God equipped us to experience many emotions. But this doesn’t mean our emotions get to control our life. Becoming emotionally strong is learning how to honor our various experiences while still keeping ourselves grounded in our deeper values and beliefs.
To be sure, being strong emotionally is not denying or repressing our feelings. This is simply avoidance that cuts us off from the deep movements of our heart. We become the proverbial tin man, with a hard outer shell while remaining empty inside.
On the other hand, it’s not strength to allow every passing emotion to take us out either. There’s a place for awareness and sensitivity, but we still have responsibilities in life to fulfill regardless of how we feel. And our momentary feelings are never an excuse for bad behavior or sinful indulgences.
To be emotionally strong is to honor all the feelings God has given us to experience – listening and discerning what wisdom they might have to share. They’re part of our internal advisory board, and we become impotent without them.
At the same time, our emotions don’t get to run the show. We tune in and exercise them to their fullest extent, while also marshaling them in the service of love. It’s our deeper values and beliefs that should ultimately determine the decisions we make and how we show up in each moment rather than our emotions.
For instance, we remain patient and kind with our wife and kids even though we’re frustrated and exhausted from work. We don’t deny our frustration or exhaustion, but we don’t get to take our feelings out on them either. We address the needs of our soul, sharing with them as needed, while also continuing to demonstrate love.
In the end, emotional strength is neither denying nor caving into your feelings. Rather it’s honoring your various experiences while remaining committed to your practice of love.