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Building Better Relationships — Week 6 Reflections

August 27, 2006

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I missed the Bible study last week due to being out of town for Sophia’s medical test, so now I’m trying to catch up before this week’s final session. My thoughts come together in a more coherent fashion when I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the chapter with the other women in the group, but a few key points struck me as I read this chapter on “Befriending Our Emotions.”

First, the author points out that our emotions — even negative ones like anger and fear — are God-given. Emotions, in and of themselves, are not bad. It is how we respond to and handle those emotions that can be detrimental. I had to smile as I read this because just yesterday I sent Sophia to her room after she kicked Trevor (who — not unlike his mama — raises sibling aggravation to an art form). When she came out, I told her that it was okay to be angry with Trevor but that it was never okay to hit or kick someone because you are angry.

It’s always nice to know that I’m doing something right as a parent, but I have to wonder why I never tell myself that it’s okay to be angry. Usually if I find myself angry with someone, I beat myself up over it, often breaking down in tears, because I don’t feel like I should be angry. This chapter has helped me realize that I need to accept all of my emotions. And as the author points out:

“We need negative emotions. Fear keeps us from taking foolish risks. Depression may signal a need for withdrawal and rest. Anger is an indicator of possible problems. These emotions are signals, like red lights blinking on the dashboard of a car. They call us to stop and “lift the hoods” of our lives and let God examine us until we find out why we are experiencing these emotions.”

When Cain and Jonah expressed anger (Genesis 4:2-8 and Jonah 3:10-4:11, respectively), God did not chastise them for their feelings, although he did ask them why they were angry. God wanted them to talk with Him about their feelings; this is a Biblical example of what we should do when faced with negative emotions.

The other key point from this chapter dealt with our response to the emotions that other people express. As Dan learned in Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, validation is very important. No one really wants to hear that they shouldn’t feel the way they do, that their feelings are unrealistic or silly. How much better it is to respond with sympathy than judgment, correction, or criticism! As it says in Romans 12:15 — Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

And again, this relationship rule can and should be applied to ourselves. We shouldn’t waste time telling ourselves that we have no right or reason to feel X (angry, jealous, afraid, resentful), but instead spend the time in prayer and examining why we feel X.

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