Build Emotional Disclosure
It’s okay to have emotions. God made us that way. He created us in His image, and He is an emotional God. So despite anything you may have come to believe as a man in our culture, we have God’s green light not only to experience emotions but also to express them. We need to move beyond being emotionless, single-dimensional, bumps on a log (and I mean that ever so kindly). So let’s start now to make life a little more interesting…!
Move beyond anger.
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” (1 Timothy 2:8)
Anger often comes to mind early on when we ponder emotions, and it’s a biggie. Irritation, frustration, aggravation — all might be considered variations on the theme. And while anger is not taboo (think of Jesus ridding the temple of money changers!), it’s undoubtedly an emotion we must learn to control and express constructively as we mature in Christ. But my purpose just now is not to analyze and provide some therapy for any emotions that might challenge us or that might seem to dominate our days. Instead, I want us to acknowledge and embrace the full range of emotions with which God has blessed us. One psychologist and researcher suggests there are but eight basic emotions. Others list 400 or more. Wow. Regardless, I believe that we sort of stifle ourselves, hold ourselves back from who we really are until we learn to identify, acknowledge, and manage in Christlike ways ALL of our emotions. It’s time to become the fully dimensional men God created us to be.
Get in touch with your positive emotions.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
There have been times throughout the history of our culture when it was not considered “macho” to have any tender feelings. Guys had those feelings, of course, but tended to hide them or suppress them. And I believe this misguided approach to life lingers in many circles even today. Well, I have two words for that: “Stop it!” The truth is, we do experience and should express these positive emotions. At the same time, though, we must ask ourselves if these emotions are triggered only by particular objects of affection in our lives. When Christ is our focus, the Holy Spirit capitalizes on our connection with Him to produce the “fruits of the spirit,” we see listed in Galatians. Let’s be sure that 1) our “objects of affection” inventory is healthy and biblically permissible, and that 2) Jesus is at the top of it!
Go to God to more deeply understand your emotional self.
“Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word!” (Psalm 119:169)
One might consider David (primary author of the Psalms) to be the ultimate “macho man.” After all, he slew giant Goliath with a slingshot, didn’t he? But for him, there was no holding back when it came to expressing his emotions to God. He cried out to God in anger, sorrow, fear, and often utter joy. So let’s follow his lead and start with the Lord. No holds barred. Scream in pain, shout in anger, cry in grief, sing for joy — anything goes. Nothing we can say to Him will diminish His unconditional love for us. We can be totally honest with Him — even when He might be the object of our anger rather than the object of our affection! The truth is He loves us regardless — and He loves it when we are genuine with Him and pours out with total transparency whatever is on our hearts.
There’s a sense of unprecedented freedom when we learn to identify and express our emotions. But there’s still an element of discipline to it, as well. God gives us the latitude to rant and rave at Him all we want, but we must endeavor to be like Christ when we express our emotions, negative or positive, to another individual. There’s a learning curve, yes, but it’s worth the effort — lest we remain mere bumps on a log.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God's Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men's Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.