Preparing for the Journey: the Importance of Emotion
Suppose you were lying in your bed one night and were abruptly awakened by an unusual noise in the next room. If you believed the noise was caused by a burglar attempting to break into your house, you may begin to feel fearful, anxious, or panicky. If you were brave enough, you might sneak out of bed, creep up to your bedroom door with baseball bat in hand, and peek outside. What if you discover that the noise wasn’t made by an intruder, but rather by your mischievous dog rummaging through the kitchen trash can looking for a nighttime snack? What would you then feel? Relieved? Calm? Peaceful? Thankful? Perhaps a little angry at the dog?
Emotions Follow Belief
Why did this shift in emotions occur? The circumstance didn’t change, but your interpretation did when you realized the truth. You might also notice that it required no more effort to feel peaceful and calm than it did to feel the earlier panic and fear. Both were spontaneous and natural. Your emotional state changed because there was a transformation in what you believed. When our belief changes, our emotions will change to match what we believe. When we know the truth with our hearts, we will walk in genuine and effortless transformation. This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This is also the goal of every TPM session, and this is our desire for you.
No one or thing makes us feel anything that we feel.
It is common for us to falsely believe that other people or life circumstances are the reason that we feel badly. How many times have we heard one person saying to another, “You make me feel so ________?” The truth is, nobody and nothing can make us feel anything that we are feeling. People can be unjust, mean, and cruel, but they cannot make us feel what we feel by doing what they are doing. Someone might say, “It is only normal to feel bad when bad things happen.” I agree that this is what we normally do, but it doesn’t mean it’s God’s desire or design for us.
God has designed us to feel whatever we believe.
It is by God’s intent that if we believe lies we will feel what the lie feels like. Pain is intended to alert us to something being wrong. If we step on a thorn we want our foot to hurt. When we worry, feel anxious, feel alone, fearful, etc. we are feeling what we believe and need to look and attend to what is wrong. When we believe the truth we will feel what the truth feels like. This is all by God’s design.
The Bible is very clear about what we should feel and not feel in the midst of our difficulties. For example, we are told in the Scriptures to “be anxious for nothing…” and that “… Perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18). Jesus said, “Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25). So if we are feeling anxious, worried, fearful, or any of these negative emotions then it is an exposure of our belief and not “normal.”
So why do we feel all these negative emotions and not feel joy and peace? The Bible says that the proper emotional response to life’s trials and difficulties is joy, gratefulness, and exaltation. We are told to “Rejoice in all things…” (1 Thess. 5:16), to “give thanks in all things…” (1 Thess. 5:18), to “count it all joy when we encounter various trials…” (Jam. 1:2). and to “… exult in our tribulations…” (Rom. 5:3).
Troubles are Difficult to Sidestep
We cannot avoid the troubles that we will certainly experience while living in a fallen world. Jesus said “… in this world we will have many troubles…” (John 16:33). Nevertheless, what we feel in these places is not due to the troubles and difficulties, but to what we believe because of the way we have interpreted them. It always goes back to our belief.
If it were true that what we feel is because of the actions and behaviors of others, or what has happened or is happening to us, then there is no hope for freedom. We also cannot change our past, nor will we likely change those around us, and we have little to no control of our life circumstances. Furthermore, no person or object can control or dictate what we will feel in the midst of them. But it is certain we will feel whatever we believe.
We can choose to change the scenery, but it is only a matter of time before what is inside us is exposed and brought to the surface. We can run away, but when we get there, our self will be there; the true problem goes wherever we go. Our belief is the problem.
Jesus Provides the Perfect Model
Jesus gave us the perfect example of this truth on the day He was crucified. When he was arrested, flogged, and eventually crucified, he was not feeling what might have been expected. There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that he ever felt angry about his circumstances, stressed, fearful, worried, anxious, or any of the emotions one might have expected. Rather, the Bible says He was like a lamb being led to the slaughter (Acts 8:32).
Without question, he would have felt the physical agony in His body as he was tortured and abused. But there is no indication that he felt fearful, anxious, helpless, powerless, anger, out of control, etc. The Scriptures reveal that He was fully aware that all that was happening could be instantly halted by Him asking the Father to intervene (Matt. 26:53). Nothing was occurring that he was not willing to bear. He was in total control at all times.
There are only two places during this time where it is recorded in scripture that Jesus felt any negative emotion, and both times were because of the truth. One was in the Garden as He pondered the truth of what the Father was asking of Him. The belief that He would take on the sins of the world and be separated from His Father was agonizing beyond our comprehension. However, this was the truth and not based upon any lies.
Rarely do we feel negative emotion because of the truth. After over twenty years in my (Ed’s) own journey with TPM, not once have I been able to identify a negative emotion that was actually truth-based in my own life. There were many times I wanted to believe that I felt what I felt because of something or someone in my life. But thus far, 100% of the time, my negative emotion has been caused by my lie-based interpretations and not by anything else. I do encounter truth-based pain in other people’s lives from time-to-time, but this too is rare.
The other time in Christ’s final days that He expressed negative emotion was when He cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” In this moment he felt alone and forsaken of God. Again, this was the truth. The good news is, because of this, we will never be forsaken or abandoned by God. He has promised to be with us always and at all times. If at anytime we feel forsaken this is because of a lie, and is not the truth.
Peter the Apostle wrote this concerning the Lord’s response to His suffering: “… since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously…” (1 Pet. 2:21-23).
“Why are you afraid?”
Remember the story of Jesus and His disciples out on the stormy sea in their little boat being overtaken by the waves? The disciples woke the Lord from His sleep and cried out, “Lord, why are you sleeping, did you not know we were about to die?” Jesus response was, “Why are you afraid?” Or put into TPM terms, “What is it you believe right now that is causing you to feel afraid?” They believed they were about to die. Jesus believed something else. The truth that Jesus believed allowed Him to take a nap in the bow of the boat (Matt. 8:25-27, Mark 4:35-41).
So we see different people in the same boat experiencing the same life situation. Yet, one is napping while the others are fearing for their lives. Like the disciples, we also feel whatever we believe.
We Feel Whatever We Believe
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