30 Things I’ve Learned About Emotions


Our emotions change nearly as often as the nighttime sky, but God’s truth never changes. Paula Hendricks Marsteller shares 30 great insights about emotions.

Last month I watched the movie Inside Out with three girls, a bucket of popcorn, a package of Butterfingers, and a box of Nerds.

The movie raised a lot of questions for me about emotions; questions I still don’t have the answers to. But here are thirty things I do know about emotions (in no particular order):

  1. Our emotions affect our health.
  2. Surprisingly, letting others “in” when you’re feeling sad seems to forge friendships much faster than if you appear to have everything “together.”
  3. We have the ability to feel because God feels, and we’re made in His image.
  4. Your emotions don’t have to control you.
  5. God acknowledges that there are things that are truly frightening, and then He tells us not to fear them because He is with us (1 Peter 3:6).
  6. PMS is real, but it’s not an excuse to sin. Prepare for it. Track your cycle so you know what to expect, and pray accordingly.
  7. Joy isn’t simply an emotion; it’s a fruit of the Spirit of God.
  8. It’s a beautiful thing when a guy is willing to show emotion from time to time.
  9. God cries. Jesus wept (John 11:35).
  10. Tears are not a weakness.
  11. It is better to cry than to hold it all in.
  12. It’s okay to be angry . . . if you don’t sin.
  13. Anger is rarely righteous (James 1:20).
  14. Examine your emotions often. They’re excellent indicators of what you’re believing, which—if you’re like me—you’ll often need to repent of and replace with truth.
  15. Let a few trusted friends know when you’re struggling. Ask for prayer. It will help!
  16. Just because you’re a “feeler” doesn’t mean you can’t also be a “thinker.” Don’t let people pigeon-hole you.
  17. There is only one reason we can “not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6). The answer lies in the last part of verse five. (Thanks for this insight, Paul David Tripp.)
  18. True joy is found in God’s presence. Therefore, you can be happy anywhere, even in a nursing home! (I’ve never forgotten you telling me this at Applebee’s years ago, Maria Johnson.)
  19. There’s time to have fun, but it’s also important to be serious (1 Peter 5:8).
  20. Sadness won’t kill you. It is okay to feel sad. In fact, good can even come from it.
  21. Once you’ve suffered and been comforted, you’ll be better equipped to encourage others in similar situations (2 Cor. 1:3–5).
  22. Emotions change nearly as often as the nighttime sky; God’s truth never changes.
  23. Cutting yourself is not the answer to the inner pain you feel.
  24. Piano keys are a great, safe way to express your emotions.
  25. Know yourself well enough to know whether you need to be with people when you’re feeling emotional or whether time alone would help.
  26. Sugar only makes you feel more crazy.
  27. It’s wise to keep your mouth shut when you’re feeling especially emotional.
  28. At the same time, if you’re struggling with your emotions, let those around you know that if they “see” anything on your face, it’s not them; you’re just having a rough day. (Thanks for this, Wes Ward.)
  29. Those who don’t feel deeply wish they could. Don’t hate your emotions; God can use them for good.
  30. There is no Comforter like God (2 Cor. 1:3, John 14:16).

What else have you learned over the years about emotions? And what questions do you have about emotions?

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