Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
I recently had a discussion with another about feelings and emotions, what they are and how they ought to be understood and processed. I confess that attempting to understand and process feelings and emotions is an interesting phenomenon in that pondering them as separate from us to be dissected by us is precisely what feelings and emotions are not! Nonetheless, it is still important to consider because though they influence and affect us, they ought not to control us.
The essence of my discussion was that though feelings and emotions may be real and true, they may not be accurate. They cannot be treated as truth or trusted as reliable. They may be, but not necessarily so. They must align with the truth of God’s Word. Stated constructively, as we grow spiritually our feelings and emotions ought to align ever-more increasingly to the truth as we are progressively conformed into the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18).
This is the conclusion stated by Mark Altrogge: Feelings Are Real. But Are They Always The Truth? He writes,
I don’t have anything against feelings. They are a gift from God. But I’m grateful that early on in my Christian life I heard a truth that helped me immensely:
Feelings are real but they are not necessarily the truth.
Feelings are real – we truly experience them. We don’t imagine them. They are real. But they are not necessarily the truth. They may be the truth but they aren’t always the truth. If we believe in Jesus Christ and feel like God loves us and accepts us that is the truth. If we feel condemned or that God has abandoned us that is not the truth.
How do you process feelings and emotions? How do you help others to process them?