Why Did God Give Us Emotions? Pt 3

A grandmother and granddaughter walking in a park.

After Maria and Nannygranne finished breakfast, Nannygranne grabbed her jacket against the morning chill, and they headed for the nearby park.  

Nannygranne said, “I still have to be intentional about my emotional health, Maria. These walks are one way I do that.  I also try to practice God’s way written in Philippians 4:8 to think on good things.1  Light always makes darkness disappear.  Darkness cannot exist where there is light.  So I try to aways turn on the light.2

Marie frowned. “Do you think I’ll ever learn to turn on my light when my moods try to swallow me up?”

Nannygranne assured her, “Yes. But at first I think you’ll feel all these new emotions very strongly until you get used to them and they don’t scare you so much.  Give it time and don’t feel alone.  We women have all sailed that ship on life’s oceans and can help out.  When the seas are rolling, you steer into the oncoming waves, whether from ahead or behind.  When the storm rages, you tie yourself to the boat and do all you know to do till it passes.  Then you adjust your sails and get back on course.  Sometimes the sea is sparkling, and the wind in your favor, and you sail right along, steering in the direction you want to go.  Then other times, the sea seems to sleep, glazing over, and the wind disappears.  Those are called the doldrums.  That’s when you have to paddle or start your engine.  Otherwise, you’ll stay in one spot and die.”

“Wow.  Then the ocean is your emotions?  You just have to ride it out?”

Nannygranne laughed and shook her head. “I guess I got carried away with my ocean illustration. I probably need to explain better.  The ocean is your life.  So many things in life aren’t in our control. However, we can choose our boat and our Captain.  Our emotions are a little like the weather.  We can’t always choose our emotions, but we can forecast them. But, unlike the weather, we can manage them.  For my ocean of life, I’m choosing the very best.  My boat is named Christianity, and my Captain is God.  The Bible is my compass; the Holy Spirit, my navigator.  Heaven is my North Star, and study and prayer my ship’s log.”  

Nannygranne sat on a park bench and patted the seat beside her. “You see, Maria, emotions are gauges, not guides— thermometers, not thermostats.  Our emotions report to us; they can’t be allowed to rule us.  We are moved by our emotions, not led by them.  Do you understand what I’m saying?”  

“I’m trying to.  Like the guy said in that movie, Fireproof, don’t just follow your heart because your heart can be deceived—but you gotta lead your heart.1  But you said there is more?”

“Exactly! And, yes, there is more.  Our emotions are a type of bridge between our soul and our body.  Sometimes the power behind our emotions travels from our spirit to our bodies.  Guilt can make us sick at our stomach.  Fear can make us tremble and our hearts race, even break into a sweat. That even happened to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was begging God to save the world a different way.  The Bible says His sweat was like drops of blood.”

 “I’d forgotten that,” Maria whispered. “Wow!  Jesus does know what it’s like for things to be intense.”

“That’s an understatement.  Jesus completely understands you when you feel the way you hate to feel.  And the Holy Spirit can help.  So please don’t take it too hard.  You can know for sure that God understands and is not disappointed in you.  He wants to help.  And sometimes He will just sit with you and help you cry, knowing it will pass.”

“Then what about the emotions animals feel?”

“Well, having emotions and understanding and managing them are two very different things.  Dogs’ emotions come from survival and social instincts.  Dog trainers caution us that dogs think like dogs and not as people think.  If they feel ‘guilty,’ it’s because they dread punishment, whether it’s from their master or the lead dog in their pack.  Does that make sense?”5

“I guess so.”  

“You and I can understand our emotions and also have the ability to manage them.  Like you said, ‘Don’t just follow your heart…you’ve gotta lead your heart.’  But dogs just feel.  They follow their hearts.  They can’t lead their hearts.”

Maria pondered for a moment.  Then: “Sometimes, I think dogs have better hearts than some humans.”

Nannygranne nodded. “Dogs are deeply social, but once abused or attacked, they don’t forget.  They aren’t able to love and forgive when their instinct is to run or fight. But God has given you and me this unique part of Him.  Agape love is a decision, not a reaction.  But we could learn a lot about loyalty from our dogs, that’s for sure.”   

Nannygranne’s mind went to so many broken families and abandoned and aborted children in the human race.  She prayed silently, “God of the Universe! How can You love us when we kill our own? We desecrate Your image in us, yet You still want us.  Glorious is Your love! Amazing is Your grace!”  

Jerking her thoughts from that shadowy path, she smiled and invited Maria to head for home.  Maria, matching her mood, joined her.

Nannygranne lifted her face to the sun. “The ocean of life is sparkling today, don’t you think?”  

Maria’s hair danced to the breeze, and her steps were light.  For now, her ocean was sparkling, and her sails billowed in the sun. But the next time clouds gathered and the waves crashed on her sea, Nannygranne prayed this blossoming young woman could trust her Captain a little more, and hold on tight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Phil 4:8 “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”

2Luke 11:36  “See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

3  “…You’ve got to lead your life.” https://youtu.be/5TMivbLwJ6E

4  “…drops of blood.” Luke 22:44

” Where humans and dogs differ is in the development of the frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that is associated with higher-level reasoning – executive functions that control behavior and thoughts.” 
Read more at 
https://wagwalking.com/sense/can-dogs-think-like-humans

Author:

I am a mother, grandmother, nanny, and writer—with a passionate concern about children, all children. With the help of my son Travis (who has a graduate degree in apologetics) I hope to share some thoughts that will be helpful to all who have the same concern.

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