By Hannah Nelson – Associate Pastor – Kids and Families
Deal with the Feels
I was listening to a sermon one time about being thankful and something that the preacher said stuck in my brain. “Deal with the feels”, he said. It was so profound for me that I actually texted the phrase to myself so that I would remember it. I tend to be a person who is driven more by my emotions than by logic. I process my decisions in light of how I feel (though it is not my only compass). I said to my husband recently that I relate to the character of Mantis from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”. She feels so deeply what others feel, that it’s almost as if she went through the experiences with them. I relate so much to that. I cry when others cry, I laugh when others laugh, and so on.
But this phrase, “deal with the feels”, goes deeper than that. Even if you are not primarily driven by emotions, you most definitely are not lacking in the feeling department. We respond to situations with feelings, and it’s how we interact with those feelings that help determine our emotional health. As human beings we have been created to have emotions. We were created in the image of God. It is evident in Scripture that God expresses sorrow, anger, joy, pride, jealousy, etc. God, being perfect and holy, is our model for how emotions are a healthy part of our existence.
Through this pandemic I have had a range of emotions from disbelief, to anger, to sorrow, to pity, to fatigue. For the most part I thought I was dealing well with all those feelings. I was spending time in prayer, talking with close friends and family, reading the Bible, and practicing self-care as much as I could. But, really, I was just doing a bunch of griping and complaining about the situation. I wasn’t really “dealing with my feelings”, instead I was parading them around like a badge of honor. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I was venting to my husband and he said, “you need to take a break”, that I realized I needed to properly “deal with the feels”. Allowing unchecked unhealthy emotions to fester in my heart had begun to turn me into a complainer. That is not who I want to be! So here I am, taking time to process how I feel, to check it against what Scripture says my attitude should be, to make an adjustment, and focus on what brings joy and encouragement to me, and to those around me.
It is selfish of me to remain in a state of disgust or frustration. That attitude seeps out of me, even when I don’t mean it. That attitude affects my family and friends because it changes how I treat them and speak to them. My life is not just about me. In fact, it is primarily not about me! My life should be focused on Jesus and living out what He told us, to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39).
I would venture to guess that most of us have been experiencing an array of emotions over these last several months. Have you taken time to reflect on how the pandemic has affected you? Have you spent time with God, read Scripture, really taken time to allow the Lord to reveal to you how He wants you to respond? Take time to “deal with the feels”. Even if it’s hard or uncomfortable. You need to take care of your emotional health, your well-being (and your friends and family) will be the better for it.