All emotions are god-given. There are no good and bad emotions. When honored properly and the result of truthful interpretations of the world, emotions help us to make proper choices and help us heal from trauma.


The scriptures are clear that God and Christ feel emotion and respond appropriately to it. They frequently speak of God's wrath in response to his rebellious children (Revelation 15:1,7). Christ cleared the moneychangers from the temple with a whip (John 2:13-16). Scripture speaks of Christ weeping (see John 11:35) and experiencing joy (see John 15:11). God also experiences fear - though not in the common meaning of the word. There can be confusion around this - as he repeatedly commands us against it (see, for example, Deuteronomy 31:6,8,12-13). However, the scriptures also say fear of the Lord is the "beginning of wisdom" (Proverbs 9:10) and other scriptures encourage us to fear the Lord. Perhaps fear is better understood by reading in Psalm 34, verses 4, 7, 9 and 11:

4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

These scriptures suggest that we should trust the Lord and fear the natural consequences of disobedience to His commandments - and if we do, we will be delivered from our worldly fears. In this sense - of fear as awareness of our environment and the consequences of any possible choice we make - the teachings in the scriptures about fear make more sense. God is constantly aware of all possible actions and their consequences and so perhaps in this definition of fear God feels fear as well. He certainly does not feel afraid for the future.

One of my favorite scriptures is in the Pearl of Great Price, a book of scripture part of the canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These particular verses describe God's reaction to the sins of his children as he looks down upon the earth (see Moses 7, starting in verse 29):

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?

Here we see God weeping - experiencing sadness and the corresponding loss of rebellious and disobedient children. This scripture helps me to see God as a being who experiences perfect wholeness - part of which is a true love for all, even when some choose not to come to Him.

God loves us. One evidence of that love is that He feels emotion toward us, His children.

Though now I understand emotion as a gift, I used to see it mostly as a curse. I believed that there were good and bad emotions and I measured the quality of the emotion by whether I enjoyed how it made me feel. I saw the emotions of contentment and joy as good, and emotions like fear, anger and sadness as bad. Over time, I began to believe that experiencing the feelings I labeled as bad meant I had made a bad decision or was bad and I began suppressing those feelings and getting angry at others when they didn't suppress their feelings as well.

Suppressing my emotions caused two things - first, it separated me from the important information that emotions provide, and second, because I did not honor what they communicated and respond to it, they deepended and manifested as depression, anxiety, worry, and other more difficult emotions.

Our emotions are based on the stories we tell ourselves about the facts we observe in the world. Stories are necessary interpretations of facts - we can't ever know exactly what someone else is thinking and feeling or why they act the way they do - but we have to be aware that our stories are never 100% true. As we gather more facts, we understand truth more clearly, and our emotions change appropriately in response to our clearer vision of the truth.

All emotions provide valuable information and serve a purpose. Anger tells us when our boundaries have been violated. Sadness helps us deal with loss. Fear is the awareness of our environment that helps us avoid danger. Joy helps us appreciate the moment and gives us inspiration. Working together with our reason and vision and conditioned upon true stories, all emotions help us work toward wholeness. If we are willing to honor their message and let them flow, we are able to respond appropriately to our experiences, our actions, and the actions of others. Used in conjunction with all of our capacities, they help us make good decisions and protect us from the actions of others that can hurt us.

Emotions never lie - but our stories do. In other words, our emotions always correspond correctly to the stories we believe. If our story is innacurate, listening to our emotions will lead us in the wrong direction. But emotions based on accurate stories help us to deal with the environment we find ourselves in - and ignoring the information they contain endangers ourselves and those we are charged with protecting.

I am no where near perfect at understanding my emotions and responding to the information they contain, but I try and improve day by day.

Truly honoring my emotions and experiencing them in full when they are based on true stories has helped me love more deeply and experience the world more fully. I have become more whole as a result.

Photo by John Fornander on Unsplash