Have you ever seen the Disney movie “Inside Out”?
It’s an animated movie about a 12 year old girl’s five basic emotions. Each emotion influences all of her actions on the same control console. The main emotions are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. The only problem is that Joy is the one who really runs the show. She’s the one who makes sure that all of the girl’s memories stay happy, and she works hard at trying to keep Sadness isolated so that the girl stays happy through every situation.
Joy fights so hard to keep everything perfect, she ends up getting lost with Sadness. Anger and Fear end up taking over, and the girl runs away from home. But in the end, Sadness is the one who has to save the day. To remind her that she misses her parents and her home. The end of the movie shows Sadness and Joy equally working together toward healthy emotions.
Why did I waste your time explaining a kid’s movie to you?
I think if most of us could choose our emotions, we’d pick one. Joy. Happiness. Because honestly, the others feel like crap. I hate feeling sad. I hate being angry. All of the other emotions feel so out of my control, and they just don’t feel good.
I lash out at my kids because of anger.
I retreat from other people because of fear or sadness.
I just want to stay in the places that feel okay. And if I’m honest – when I’m sad, frustrated, confused… it feels like something must be wrong. Like I can’t possibly be close to God because all that He is encompasses joy, freedom, and peace.
The thing about it is that God made us in His image, but we are not Him. We are human, with human emotions that He created for a purpose. There are plenty verses in the Bible that support the fact that we’re emotional beings.
“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth… A right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer.” [Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4]
“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” [Romans 12:15]
God is also clear, though, that we should have self-control, and that we don’t sin when we’re caught up in our emotions.
So what’s the balance? What are we supposed to do?
Our job is to allow God into our emotions.
The good, the bad, the ugly.
There are more steps than this, but this has to be step one.
I think that what happens to most of us is that we’re trying to control the switchboard of our emotions. We work hard to shut down the ones that could possibly bring about sin, or bad memories, or ones that we just don’t know what the heck to do with. When we stuff down the things we’re naturally supposed to feel, they find their way out. And we find ourselves in a spiral of emotions because they bubble up all at once when we aren’t ready.
You know the times I’m talking about. Where you’ve felt emotions try to rise up; you feel them for a second and then shut them down. And then suddenly your spouse your your kid says one wrong word – and it’s all out.
Ever wonder why we use the term “word vomit?” You can’t control vomit! Ew. The word is so gross. Sorry, but it is what it is. It’s something you want to keep down, but your body has to get it out in order to be healthy.
It may come out like word vomit. Or cry vomit. Possibly the anxious or yelling kind of vomit. And most likely, all of the whatever-vomit comes out, and you’re sure God is unhappy with you.
But here’s what God has to say about you. Even on your worst, whatever-vomit day:
[Adapted from Psalm 139]
I created all of you. Every part. Everything on the inside and the out. I very carefully knitted every part of you together before you were born. I made you so wonderful and so complex. Nothing in this world can copy what I have done in you. Don’t despise the parts of you that make you different; maybe more emotional than others. I gave you compassion and a heart to feel for a purpose. It wasn’t a missed step that just gets you in trouble. Let Me guide you through. The negative things you feel are not always out of My will. They just might be a road map to guide you exactly where I’m trying lead you.
Trust Me with your fear. Trust Me with your worry. Your confusion, the emotions that don’t even bring any explanation. The moments that don’t feel helpful or godly; I want to be in all of them.
I care about your fears and your successes. I made you exactly the way you are, and I want to highlight each miraculous piece of you. Let Me.
Let Me search you, your heart, your anxious thoughts that lead you away. I’m ready to lead you if you’ll let Me.
Each emotion we have has a specific purpose, intentionally given to us by God. The more we ignore the feelings we don’t exactly like, the more we’re shutting out pieces of God’s design in us.
Pain and sadness give us connection, depth, and empathy. Anger brings about justice and righteousness (when we use it right). Healthy fears keep us safe and responsible. If we only ever stayed happy, we’d forfeit the most beautiful parts of what make us human.
So let it out. Let Him in. And let Him lead you in ways everlasting.