The battle between head and heart is a common one. This is especially true when trying to make an important decision. The logical part of our existence wars against the emotive, so much so that we tend to minimize our feelings in favor of our intellect, the result is we invalidate the importance of our feelings.
An evangelical counselor once wrote, “To follow one’s feelings, rather than the Word of God, is play into the hand of Satan.” While at first glance, this sounds noble and spiritual. And, as a Professional Pastoral Counselor, I would not place anything above the Lordship of Christ, or the authority of the Bible. But, I don’t believe the intention of this expression is consistent with the Word of God to which the author claimed to align. In fact, the Bible recounts more than a few times in which God’s behavior (and that of Jesus) was correctly influenced by His feelings.
For instance, when God determined that he would destroy the earth by a great flood, it is recorded, “The Lord was grieved that he had made humankind on the earth.” (Gen. 6:6) His grief caused him to send forty days and nights of destructive rain. In another case, when Moses questioned God as to why he had not heard the pleas of the Hebrews living as slaves in Egypt, God replied, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt, I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” (Exodus 3:7) God was calling Moses to be His instrument in alleviating their suffering. In yet another circumstance, God’s anger burned toward His people because of their murmuring and complaining. He turned them around from entering the Promised Land while they were encamped at Kadesh Barnea. The result? The people of God wander another thirty-eight years in the desert.
Many scholars suggest Jesus was motivated by his anger to overturn the tables of the moneychangers in the temple. There He declared, “Take these things away; stop making my Father’s house a place of business.” (John 2:16) He publicly grieved the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:33-36), then brought him back from the dead. He lamented over Jerusalem because the people failed to listen to the profits (Luke 13:34-35). Additionally, Jesus was moved to heal the sick and fed the multitudes after “having compassion on the crowd of people (Matt. 14:14).
Feelings are my spontaneous emotional responses to the events that occur in the world around me. Such an emotional response is associated with, and triggered by, my fulfilled or unfulfilled expectations, as well as my interpretations of events and behaviors. My feelings are expressed in and through my body, and are no less important than my thoughts. They are real. They are often valid. They are to be valued and considered (as part of a larger equation) before decisions are made or actions taken.
As human beings, we are created in God’s image, with the capacity to relate and emote. Emotions are an essential part of our humanness. God’s feelings motivated him to act, and they should be just as important to us. Our feelings serve as a commentary on how we interpret circumstances in the world around us.
So, should you trust your feelings? The answer is “yes.” But, . . . you must be careful to balance your feelings with accurate and authentic interpretations of the events around you. You must learn to listen to both head and heart and bring all things under the authority of Christ and His Word.
The counselors of Daniels and Associates, LLC are experienced in helping individuals like you sort through feelings and find emotional balance. To request an appointment or receive a free 10 minute phone consultation, click the link below.
Adams, Jay E., The Christian Counselor’s Manual, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973, p. 121.
© 2019 by Roger Daniels