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About Jolene Underwood

Jolene Underwood is a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. As a result of living through various trials, she writes from a place of compassion for wounded believers. She draws upon her personal journey towards emotional health, her psychology background, and a passion for Christian counseling to help others cultivate a life well-lived and a soul well-nourished. Jolene writes regularly at JoleneUnderwood.com. She also leads a community of writers called Rise Up Writers. Her new tool, Unleash : Heart and Soul Care Sheets, has helped hundreds experience greater freedom. Chat with her online via Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest at @theJoleneU or via the Cultivated Life Newsletter.

Jolene Underwood

Jolene Underwood
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Jolene Underwood is a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. As a result of living through various trials, she writes from a place of compassion for wounded believers. She draws upon her personal journey towards emotional health, her psychology background, and a passion for Christian counseling to help others cultivate a life well-lived and a soul well-nourished. Jolene writes regularly at JoleneUnderwood.com. She also leads a community of writers called Rise Up Writers. Her new tool, Unleash : Heart and Soul Care Sheets, has helped hundreds experience greater freedom. Chat with her online via Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest at @theJoleneU or via the Cultivated Life Newsletter.

Are Your Emotions Lying to You?

#thoughts #fear #spiritual growth #feelings #anger #emotions #myth #anxiety #struggle # #improvement #awareness #Christian beliefs

My face squinted and I stopped short when I saw it. The blog post title said, “Emotions are liars.”

Although this phrase sparked head nodding conversation with others, I couldn’t agree to it. Something struck dissonance. I wasn’t able to verbalize why, just yet, but I knew I wanted to write my own blog post about why emotions are not liars. They are informers.

Months later, I also stopped short when scrolling through Twitter. I hadn’t interacted with Marc Schelske on social media before, but something got my attention this time. Marc was looking for supporters for his new book, The Wisdom of Your Heart. 

Two immediate thoughts occurred.

  1. I love to support other writers and authors. Maybe I can support this book.
  2. Doesn’t the Bible say, “The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately sick; who can understand it”? {Jeremiah 17:9} Maybe I can’t support this book.

Sill, I clicked through to learn more. The sub-title definitely intrigued me. Discovering the God-Given Power and Purpose of Your Emotions

I wondered what this guy had to say about emotions and what they tell us.

The Wisdom of Your Heart 3D

Every misgiving I had disappeared once I read the book. I devoured chapter after chapter on my Kindle, wishing I had a paperback copy to mark with highlights and notes. Since then, I’ve recommended it to several others and it’s been purchased by just as many men as women I know.

In the last couple of years, I’ve read a lot of books on emotions, emotional healing, emotional maturity, and how emotions tie to spiritual growth. I’ve also learned more about the way our brains work when it comes to the storing of emotions and emotional responses. This has been part of my healing and growth. It’s also awakened my dormant pursuit of Christian counseling and psychology studies, thus fueling my passion to help others become emotionally healthy as a part of their spiritual growth.

With all this learning, I was somewhat skeptical about reading anything new in The Wisdom of Your Heart.

I was wrong.

Sometimes being wrong is good.

Because of this book, I was able to better understand why that phrase about emotions being liars didn’t resonate with me. In the early chapters, Marc addresses four common myths Christians have about emotions and the first one is, emotions always lie. He says,

“…our core emotional responses are not lies. They are almost always telling us something true and important about our inner landscapes or outer circumstances.”

My passionate plea to all believers is to let the work of God continue in their lives beyond the point of salvation. I see so many Christians living stuck in ways I’m all too familiar with. One way is by reducing Christianity to head knowledge and deeds, void of dealing with any difficult emotion. Another, is to let difficult emotions cripple them from taking active steps of faith.

Emotions don’t need to take over our lives, but they must also not be ignored. They are God-given and play a vital role in the whole of who we are as image bearers.

Facing difficult emotions gives us an opportunity to reflect on our inner world. When we do so in partnership with God, and we respond to the work He wants to do in us, we find His power transforming us from the inside out. Thus, life long change occurs.

I get why people say emotions (feelings) are liars. I do. When we experience difficult emotions, like anger, hurt, sadness, anxiety, depression, we usually have thoughts that coincide with them. We need the truth of God to speak louder than the negative playlist in our heads. Those thoughts are part of the narrative that speaks untruth to our souls and our thoughts impact how we feel.  Thus, we need to renew our mind daily as Paul says in Romans 12:2. This helps us from a downward cycle of difficult emotion, destructive thoughts, more painful experiences and less freedom, then more difficult emotions.

However, it is important to understand that the emotions are not what’s untrue. Even though our filters for understanding them is often unclear and sometimes destructive.

The process of experience – emotion – thought – action seems like one fixed event. Therefore, if we feel angry because someone cut us off on the highway, we might believe that the feeling is what lies to us when we think things like, “that jerk!” In this case, our response is an unhealthy response. But the feeling of anger isn’t what’s lying to us. It’s the narrative thoughts that follow and the underlying beliefs we already hold.

Marc says the emotional response sequence is really more like four separate but connected events. He explains further in the third section of the book which talks about the neuroscience and physiology behind emotions and action.

These topics aren’t always easy to consider, because we all want to avoid difficult emotions. However, when we take the time to lean into what our emotions are telling us, we find a God who is transforming us.

I could go on, but I’m going to stop here. Marc and I talked a whole lot more in the interview below. He shares his story behind the book and I share some of mine as it relates to emotional unhealth. We also talk about how Christians respond to one another during times of emotional distress and how we can do a better job of listening and loving.

Learn about emotional maps, myths, our emotional God, what happens physiologically when we experience certain emotions, how we can lean into the underlying issues going on internally so real growth can occur, and the tools Marc provides to help Christians grow emotionally healthy.

You can watch it on YouTube or listen to the audio version on my original blog post. 

Before you go, don’t forget to enter the giveaway on the blog! Marc has graciously offered to send out TWO copies of his book. 

Whether you win or not, you won’t want to miss his FREE valuable resources found on his websites listed below. 

 

Cultivated Resources:

  • Marc Schelske’s Blog
  • The Wisdom of Your Heart Site – Click on the top where it says “Click Here for Book Resources” and you’ll find loads of additional content to coincide with the book. Includes; infographics, small group discussion prompts, video teaching and more.
  • Do Emotions Lie? – Information secular article by Psychology Today.
  • Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets – uncover more about the thoughts and feelings you’re having and process them with God in a way that fosters healing and growth

Untangling Shame and Humility

#humility

I have the privilege of being tested by my own words.

Ouch.

Sitting here in front of the computer, tapping out a bunch of thoughts, isn’t as easy as it may sound. In addition to the brainstorming, praying, writing, re-writing, deleting whole sections, self-editing, and second-guessing, there’s the whole resiliency mixed with authenticity factor.

Do I mean what I say and am I saying what I mean?

Will I stand firm with my words and beliefs or will I let the opinions of others pluck my feet off solid ground?

Shame and Humility

I write about sometimes heart-heavy things, but please know this. I do not stand isolated on an island to say what the ocean dwellers must do. Rather, I’m right there swimming in the deep with you. Looking for Jesus’ gaze so we can walk on water again, because he calls us forth and asks our faith to remain fixed steadfast with him.

There are days when my heart shakes with the realization, even as I type, that the very words I share are the ones God is sharing with me. These moments cause me to step back in prayerful consideration. They lead me to sort through the lies which level a heart with the weight of condemnation, from the conviction of truth which begs the beginning of transformation.

Today’s choice ruffles me, because words spoken over the years have begged me to question myself in ways that are both unpleasant, but helpful. And not.

Like this weekend. I’m one of the living room session leaders at the Brave Women’s Conference for the topic, “Brave to Take Care of Your Self”. I’m in the midst of another hard leg of my life long journey and wondering “Am I taking care of my self in healthy ways?” “Am I being selfish in doing so?”

Somehow, two words got all mixed up and jumbled together. To see clearly what one means and the other does not, well, it’s taken a whole lot of heart searching and I’m still wading in the water. Maybe right next to you?

Humility.

Shame.

They are so very different, yet they intertwine in ways which choke. They simply must come apart if we want to live well.

Humility is not arrogant or proud. It recognizes the low position we have in relation to the almighty wonder of our Creator God. A humble heart rightly recognizes the righteousness of God and the great need of man, for God, in all the things.

Shame feels disgrace for feeling low. Shame painfully asserts that we are not who we think we ought to be.

Sometimes, this can be a good thing. When we are not acting as we ought, nor living in ways which honor God, shame reminds us we want to be something we are not yet.

Often, shame destroys our sense of self by regarding a low position as one of dishonor. In this place, we tend to get stuck.

Humility always builds up a sense of knowing our low position is honored by God. The last shall be first.

While shame tends to bring death of some kind, humility brings healing because we come to know who we really are in light of God being who He is.

Great freedom arises in this place.

Admittedly, I have a lot of work to do in these areas. Both growing in honest humility and in rejecting the destructive forms of shame and how it makes me hide.

We can begin by choosing humility. As we’ve chosen the Holy Spirit, we choose to let the Spirit prompt our heart in the areas where we can seek to accept our true position.

Our true position is identified by God and laid out many times, in many ways, throughout scripture.

Consider Romans 12: 3 (Oh, why not read all of Romans 12? Yeah, go ahead! It’s packed full of goodness.)

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of yourself than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith God has given you.

We are to think with sobriety. Not under the influence. We are not to think too highly, but also not too lowly. A sober mind thinks clearly. Rightly. We are to think honestly about who we are. The standard bearer of truth in this matter is God and his Word.

Even our shame can turn into the thing which draws us towards the heart of God if we allow humility to lead it there. As we choose to accept our position, we come to know our need more. Step by step, we can take a journey to living with greater humility every time we say like Jesus,

“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” ~ Luke 22:42

Fore more of the 31 Choices We Can Make to Live Well series, click here.


What if We Chose the Holy Spirit Over Our Selves?

#spiritual growth #Holy Spirit

Today is a day I wish never existed. It’s one of those days where it seems like all the stops have been pulled out and everything within you wants to shake your fists at very same God whom you long to adore.

Ever been there? Would you admit it?

Part of me clings desperately to hope, while another part wages war with the way things aren’t how I want them to be. I want to tell God I’ve prayed enough, believed enough, and had enough faith for him to act in the way I expect.

Choose the Holy Spirit

This kind of day is not the first for me, nor will it be the last. If you’ve have had one of these kind of days you know how they can knock you off your feet and make you think your foundation has crumbled.

If your foundation is the rock of Christ, it hasn’t.

If it is shifting sand, it was bound to give way eventually anyway.

When we try to stand firm on the remnants of all the ways we’ve tried to do things on our own, we’ll find ourselves collapsing. We become tossed to and fro and drown in the storms of life.

When we let those remnants of self and pride wash away with the tide, we find the solid rock beneath our feet. It is there for us to stand on and it’s centered in the eye.

That’s where I am today. Asking God to let the sand wash out while steadying my feet firmly in Him. I’m thankful to have many choices, because living out of a belief that you don’t have any choices limits you from seeing the plentiful fruit just waiting to burst forth.

In wondering what choices to focus on for today, I keep coming back to this: the Holy Spirit.

Choose the Holy Spirit.

Because the Holy Spirit is how God’s manifest power, wisdom, comfort, and courage can be found in each believer. The Holy Spirit was left by Jesus to be our helper.

{Read John 14 & 15; especially John 14: 16,17,26 & John 15:26}

The Holy Spirit equips us, encourages us, and edifies us. His presence in our lives enables us to find that solid rock, to stand firm on it, and to see that the sun will indeed shine again.

Have you put your life in God’s hands? Have you turned away from the sin which breaks fellowship with God? Do you trust Him?

If so, as a Christ follower you’ve chosen to follow Christ and his ways. Following isn’t always easy and sometimes it’s downright gut wrenching.

Anytime self gets in the way of the Holy Spirit working, self takes a beating. When we choose to let the Holy Spirit accomplish his work in us, self gets a reshaping. It’s painful too, but the end result is far more beautiful and incredibly powerful.

Reshaped spirit’s display more of the image of God in greater fullness and beauty. They experience more of the peace, joy, and freedom God has for us.

I want more and more. For me and for you. The pain of being pruned now is worth the bountiful fruit to come.

Many of you are walking through painful circumstances right now. Many are wondering how to get through today, tomorrow, and the years to come. Many are wondering how to make a decision when all your visible paths seems dark and treacherous.

Invite the Spirit to help you. Ask the Spirit to guide you. Don’t expect a mystical guiding in the way portrayed in media, in fact, don’t place expectations at all on what the Spirit can, should, or will do. God does not acquiesce to our assertions.

Invite.

Wait.

Trust.

Ask.

Respond to the nudge.

Those nudges sometimes feel like a little prick of discomfort which we want to ignore. Choose today to pay attention. Ask what it is there for. Seek God’s Word today and find out if what you’re sensing is in line with the truth of who God is and how he works.

I can’t tell you what the Holy Spirit wants to say to you today, but I can tell you the Spirit is present. I can tell you that God has something for you in this challenging time and the outcome is better than you can imagine, as long as you choose to let the holy, perfecting work of the Holy Spirit happen deep within your heart.

Oh friends, I can’ help but write with passion and vigor. I can’ help but plea for the hearts of all who call themselves Christians – allow the hard work to happen. What if we all did? What change might we see in the world around us?!

So many of us are longing. We are desperate for answers and solutions. Yet, we ignore the nudges in our souls day after day. We let our hearts grow hard and refuse to leave room for God’s presence, even though we keep asking for it.

We can’t continue this way. The only way to see ourselves freed from our areas of stuckness is to choose the way of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, time and time again.

You can do this.

The Holy Spirit will never be defeated and He is with you.

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14: 15-18

~~~~~

For more of the 31 Choices We Can Make to Live Well, click here.  Share your favorite posts with a friend or two and invite them to join us. I'd love to connect with you further via the Cultivated Life Newsletter & subscriber only community.