God Creates Us with a Full Range of Emotions

“Hello! I am calling to inform you that your child has been exposed to COVID-19 and needs to be put into quarantine.” As I listened to the instructions, I quickly jotted down notes about the next steps we needed to take out of precaution for COVID-19. My first thoughts went straight to how this third quarantine was going to impact our child. In a normal season of life, this child rolls with the punches so well. She transitions well to new things and is eager to tackle new challenges. With the lingering impact of COVID-19 now stretching into almost 2 years, I am noticing as a society, many of us, have a lingering level of weariness which isn’t going away. (Although I am reflecting on this conversation from last fall, and not a recent quarantine, my hunch is that most of my readers have experienced a very similar situation at least once and possibly multiple times like our family has.)

In the past, many of us handled challenging situations by putting on a brave face and tried to stuff down the uncomfortable feelings of stress and focus on the good parts of our experiences. Somehow I came to the misconception that if I was fully following Jesus: praying, reading my Bible, and following through with what I was learning through my words and actions that I could create a life that experienced mostly  “good” emotions. I wanted to create a life of joy, happiness, and peace, and wanted to do whatever possible to avoid the “bad” emotions of grief, anger, and fear. Then I started reading the book Are You Really Okay? by Debra Fileta. This book really made me pause and reflect, and helped me gain a true Biblically and emotionally healthy perspective for how we can use our emotions to inform us, but not derail us.  . 

David, who is referred to as a man after God’s own heart, not only experienced a full range of human emotions, he also wrote extensively about his emotions and experiences in his prayers and praises through most of the Psalms. Recognizing that God doesn’t make mistakes, and that He created us with a full range of emotions, makes me pause and think about why God created us with emotions. Emotions aren’t the villains in our stories. How we interpret our emotions to make decisions in our lives is what defines us. When we pause to acknowledge how we are really feeling, we can process the emotion in healthy ways. This helps us to notice and name our emotions, but not allow our emotions to define us. We can ask ourselves, “why am I experiencing this emotion?” and “how can I channel this emotion for good?” 

If I say “I am mad,” then I give the emotion “mad” the power to define who I am as a person. My feelings begin to lead me to actions. If we change our wording to “I feel mad” then the emotion becomes something we can notice about ourselves. Then we have the power to learn from what the emotion is telling us and choose how we want to react based on this feeling. 

Sometimes when we notice what our emotions are telling us, we don’t like what we are feeling. We might feel a bit out of control and unable to stop the emotions from leading us into choices we would later regret. When our kids feel out of control, we can help them calm their central nervous systems by taking some deep breaths and drinking a glass of water. If that doesn’t fully work, try taking a brisk walk outside in the sunshine. It’s amazing how God’s creativity of forming the sun with it’s vitamin D rays could be beneficial for our emotional health. (If you are like me, you might be skeptical. The strategies seemed too simple to work. But these strategies can be effective. I encourage you to try them for yourself!) 

If naming the precise emotion is challenging for your children to pinpoint, check out Plutchick’s wheel of emotions. (Tip: I have this chart printed in color and in a page protector, so that when I am working with kids to help them name their emotions, the chart is more durable and can be sanitized easily.) Once we name the emotion, we can process through healthy ways to work through what is causing the emotion and brainstorm ways to calm down our central nervous system.   

Would you like to learn more about becoming more emotionally healthy? I encourage you to check out Debra’s book and podcast on this link. Let’s keep this conversation going. What other strategies have you found successful with empowering children to work through their big emotions?

4 thoughts on “God Creates Us with a Full Range of Emotions”

  1. Thank your for the reminder to be totally honest with God-He can handle all of our emotions because He created us and the emotions: the good, bad and everything in-between. And, just like this mama loves to hear from her girls, God wants to hear from us. Love the strategies, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Emotions aren’t the villains in our stories.” – this is such a true statement and powerful thought. I think I’m learning more as a mom about the importance of asking for forgiveness whenever I lose my temper. Asking for forgiveness doesn’t equal a free pass but it does hold me accountable to be mindful of the emotions I am feeling, the power I let them have over me, and encourage me to move forward in a way that honors God instead of following my own desires in the moment. Oh how I want to be a better model of this for my children.

    Liked by 1 person

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