Jolene Underwood is an emotional health warrior, and soul care mentor. She writes from a place of compassion for wounded Christians to encourage and equip them in a life of spiritual growth with emotional health. She draws upon her personal experiences, her psychology background, and a passion for Christian counseling to help others cultivate a life well-lived no matter the circumstance.
Jolene writes regularly at JoleneUnderwood.com. She also leads a community of writers called Rise Up Writers. Her tool, Unleash : Heart and Soul Care Sheets, has helped hundreds experience greater freedom. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her enjoying the journey by laughing with loved ones or adding to her collection of vintage glassware with a 70s flair.
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.
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.
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.
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.