Flourish or Perish
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7v10 ESV
Part of repentance is to express what we feel to God & others. Which requires admitting to ourselves what we really think & feel. Even healthy, godly grief unexpressed can turn into unhealthy worldly grief with regret. However, this is not just true of grief but of all emotions. For godly emotions to remain so they need to be expressed and for worldly emotions to be processed & dealt with they too must be expressed as part of turning to God (repentance).
By definition emotions or feelings must be expressed in some form or way. An unexpressed emotion is a suppressed & therefore incomplete emotion. The only alternative to emotions being expressed is for them to be inverted in on our-self. That is for them to become focussed on & centred upon ‘self’ rather than God and others. This is the exact opposite of what emotions are for. They are for us to feel internally what is going on externally. Not to obsess with ourselves, but to delight in God and care for others. This is the difference between godly grief and worldly grief; godly emotions and worldly emotions.
Sometimes we use the phrase ‘you hurt my feelings’. I would like to suggest that often when we say this or something similar it is actually our pride that is hurt. It is our concept or perception of ‘self’ that has been wounded. The identity & glory I attribute to myself has been challenged and it is this that I feel.
So, it is best to be as specific as we can when we express our emotions both positive & negative, so we can see what we feel and why we feel it. What is healthy & godly and what is unhealthy & worldly; what is appropriate & fair to feel and what is inappropriate & unfair to feel.
Phrases like: ‘I feel sad that…’ ‘I feel happy about…’ ‘I love that…’ I feel bitter about…’ ‘I feel disappointed that…’ are far more specific and helpful than ‘my feelings are hurt’ or ‘I’m upset’. Let’s find helpful ways to express our negative & positive, godly and worldly emotions, and live without regret as we more fully turn to God in Christ. Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62v8 ESV).