Bad Feelings Can Be Good For You

Listening to Anger

Listening to our anger, as my pastor recommended, involves asking ourselves why we are so angry. Anger is not always sinful: anger can clue us in to responding to situations crying out for God’s justice and mercy.

According to author Harriet Goldhor Lerner, “Our anger may be a message that we are being hurt, that our rights are being violated … or that our beliefs are being compromised.” Jesus experienced deep and appropriate anger (for example, John 11:33). It is simply not true that the Christlikeness means permanent calmness.

However, not all the anger we experience is godly, and listening to our anger may reveal places where we have disordered desires and misplaced loves. Taking the time to ask why we are so angry that we didn’t get that promotion or that our ex-love is now dating someone else may reveal selfish ambitions and insecurities we would otherwise not have seen.

Mature discipleship allows anger to show us areas God would have us confess and bring to Him for healing and growth.

Examining Feelings of Jealousy

Jealousy plays an important role in revealing our hidden loves. “No one can serve two masters,” said Jesus (Matthew 6:24).

We may believe we are fully committed to God and have eschewed all other loves, until a situation develops and the green-eyed monster reveals something beneath the surface.

Disappointment, properly weighed and handled, can do much to mature us in loving our mysterious God and marred people.

Jealousy taps into our fears and insecurities about losing people or things we love. It may only be when we find ourselves jealous of a relationship, or a vacation, or a new car, that we realize we either love the wrong things, or perhaps love the right things but in the wrong way.

Reckoning With Disappointment

Listening to our feelings of disappointment is a crucial step in learning the secret of contentment which Paul spoke of in Philippians 4:12. We often tell ourselves to “shake it off” when we experience disappointment, but the feelings can be pervasive and highly destructive to relationships if left unacknowledged.

Taking the time to attend to feelings of disappointment does much to reveal our unspoken expectations: we are disappointed when what we thought or hoped would happen does not.

Examining those expectations is important if we are to be people of robust faith and enduring love. If we do not acknowledge our disappointment that God did not come through for us as we thought He should, we would not learn the grace of lament as the Psalms do, or cultivate the ability to sift between that which God has actually promised and what a bumper sticker told us He might.

Similarly, acknowledging disappointment with our loved ones can sometimes reveal where we have expected them to fulfill needs they were never meant to meet, or to be people that God did not make them to be.

Disappointment, properly weighed and handled, can do much to mature us in loving our mysterious God and marred people.

Disciples of Christ are not to be people mastered by our passions, but we should be students of them. Putting aside jealousy, anger and bitter feelings requires more courageous work than pretending they aren’t there. Instead, we should acknowledge them, learn from them and allow them to form part of the impurity-burning and shaping process we undergo in the hands of our faithful Maker.

Credit:  Edited // Relevant Magazine

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