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Untangle Your Emotions

Counselling for emotions

I started my first ever engagement with a book club this month. Yes, it was online,

but I bought the book – hardcover even! Untangle your Emotions by Jennie Allen.

Sounded like something I could learn from, so with a few friends, we all commenced

our inaugural book club. Ezekiel 36:26 was inscribed inside the cover, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Followed by a prayer, “God we want our hearts to be whole, living, beating, feeling, full, connected to You and to one another. Help".

Ok. I can be on board with this. I want all this…. But I think my fleshy heart is doing ok. I love God, my friends, puppies, sunrises. God is very good! Four weeks into the book club, I am so aware of my stony heart. It is cold, sharp and hard, almost impenetrable. Compassion and love deflect off its icy corners as I shut down my feelings to guard against the unwanted emotions that this world causes to swell up inside; guilt, jealousy, hatred, frustration, disappointment. Stuff that no Christian should be walking around with in their heart, right? Well, this is the exact thought that Jennie Allen wants us all to stop and question.

Who gave us those emotions?.......God! Did Jesus ever sin?....... No – despite having ALL the human emotional experiences. Do we ever minimise, stuff down or ignore the emotion that God gave us to experience in a situation? *Ahem* maybe? And does this have the effect of those feelings disappearing, or do they unload inappropriately, catastrophising, losing control and erupting on our innocent spouse, kids, friends or strangers? (I think all humans understand what Jennie is talking about here.) So why would we want to experience those feelings that often result in regret, blaming, threatening shaming and demeaning others?

Well, I’m only up to chapter 4, but I think that this book is not about being controlled by our emotions, nor is it a book about us controlling our emotions, but discovering “an emotionally secure, connected, life-giving way that God has for us that could set us free to love and connect and live more deeply than we knew was possible” (p.39) as feelings aren’t meant to be fixed, but to be felt. Feelings, especially the painful ones, send us running to God. All humans are seeking compassion and Jesus wants to provide it, but if we squash those feelings down and don’t feel them, we are disconnecting ourselves from fully knowing our loving Lord; and without knowing God’s compassion and love, how can we make deeper connections with others around us?

I think what Jennie is saying, and referenced by the Bible, is that being made in the

image of God means that we have emotions and so, all emotions are good! What we do with those emotions? Well, that’s another thing, and that’s where we can head straight to sin. I love working in counselling as it offers a safe space to gently, practise the art of noticing, naming and experiencing our God-given emotions, enabling us to connect more deeply with our inner parts, with our God, and with each other. "God, we want our hearts to be whole, living, beating, feeling, full, connected to You and to one another. Help! Amen.”

Would you like to know more about emotions? Please get in touch with our team at Hope Christian Counselling.

Meet the author Mel Newcombe

Mel Newcombe counsellor

Hi, I'm Mel, I was originally a schoolteacher from rural NSW, my husband and I travelled around Australia before a move to the South Coast with our 2 children. I have been a Christian all my life and I have a masters in bio, psycho, social, spiritual counselling. I love the way faith and hope play an integral role in mental health and enjoy exploring the unique and complex way God has created each of us. I believe ‘talk’ therapy should also involve ‘doing’ and I help children explore their inner world through fun, therapeutic interactions.

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