Christianity and Emotional Health

    Feb 2, 2022 |

    What the Bible says about pain, healing, identity, self-esteem, worry, anger, and shame.

    Emotions, and emotional people, often get a bad rap in our culture. The common thinking goes, “feelings are unreliable and not to be  trusted.” Emotions seem to ebb and flow with our circumstances, or how well we’ve slept, and even with the weather. But we all have emotions, and they’re given to us by God for a purpose.

    In many cases, our feelings are a signal. They’re telling us, “Hey! There’s  something that needs your attention here!” If we ignore our emotions, we’ll miss opportunities to take action or make changes that could benefit our overall well being.

    #1 Jesus Heals

    Psychologists have categorized our emotions into eight main  categories: anger, sadness, fear, enjoyment, love, surprise, disgust,  and shame. Sometimes we experience these feelings as a  result of traumatic experiences that have caused us a great deal of  distress, and it’s normal to question God or His purposes in the midst of our pain.

    In this week’s sermon, Pastor Chris Amdahl teaches that when it comes to your emotional wounds, you should ask  yourself three questions:

    • Where do you go with your pain?  

    • Do you want to be healed?  

    • What does healing look like for you?  

    We experience emotions because we are made in the image of God— and God is an emotional being (in the healthiest sense of the word).  Tune in to hear how God not only empathizes us during our times of emotional  distress, but also wants us to experience His healing by entering  into His compassion and grace.

    #2 Identity Crisis

    Just about everyone, at some point in their lives, will ask themselves the question, “Who Am I?” Underneath this question are others like it: “What makes me unique?” … “From where, or from whom, do I derive my value?” … “How much of my worth as a human being is dependent upon my contribution to the world?”

    These are questions that focus on identity. Coming to an accurate conclusion of who we are is critical to our mental health. In the attempt to understand who we really are, we can ask ourselves some questions to see if we’re heading in an unhealthy direction:

    • Are you constantly comparing yourself to others?
    • Is it devastating to find out that someone doesn’t like you?
    • Are you constantly wondering what others are thinking about you?
    • Do you feel like you’re behind everyone else in the race to value?
    • Do you spend a lot of time on social media, watching the “highlight reels” of friends and celebrities, and feeling like you don’t measure up?

    In the quest to understand our identity, we can get caught up in creating and maintaining a false identity in order to protect our hearts from our shame, fears, insecurities, doubts — and perhaps anxiety of being seen for who we really are.
    In this week’s sermon, we discuss how the “false self” is built on the foundation of three deceptive ideas:

    1. Performance (I am what I do)
    2. Possessions (I am what I have)
    3. Popularity (I am what others think of me)
    As you might expect, when we fail to live up to these expectations, our sense of identity can take a significant hit. The antidote to the poison of the “false self” is to stay focused on the truth that our true identity comes from being created in the image of God — the God who takes delight in us, who loves us regardless of what we do, what we have, or who thinks well of us.

    When we understand that God is shaping us into the likeness of his Son, only then will we be able to accurately see ourselves for who we are: unique, valued, and precious in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

    Watch the full message above.

    #3 Worry Monster

    It’s natural, and even healthy, to be concerned about “what might happen” in the future. However, when that concern becomes debilitating or paralyzing, it turns into a type of anxiety that not only affects our thinking, but also our ability to function well.
    Our natural reflex when anxiety hits is to go into “control mode.” This is when we get preoccupied with all the possible variables that could impact the outcome we dread — and then try to influence all of them.

    Some examples of this might include: “I’ll pull some strings to make sure my kids do what I want them to do,” or, “I’ll do whatever it takes to get ahead at work,” or, “I’ll put all my time and energy into making money so I’ll be able to buy the solution to my worries.” The bottom line is that in those times, we’re allowing ourselves to be driven by fear.

    On top of that, the reality is that so many things are out of our control that all the influence, energy, or money in the world will not guarantee the outcomes we want. However, when we focus on our intrinsic value to God, fear is slowly displaced by love, and our anxiety diminishes.

    While it’s true that many awful things can, and do, happen, God assures us that He will not abandon us to those losses. Trusting God in the face of uncertainty doesn’t mean that He’s going to prevent what we’re worried about, but it guarantees that no matter what happens, He’s going to experience our emotional pain with us, and then walk the path of healing and recovery alongside us.

    Tune into this week’s sermon to learn more about how God journeys with us through our worries and trials, and how you can take steps to place greater trust in Him today.

    #4 Angry Heart

    Anger can be a powerful emotion. It can cause someone to speak out against an injustice, or lash out in violence. It can compel someone to push for the reform of an unjust system, or seek to assassinate anyone who disagrees. It can cause us to fight for and protect our relationships, or destroy them in an instant.

    One of the purposes of our God-given emotions is to provide us with a signal that something needs our attention. The sudden or gradual presence of anger in our spirits is a signal that an injustice has occurred, and needs to be exposed and addressed.

    In the New Testament, we’re told to, “be angry, but do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). In this week’s sermon series, Pastor Chris Amdahl outlines how we usually deal with anger and explores healthier ways to use this dynamic emotion in redemptive ways. Are you a spewer, stuffer, or leaker? Tune in to find out and learn how to harness your anger for good.

    If that person will not budge, we resist the temptation to take matters into our own hands (which is revenge), and continue to seek resolution with appropriate accountability (which is biblical justice). In the New Testament, we’re told to “be angry—but not to sin in our anger.” There’s no need to be a spewer, stuffer, or leaker when it comes to expressing our anger—instead, we can use this dynamic emotion assertively in redemptive ways.

    #5 The Guilt and Shame Cycle

    According to Brene Brown, social researcher and author, “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Shame says you’re unacceptable, unlovable, and unworthy.

    There is a big difference between shame and guilt: the focus of guilt is behavior; the focus of shame is identity. Guilt says, “I made a mistake,” shame says, “I am a mistake.” Guilt says, “I did something bad,” shame says, “I am something bad.”

    Legitimate guilt is a healthy emotion when it signals to us that we’ve unintentionally or deliberately disobeyed God—and we need to own up to the damage that our destructive words and actions caused. Wrestling with a vague sense of guilt that we can’t tie into any specific words or behaviors is a version of shame that has no redemptive value.

    Once we’ve become aware that we’ve been rationalizing our unhealthy behaviors, we confess those sins to God, look to Him for mercy, and receive His forgiveness. However, when guilt is allowed to linger without acknowledging our specific misdeeds, this emotion often turns into shame and can begin to eat away at us.

    Watch this week’s sermon to discover what the Bible says about guilt, shame, and God’s redemptive grace that can set you free from both of these life consuming emotions.

    #6 Bitterness of Sorrow

    Sorrow is the feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other suffering.

    It is that feeling of sadness that comes when there is loss: losing a loved one to death or watching a prodigal child wonder. It could be the loss of not being able to tuck a child in to bed at night because of divorce. Sadness comes when a season of our life comes to a close whether that is saying goodbye to a job we have loved, or sending our children to college knowing that they will never need us the same way again. Sorrow comes when we have such high expectations for something in the future and then it never happens. Sadness comes when someone we love disappoints.

    Here is some important things to keep in mind when we’re facing a significant loss.

    1. Grief & sorrow are real emotions that need to be fully embraced. When you minimize the losses you’ve experienced, it magnifies your pain. Better to face the discomfort head on that to try to convince yourself that what you’re experiencing is really no big deal.

    2. The bitter fruit of sorrow is needed for a balanced perspective in life. There are some things we simply will never grasp until we experience deep periods of grief.

    3. God heals the wounds of a broken heart. While grieving may last for a season, God wants us to move toward healing.

    Let’s always keep this mind, especially during times of deep sadness …

    Joy will return. Once a loss is fully grieved, it loses its power over us. When we reach the point of acceptance and healthy resignation, it no longer matters if we remember what happened.

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