By Elizabeth Laing Thompson, Crosswalk.com
A worldwide pandemic. Racial injustice. Wildfires. Political division. The loss of personal heroes.
This year has been full of feelings—but are the emotions of 2020 leading you, or are you leading your emotions?
Emotions are the lens through which we live our lives, which is why it is so important to understand, take control of, and grow from those emotions so we can thrive emotionally in our faith walks with Jesus.
This is exactly why self-proclaimed Big Feeler, Elizabeth Laing-Thompson, wrote her new book All the Feels: Discover Why Emotions Are (Mostly) Awesome and How to Untangle Them When They're Not.
She is no stranger to riding emotional rollercoasters, but something clicked one day when she realized, while reading Psalm 139 for the hundredth time, that God made her this way. Which means God likes her this way. And being a big feeler comes with its own unique gifts (and kind of rocks!)
In her book, she breaks down the three types of feelers: Big Feelers, Steady Feelers, and Reluctant Feelers, and shows what each one brings to the table and how each Feelers helps everyone else out.
The book is full of scriptures and tools to help people thrive emotionally, as well as vulnerable examples from Elizabeth’s own life.
Crosswalk was able to spend some time with Elizabeth as she shared these wonderful thoughts about our emotions and our walks with God.
On “Feeling on Purpose”
“I think one of the biggest struggles is figuring out how to lead our emotions instead of our emotions leading us, and learning to feel on purpose. That to me is one of the hardest parts of my feelings because they tend to just run away with me.
And so I really try to develop just for myself some strategies that help me to kind of…step back and evaluate ‘okay what is a feeling and what is a fact?’ Are my feelings grounded in the fact or are they just feelings?
And also how to take my feelings and line them up besides Scripture. Because sometimes, in spite of our love for God and our best intentions and our desire to be righteous, our feelings don’t lead us towards God’s ways.
…We don’t feel like doing what God wants us to do. And so we have to learn how to line our feelings up beside God’s Word and say ‘Well what’s true in the Scriptures? Let me follow that instead of my feelings.’
Those are some of the things that can get you started in learning how to feel on purpose.”
On Being Confident That God Cares about Your Emotions
“Well this is something that I really struggled with at different points in my faith. Waiting is something I know all too well…
Those two seasons [waiting to get married and waiting to conceive) really made me question ‘does God care?’
I believe in God, and I believe he cares about The World and he wants to save The People, but what about this person? What about Elizabeth?
Does he care about my life and what matters to me? And so I really went on this journey of searching the scriptures for proof that God loves the individual.
And there are so many incredible, just incredibly comforting, validating scriptures that say absolutely God cares for the individual.
One of my favorite things about [Jesus’] teachings is that he really brings that to life. He’s got the story of the prodigal son, the story of the lost sheep, and the story of the lost coin just all back to back, saying ‘Look, God will leave the many to find the one. The many don’t matter more than you. I will leave all my other sheep alone because I want to find you.’
…There are scripture upon scripture that show God’s love for the individual and that he cares about what we care about, and when we hurt he counts our tears and hold them in his hand.”
On How to Handle the Emotion of Grief
“We are a country and a culture are not good at grieving… We don’t lean into it, it makes us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable and embarrassed.
…I think we’re so accomplishment and schedule oriented and we don’t like making time for grief. And one of the things I talk a lot about in the book is there are seasons.
Solomon says [in Ecc. 3:1-8] there’s a time for everything. A season for every activity. There is a time to mourn, and a time to laugh, a time to dance, a time to weep. There are times for everything including grief and when we don’t take the time we need to process pain, we pay for it later.
We pay for it in bitterness… For me I have found that it comes out in my relationships. I get selfish and self-focused, I react to wrong things in relationships, because really I’m upset about something else.
But grief needs an outlet so it’ll find a person. So that’s something I really try to unpack [in the book] is when you have a season where you need to grieve, you’ve got to do it.
And it doesn’t have to last forever, but a lot of times I think our grief lasts longer because we don’t do it on the front end. And so…we are sort of messed up for a long time. And [in the book] I talk a lot about dark feelings knocking on the door of our heart, and how we have to decide.
We do have the power to decide ‘is it time for me to let this feeling in?’”
On Finding Safe People
“I am a very big fan of having a few key relationships in your life that you can just be gut level honest with.
And I know those can be hard to find, and not everybody has them yet. But if you’ve got other Christians in your life that you can open up with and just say ‘I have some things I need to say’… it’s so liberating.
Because to me, part of the reason we don’t deal with things is because we’re worried about what people will think. We’re worried about shame. We’re worried that it doesn’t look right, sound right, but man. Just airing that stuff out verbally is such a relief.
I think a lot times for me is I’ll realize, this isn’t as big of a thing as I’ve made it to be in my mind. When I’m living with it alone it’s like huge, monstrous, scary. And when I say it out loud people are like ‘oh me too.’
Because private feelings isolate you. Unshared feelings make you feel different and lonely. And what you find when you’re honest and open is you find a lot of compassion and you find a lot of wisdom from other people.
It’s been so freeing to find a few people that I feel safe enough with to be like ‘I had this horrible feeling, this horrible thought’ and they’re like ‘aw yeah, me too.’
...I pray about relationships a lot... And God doesn’t always just like drop a friend from the sky, but sometimes he does! So I do think prayer, God hears those prayers.
Also just being willing to take small risks in the relationships you already have. You know, just opening up a little more. You don’t have to share your deepest darkest thing, but share something and see if God provides an opening and you realize ‘okay this is someone I can have a deeper relationship [with] than I have now.’
Just taking those brave steps forward. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but sometimes it really does and it’s a beautiful thing when it does.”
Who Is This Book For?
Everyone who wants to learn to love the type of Feeler God made them to be and who wants a better grasp on their emotional strengths, and what they can give to those around them. It’s also for anyone who wants to grow in their emotional intimacy with God.
The book tackles anxiety and depression, as well as your every day circumstancial sadness. Readers will walk away with scriptures and strategies that will help them to thrive emotionally—even in such a year as 2020.
All the Feels releases on September 8th, 2020. Find your copy here.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Radu Florin
Elizabeth Laing Thompson is the author of When God Says, "Wait" and When God Says, "Go." She writes at LizzyLife.com about clinging to Christ through the chaos of daily life. As a speaker and novelist, she loves finding humor in holiness and hope in heartache. Elizabeth lives in North Carolina with her preacher husband and four spunky kids, and they make her feel humbled but happy, exhausted but exhilarated, sometimes stressed but often silly—well, you know...all the feels.