Steps to take on the path toward emotional health: identify, ask “why?” and purify

By Mim Hurst

As a pastor, I genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of people. I desire to see all of us walk in wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. In order to walk in wholeness, we must be free from bondages and baggage that slow us down. We can’t neglect even one aspect of ourselves and expect to be whole. We need to invite Jesus to be Lord of every aspect of our lives. That includes giving our emotional wellbeing to Christ.

As busy people, we tend to plow through our lives, getting things done and taking care of situations that are screaming the loudest. We seldom take time to pause and analyze why certain feelings are rising up within us. We are emotional beings. Emotions play a big part of who we are and how God has designed us. We shouldn’t try to suppress our emotions; God created us to sense and feel. Our emotional being reflects the nurturing part of God, and it would be detrimental to those around us if we were to shut that part of ourselves down. We just need to learn to manage our emotions in a healthy way.

In my younger years, I found that my emotions fluctuated a lot. I could be having a great day, feeling super happy, then suddenly find myself depressed, angry, or grouchy. It could be instigated simply by a comment someone made that I perceived as offensive. While some of this could have been blamed on fluctuating hormones, at other times I think it was due to unresolved issues in my life. I truly believe that some of these imbalances came from unhealed places in my heart that caused me to be overly sensitive.

When a wound on our flesh is touched, even gently, we feel significant pain. But when the same wound has healed, we can aggressively rub it and feel no pain at all. Emotional wounds within us work the same way. The more inner healing that I experienced and the more God healed those emotionally wounded places, the less offended I became. I grew more secure in knowing my worth without basing it on the validation of others.

Through time spent coaching and counselling people on how to manage their emotions, I have developed a three-step plan to help us process our emotions in a godly way and gain healing. The three steps are identify, ask “why?” and purify.

1. Identify

Why do we need to identify our emotions? Identifying or acknowledging is always the first step toward freedom! Just like someone who is dealing with an addiction needs to acknowledge that they have a problem, so an out-of-balance emotion needs to be identified as a problem. Unidentified emotions keep us stuck. Emotions will lose their power over us when we identify them and find their roots. Satan would like nothing more than to keep you in bondage to your emotional swings. If he can keep your emotions unidentified, he can keep you in bondage and you will not walk in your true identity.

Sometimes people don’t even know how to give a name to a feeling. They just know that they feel lousy inside and they don’t know why. Some common negative emotions include feeling out of control, loneliness, sadness, anger, depression, anxiety, fear, or feeling offended, stressed, or jealous. Perhaps one of these could be the name of an emotion you have felt. By naming it, you will be able to start overcoming it.

2. Ask “Why?”

Asking “why?” helps you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, examining a chain of events. Look back over your day and try to analyze why, even though one minute you were feeling great, something shifted and all of the sudden you became fearful or angry. Below are some questions you can consider.

  • Why was I so happy today? Was it because I felt productive?
  • Why did I get so mad when I was late to work? Was I fearful of looking bad?
  • Why did I yell at my kids for no reason? Did I feel like I was losing control?
  • Why does my coworker get under my skin so badly? Am I jealous of her?
  • Why did I cry so hard at that sappy movie? Do I have some unexpressed emotions looking for an outlet?

3. Purify

When we purify, we shine Jesus’ light into our emotions and expose the lie of the enemy. We invite Jesus into that place and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal truth. We purify our emotions by washing ourselves with the water of the Word.

God created emotions and they are good, but Satan always tries to counterfeit something that God designs. So, he throws in negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and fear. These feelings are often rooted in a lie about yourself that Satan has convinced you to believe.

Some of the most common lies that the enemy deceives us with are:

  • I’m not enough.
  • I’ll never measure up.
  • I’m not a gifted person.
  • No one really loves me or understands me.
  • I’m unlovable.
  • I don’t have enough faith.
  • God is only good to other people.
  • I’ll always have anger issues like my dad. It’s just who I am.
  • I will forever be alone; no one really cares about me.

Exposing these lies and counteracting them with God’s truth is life changing!

Ephesians 5:26-27 says, “For he died for us, sacrificing himself to make us holy and pure, cleansing us through the showering of the pure water of the Word of God. All that he does in us is designed to make us a mature church for his pleasure, until we become a source of praise to him—glorious and radiant, beautiful and holy, without fault or flaw” (The Passion Translation). The Word will counteract the lies of the enemy and purify our emotions.

When you find a scripture that counteracts the lies of the enemy, it is essential that you believe the truth that God says about you. When you purify and shine Jesus’ light on that emotion, you need to release it to the Lord and allow Him to fill you up with truth from His Word.

So, look for a scripture that counteracts the lie that the enemy is telling you. These could be:

  • I am a child of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)
  • I am His workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • The joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
  • I have the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16)
  • God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • The Lord will withhold no good thing from those that walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in all things, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God that transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

An Example

Here is one example of how to apply the three-step process in a practical situation.

Identify – I am feeling really stressed.

Ask “Why?” – I am overworked and have too much on my plate.

Go deeper with “Why?” – I don’t know how to say no.

“Why?”  – I am a people pleaser and want people to like me.

“Why?”  – I need to feel loved and accepted.

“Why?”  – I never felt love and acceptance growing up. I need to prove myself as being worthy of love.

Purify – Ask the Lord to purify your heart and mind. You can pray, “Lord I invite you into this core belief that I have about myself, that I am unworthy of love. I forgive those that made me feel unlovable. I surrender and release this emotion to you. I’m going to overcome this core belief by claiming your truth in Psalm 139:13-14: ‘For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.’”

My desire is that you walk in the fullness of wholeness: body, mind, and spirit. When you get in touch with all three aspects of your being, your ability to live your life out of love, grace, compassion, and true stability will be much stronger. It won’t feel like such hard work. You will be able to ward off offense, burnout, depression, people pleasing, insecurity, and other strategies that the enemy tries to use to keep you bound.

Take a moment to think back over your day or your week. Was there a time when you felt like your emotions were unhealthy? Did you have a sudden swing of emotions? Can you recognize why you were experiencing these emotions and expose a hidden lie associated with them? Apply the three steps into the situation as you allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.

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About Mim Hurst

Mim and her husband, Deryl, serve as pastors at DOVE Westgate Church in Ephrata, PA. They also serve together on the DOVE USA Apostolic Team. Mim has received training from American Association of Christian Counselors and Restoring the Foundations Ministries. Mim enjoys spending her free time reading, cooking, flower gardening, traveling, and savoring the outdoors. She also treasures time with her husband and three sons, two daughters-in-law, and two precious granddaughters.