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Happy vs. Holy

I work with many clients in individual, couples and family counseling who are experiencing various struggles: depression, anxiety, grief, difficult relationships. I hear their desire to just be happy, to escape the struggle. Our culture puts a lot of value and focus on being happy. Advertising caters to that idea as does technology; we should have what we want and be happy. What if, as believers in Christ, we followed His example and chose holiness rather than happiness? What if happiness wasn't our main goal of the day and we instead chose to heartily pursue His holiness in our hearts? What would life look like? Might we embrace our struggles and find how they make us more like Him? Might we experience increased and lasting joy rather than momentary, fleeting happiness? In various other veins I have addressed this topic before in an article here and in blog posts here, here, here and here. A client shared with me this article recently and it captures this point so well. Take a moment to read; it's not too long! 

Choosing Christ over Feelings

I work with a lot of clients in my counseling practice who are in very difficult situations. Some are grieving, some are broken and hurting, some are suffering. Some have lost loved ones, some are in difficult marriages, some are facing bullying or difficult relationships. Some struggle with self harm, anxiety, depression or anger. Weaved through all the Christian clients I see, as different as their circumstances may be, is a common theme we discuss and work towards: choosing Christ over our irrational feelings. Their feelings may be telling them to hurt their bodies, to leave their spouses, to engage in an extra-marital affair, to escalate to panic, to dwell in depression or to lash out in anger. I talk with my clients about whether they will allow those feelings to make their decisions and to influence their actions or whether they will engage their will, their spirit and the Lord in their actions, behaviors, thoughts and decisions. This is a difficult task for all of us but so important if we are going to live righteous, healthy lives. Our feelings are important; they are part of how we were created. Christ had feelings; He expressed grief, anguish, sadness, joy and happiness. Feelings are not bad! Feelings shouldn't be judged; they are what they are and that is OK. However, when we act solely based on our feelings without incorporating our will, intellect, spirit and rational thought is when we can get into trouble. We must consider Christ and dialogue with our feelings. It begins with acknowledging the feelings and then understanding their role. Accepting the feelings is an important piece; trying to push them away or deny them won't help! Why are the feelings there and what are they needing? Next you engage your will, your rational thinking and determine what those parts of you think (key word - think) about those feelings. Then the feelings and thoughts dialogue together to determine what is the healthiest next step. All the while, I encourage believers to be engaging Scripture and prayer in this entire process. We must slow down. Act, instead of react. Choose to engage Christ, rational thought and your will rather than simply letting emotions take charge and lead the way. Emotions are important and should be payed attention to. There should be other things we pay attention to also, not just our feelings. If this process seems difficult for you, seeking out Christian Counseling can be a great way to gain insight and coping skills that will help you to choose Christ, righteousness and health in your daily life!