We’ve all been warned that bottling up feelings can lead to an ugly explosion. This is wise advice because chronic stress can also lead to more than just an embarrassing outburst.
The CDC estimates that stress accounts for about 75% of all doctor visits. Among other things, these complaints include headache, back pain, heart problems, digestive issues, sleep problems, exhaustion, and accidents (1).
On the flip side, manageable stress can cause us to be more productive, hone in on true priorities, and make needed changes. Like the whole of life, finding balance is key.
Through my lens as a Jesus follower, I wonder how being honest with God about our feelings might help us learn from the array of emotions he’s equipped us with, rather than have them continually heap on more pain.
Holding in Emotions
At some point in young adulthood, holding in emotions became instinctive when I didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable emotions. If I couldn’t face the pain, summon the drive to peel back layers, or perceive a space safe to air it all out, I opted to walk away. I believed I could quite literally flip the switch on caring or not caring about any issue I chose.
I recently began my journey with emotional healing at an energetic, cellular level and it totally changed how I approach uncomfortable emotions. I’ll discuss that at the end of this post but to summarize for now, it’s important we know that just as there are varying levels and sources of stress, there are also countless ways we deal with uncomfortable emotions. When emotions are not processed, our body absorbs that negative energy, deeply impacting the wellness of our mind, body, and spirit.
So how do we get it right? And can being honest with God really give us a secret weapon for the healing and prevention of stress-related illness?
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3 Steps to Being Honest with God for Healing
Step 1: Emotional Acceptance
Though initially, Emotional Acceptance may sound like Step 2 of Holding in Emotions, the two are in direct opposition!
Emotional avoidance is holding in emotions without learning or processing. It works okay temporarily, but is a destructive long game. Avoidance assigns a big value to a negative emotion, giving it undue power and control over your life.
Emotional acceptance is essentially taking notice without reacting or resolving. There is probably one feeling, maybe anger, sadness, or fear, that you most wish to avoid. This avoided emotion is likely what drives your biggest reactions though you’ve worked hard to cope by looking (or running!) the other way.
Acceptance is simply saying, “I feel afraid”. Experiencing the sadness, acknowledging its presence at this moment, and absorbing the emotion without trying to apply an immediate fix is actually far more beneficial than avoidance. It is not a quick fix, but it is a giant leap to our end goal of being honest with God and receiving healing.
Benefits of Emotional Acceptance
- Accepting the tough emotional truth of a situation provides familiarity with patterns. We have the freedom to make informed decisions on what is needed for management and eventual healing.
- Acceptance is empowering. We see we are able to walk through deep waters without being swept under, pass through flames without being consumed and survive a valley of death (Isaiah 43:2 NIV, Psalm 23:4 NIV).
- Acceptance negates any power the emotions hold over your life. Here on the Gulf of Mexico, we’re well versed in what to do if caught in a rip current. Fighting the current is a dangerous, losing battle. We know to take a deep breath, let the current sweep us out, gain composure, and swim around the dangerous area to the safety of the shore. Accepting the presence and power of this great danger, and behaving in the way we’ve been trained even as children enable life-saving victory.
Avoidance eliminates each of these opportunities.
Step 2: Yield to God
Emotional acceptance uncovers things we’ve buried. The next step is to yield those things to God.
Even holistic Christians, those who set intention upon inviting God into every part of life, struggle at times being honest with God when it comes to emotional discomfort. No matter how wild and unruly our emotions seem at times, we must remember we have access to much greater power!
He wants every good thing for us, mind, body and spirit. How can we expect to be made complete when we attempt in vain to section off portions of ourselves? Such a waste and on the flip side, limitless freedom awaits in surrender!
“Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
and you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way,
and in kindness you follow behind me
to spare me from the harm of my past.
With your hand of love upon my life,
you impart a blessing to me.
This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible!
Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.” ~Psalm 139:1-6 (TPT)
Being honest with God sounds a tad unnecessary after reading this passage from Psalms. There is nothing we can keep secret from our Creator. Intentionally yielding our heart and our emotions and all of our go-to methods to God, allowing for divine uprooting and replantng, this is our continual sacrifice.
When we yield to God, we accept our need, receive grace and shush all our self-sabotaging beliefs.
Choosing to yield to God gives Him room to work in and through us! THIS is the switch we need to find in the dark. Not shutting off our care, but coming to terms with how deeply we feel. Then we can fully submit it all to our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Eternal Father, our Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6 HCSB)!
Guide for Yielding our Emotions to God
- Acknowledge that your thoughts and emotions shape your outcome.
- Give negative emotions and negative self-talk over to God.
- More than likely, you know exactly where these uncomfortable emotions originated. If not, dig deep asking for courage to see the situation, people involved and all of the emotions through God’s eyes of love and mercy. Pray for the ability to forgive. Yielding to God frees you to see yourself (and others!) the way God does.
- Invite God to show you how to take these thoughts and emotions captive, diminishing their power (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). He’s called you as his co-worker and wants to build you up strong (1 Corinthians 3:8-11 HCSB)!
Read more on taking thoughts captive through powerful daily affirmations.
Step 3: Ask for Wisdom
James 1:5 tells us that if we are lacking wisdom, all we need to do is ask God in faith and he will pour it out generously.
As we yield our uncomfortable emotions to God, we’ll likely see ourselves and others in new light. We may become more sensitive as to what triggers the uncomfortable emotion. The Holy Spirit will remind us what we know to be true about God, which may highlight something new we need to yield. Handling uncomfortable emotions, yielding them day after day requires perseverance.
The work is worth it to access this spiritual growth and address with clarity physical issues that have resulted from stress. If you find the process of healing is more elaborate and requires expert counsel and care, take those steps and trust that He will order your steps for getting what you need.
Releasing Emotions Stored in the Body
Over the past few years, I’ve begun using Flower Essences. I began with Bach Rescue Remedy for anxiety but initially had no idea what flower essences were! I just knew it was a plant-based method that worked to soothe anxiety. I was especially impressed with how well it worked for my son. Similar to our steps of being honest with God for emotional wellness, he could step back, see triggers, and feel more in control. It was literal gold!
Flower Essences Healing
Medications and talk therapy certainly have their place and their benefits and have undoubtedly saved countless lives. These modalities can sometimes, however, miss out on showing us how to heal.
When I learned about what flower essences are – the vibrations of flowers captured in water and preserved in order to transmit their specific benefits to our bodies at a cellular level – I was intrigued! Floored really, because doesn’t it sound a tad bizarre to our modern minds?
Plus just the terms “vibrational healing” and “energy healing”, can raise flags for Christians. This is because we know our spirit is to be protected! If this isn’t for you, that’s okay. There are many ways to improve your mind, body and spirit wellness.
Conversely, one does not have to be spiritual or fully aware of how flower essences work for them to be beneficial. I didn’t know they were a method of energy healing to start, and my son didn’t know the mechanics of the lozenge that beautifully calmed his anxiety, but it worked all the same.
I’ll be taking a deeper look at flower essences and the intersection of energy healing and Christianity soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out Freedom Flowers. I’ve recently trained with them as a Practitioner and love the intersection of faith and energy there!
Being Honest With God
God is not offended by our humanity or our “ugly” feelings. No matter how we feel, God is faithful to beckon us closer. Being honest with God about feelings can be tough at the start, but God is our ever-present help! An authentic relationship with God leads to authentic healing of our mind, body, and spirit!