We’ve all been there: maybe you’re exhausted after the end of a long work week, or maybe you’re having problems with a relationship that you treasure. Or maybe you’re just so tired from spending so many hours caring for an elderly parent or several little ones.
The idea of finding some rest sounds great to you. Sitting on the sofa and binging on pizza, a box of chocolates and Netflix sounds like a perfect way to relax and relieve some of the tension in your life.
But what if you do those things and it’s not enough? Or perhaps it’s enough temporarily, but then you find yourself starting to fray again from your frazzled life.
Perhaps what you need is something deeper that can sustain you through all those rough patches that we sometimes find ourselves in life. What you need is refreshment from the Dayspring. What you need is emotional renewal.
What is emotional renewal?
Emotional renewal is reestablishing a proper balance with our emotions so that we can function and stay the course.
You might wonder, aren’t emotions dangerous? Doesn’t the Bible tell us to guard ourselves from becoming too emotional? Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
Yes, the Bible is wise to warn us to watch that we should be mindful of where our emotions lead us. Following our emotions can sometimes lead us to do things we might otherwise regret.
But sometimes there’s a tendency for us to hide or suppress our emotions because we’re afraid of falling prey to them. We might think emotions are illogical responses that need to be squashed. Or maybe think we’re too emotional, and so we fortify ourselves against feeling too much in an effort to prevent us from succumbing to sin. And yet in both situations, we suffer because hiding our emotions or running away from them prevents us from placing our emotions before God.
God cares about our emotions because they were part of his design when he created us. The Bible is full of emotional responses: God delights in us. Jesus weeps. God’s people shout in praise.
How do we renew our emotional selves?
You might think that finding time for emotional renewal means going on a weekend-long spiritual retreat, but you don’t have that luxury. Rest assured – There are still plenty of opportunities to find refreshment. Here are some guidelines:
Talk to God throughout your day. If strong emotions come up during your day, let God know what you’re thinking. Even if God doesn’t give you an answer immediately, the act of talking to God about your emotions sends a signal to yourself that you’re not hiding your emotions from God. You’re allowing Jesus to be present with you as you go through whatever strong emotions you’re facing.
Schedule a time during the week to have an extended time with the Lord. You might need to schedule an extended time – 10 minutes, half an hour – to pray about your emotions so that you can sit and give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to renew your emotions.
Meditate on a verse or a Bible passage. Remind yourself that God can renew your emotions.
One favorite passage is Hosea 6:1-3: Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; no he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”
If necessary, talk to a friend or a clergy member. Or take a walk. Sometimes God calls us to renew our emotions through talking with others or engaging in a physical activity. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings of how God wants to renew you emotionally.
Have faith that the Lord wants you to be restored in all aspects of your life: spiritual, physical and emotional. May we be thankful that Jesus loves us so much that he cares deeply for our emotional well-being.