving On

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

Action Steps

  1. Pay Attention to the Feelings
    • Guilt, like physical pain, is a signal that something is wrong.
    • Go to God in prayer and ask for insight and wisdom.
  2. Determine the Source
    • Are the guilt feelings because of sin or because of some issues that were out of your control?
    • Seek God patiently. Just because you feel guilty doesn’t mean you have sinned; yet, you may need to let God peel back some layers to reveal a sin long forgotten that needs to be resolved.
    • If the guilt feelings are out of your control, you still need to find a way to resolve them.
  3. True Guilt
    • If you are feeling guilty because you have committed a sin, what steps will you take to receive forgiveness from God?
    • What steps will you take to receive forgiveness from and/or make restitution to the person?
    • If an apology or restitution cannot happen (for example, the person has passed away), then plan a way to deal with the guilt. Suggest writing a letter to that person and providing a “ceremony” of sorts where the guilt can be given to God.
    • Realize that “telling all” can be a way of inflicting more pain on others. Permanent relief from moral guilt comes from God’s forgiveness, not necessarily public confession. The scope of the confession should not exceed the scope of the sin.
  4. False Guilt
    • If the guilt is self-worth related, make a list of all the things God has done for you, including paying the price to save you. (Note: You can help with providing suggestions and scripture to back it up.)
    • Continuing to punish yourself for being human is useless. Do what you can and move on.
    • Good works never erase guilt. —Erwin W. Lutzer
  5. Move On
    • Once you’ve confessed, apologized, and/or made restitution, don’t beat yourself up anymore. Leave it with God.
    • Turn off the mental tape player. Satan, not the Holy Spirit, is the accuser (Revelation 12:10). Satan wants to create feelings of condemnation resulting in unnecessary guilt. Turn him off!
    • Keep a “guilt pot”. Anytime you feel guilt creeping in, write that guilt feeling on a piece of paper and throw it in the pot. (The pot will remind you that God is the Potter, always at work on you, and you are merely the clay—Isaiah 64:8.)
  6. Keep Active
    • Do things for other people.
    • Practice being forgiving in your relationships.
    • By providing encouragement to someone else, you will receive encouragement back and that will increase your feelings of self-worth.

Biblical Insights

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10

Adam already knew he had sinned. He felt that inner awareness of wrongdoing called guilt, given by God as an internal corrective.

It could have brought Adam to repentance and confession. Instead, Adam tried to cope with guilt and shame by avoidance and denial.

As long as we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our wrong actions, we remain mired in sin. Guilt cuts us off from God’s redemptive healing.

God invites us to own our sin and confess it to Him. When we do so, God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” Ezra 9:5, 6

Despite our mistakes and failures, God is willing to meet us at our point of need.

Sometimes we can make amends by specific actions; at other times we must suffer the consequences of our sin. But through repentance, we can experience God’s grace and love.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”John 8:31–36

No truth is more glorious to imprisoned people than to be told that they are no longer condemned but are set free! Christ brings that good news.

Often, however, believers who have been set free still keep themselves behind bars. They feel guilty about their past, or guilty that they cannot be perfect in this life.

Guilt can be good when it helps us to know when we have done something wrong. But guilt can also keep people from being able to rejoice in their new life or to bring others to Christ. That kind of guilt is a prison. We needn’t stay locked up if Christ has set us free.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1

Not keeping the law perfectly leads to condemnation. Since no one can keep God’s law perfectly, all people are condemned. The law brings guilt because people realize they are powerless to keep it.  Christ’s death on the sinner’s behalf, however, sets them free.

If Christ no longer condemns us, then neither should we condemn ourselves.

What Forgiveness is “NOT”

Adapted from:  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) pp. 206-207.

To understand what forgiveness is, we must first see what it is not. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Forgiveness involves a series of decisions, the first of which is to call on God to change our hearts. As he gives us grace, we must then decide (with our will) not to think or talk about what someone has done to hurt us. God calls us to make these decisions regardless of our feelings–but these decisions can lead to remarkable changes in our feelings.

Second, forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgetting is a passive process in which a matter fades from memory merely with the passing of time. Forgiving is an active process; it involves a conscious choice and a deliberate course of action. To put it another way, when God says that he “remembers your sins no more” (Isa. 43:25), he is not saying that he cannot remember our sins. Rather, he is promising that he will not remember them. When he forgives us, he chooses not to mention, recount, or think about our sins ever again. Similarly, when we forgive, we must draw on God’s grace and consciously decide not to think or talk about what others have done to hurt us. This may require a lot of effort, especially when an offense is still fresh in mind. Fortunately, when we decide to forgive someone and stop dwelling on an offense, painful memories usually begin to fade.

Finally, forgiveness is not excusing. Excusing says, “That’s okay,” and implies, “What you did wasn’t really wrong,” or “You couldn’t help it.” Forgiveness is the opposite of excusing. The very fact that forgiveness is needed and granted indicates that what someone did was wrong and inexcusable. Forgiveness says, “We both know that what you did was wrong and without excuse. But since God has forgiven me, I forgive you.” Because forgiveness deals honestly with sin, it brings a freedom that no amount of excusing could ever hope to provide.

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