Damaged Emotions
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It's amazing how much our earthly parents can have an effect on our view of God. For example, my parents were always pushing me to do better, if I got a 'B' on my report card, their response is, you could have gotten an 'A'. If I got an 'A' their response was, you could have gotten an 'A+'. If I got an A+ on my report card, their response was, "if only you could do this in all your classes now". I never was a straight A student, but looking back now, I believe, had I gotten all A's, my response from my parents wouldn't of been one of approval but rather one pointing out another area I needed improving on just the same. Growing up I often sought approval from my parents and cases like this I never really felt I satisfied them, that I was ever good enough. My parents meant well, they loved me and I loved them. But because I was never living up to “my potential” I was ever driven to always try harder for I subconsciously felt that only in perfection could I not lack anything more and therefore my parents must approve of me. It may be of no surprise to you that I am still a perfectionist today.

  The problem with cases like this is we tend to project this same attitude on God. At conversion into life with God we may feel accepted but what about as time goes on, as we learn the "right" and "wrong" things of being a Christian; as we're taught what is pleasing and what is an abomination to God. In my case it's the same thing as I had with my parents. Though not directly, they demanded perfection, I was not perfect, therefore approval was never found. You see with God, we read verses like this one I mentioned before, Matthew 5:48 that says "Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." At first this told me that I needed to try harder because just as my parents did, God demands perfection and He's direct about it. The problem didn't lie in His demand but rather my shortcomings, which were always evident before me. So like with my parents I constantly felt disapproval and condemnation from God. This was an absurd, inaccurate view of God, for His Word tells me a much different story. Once I learned the truth and corrected my inaccurate view of God things were better? HARDLY. For you see, this damage went well beyond an inaccurate view, lodging itself in various sections of my emotions, damaging them in ways that couldn't be so easily corrected.

  Faith is trust. The faith needed for salvation is 100% a gift from God. (Eph. 2:8, Heb. 12:2). And we know by God's word (John 1:12, 1 Tim. 4:10), and even by His character (Eze. 18:23, 18:32, Isa. 30:18, 53:10, Luke 11:13, 12:32, John 3:17, 2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:4,) that He freely gives this gift to any and all who would receive it. The ability to trust emotionally however is an entirely different aspect. This is learned early in life, a child's parents or others who interact with them regularly during their development years are usually their biggest influence. As the child relates to those around him, he learns through trial and success that it's safe to trust. He discovers the object of his dependency is trustworthy. In most cases this is the child's parents. The child learns how to rest under the wings of their parents and begins to rely on them for their many needs (such as the need for approval). The child experiences what it's like to rest emotionally in the arms of good, loving parents. The child then begins to internalize that emotion. During the growing years of development the child will test and reaffirm his early experience. This then becomes the basis for that child to emotionally trust people and the world around him and eventually becomes his basis for emotionally trusting God. If, during those development years a child emotions are continually hurt in one or more areas, he begins to develop what's known as damaged emotions.

  I remember reading about an experiment done by a man who owned some fish. Every day he would feed his fish the same amount of food at the same time of day. Enough so that the fish began to expect it. When those little bits of flakey food would touch the water the fish would bee-line for the top with their mouths open gobbling up any little spec floating atop the water and dragging it back down while they munched on it. Well after a long time of this routine the man swapped out the food for pencil shavings and continued to feed the fish as he had done on any other day. He dropped the pencil shavings in and up rushed the fish, mouths open, gobbling up the pencil shavings, dragging them back down and munching on them. But after a bit of chewing the fish would spit them out. It seemed at first the fish didn't think much of it, they just immediately returned to the top to grab another piece as they must have just gotten unlucky with the first bite. Needless to say they didn't get any nutritional value. The next day he would drop the pencil shavings in at the same time, the fish would run up, grab them, drag them down and spit them out. Most, but not all returned to the service to scope it out for real food, only to find none. The next day he would drop the pencil shavings in and the fish would slowly work their way to the service, some would bite at the shavings, others simply examine them thus realizing their fake. This process was continued for a few more days until at one point, the fish wouldn't surface at all. Their ability to trust their food was going to be there was destroyed. The next part was quite interesting.

  The man doing the experiment decided to end his cruelty and switched back to regular fish food. Upon feeding time he sprinkled the food atop the tank delighted that he could once again fulfill the needs of his fish. One problem, none of the fish checked it out. The fish had been emotionally trained to not trust that which was sprinkled on the waters surface and even though this time it was the very thing they needed most, being on the brink of starvation. They had not even the slightest will to investigate. Had they not noticed the shifting of the waters from the flakes landing atop? Yes they did. Their senses hadn't changed, but their ability to trust on a natural level the things they perceived had.

  It's no wonder that Satan created a counterfeit of Jesus called Santa for children to believe in at such an early stage in their life. And it doesn't stop with Santa. Other fictional characters we teach our children include the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Jack Frost, etc. What higher need is there than to trust in God, and what more devastating emotion to shatter than the ability to trust in that which is unseen. (Rom. 1:20, 8:24, 2 Cor. 4:18, 5:7, Heb. 11:1,27).

  Have you ever been so excited about something you were afraid to trust that it's real?


My wife showed me this video of a dog who had previously ran into the sliding door, now the dog, even though it wants so badly to come through the doorway and get the treat has great pain associated with going through the doorway. Even though he wants to so bad, he first must wrestle with what his damaged emotions are screaming at him.


If you've felt this way, you are not alone. The saying "to good to be true" was made and relayed by people who felt just like you. There is even a recorded example of the disciples feeling this way.

While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" - Luke 24:41

  The disciples had walked many years with Jesus, having left everything to follow Him (Matt. 19:27, Mark 10:28). Each left the comfort of his own life for the new found comfort under the wing of Jesus. They had grown accustomed to Jesus taking care of everything. They became as sheep to a shepherd. But that comfort would soon take a devastating emotional hit.

Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.' - Matthew 26:31

  It's interesting that even though Jesus had informed them all that must transpire, (Matt. 16:21, 17:22, 20:18, Mark 9:31, Luke 17:25, 24:7), they were still devastated when it came to pass. Was is because they didn't trust in what He told them? Possibly. Peter at one point rebuked the Lord when Jesus told Peter all the things He must suffer. (Matt. 16:22). Was it because they had rested their emotional trust on Him taking care of everything? Possibly. The story written in Luke 24:36-49 has Jesus reappearing to the disciples after His death and resurrection. Here He tries to convince them that it was indeed Him. He even shows them His hands and His feet (vs. 39) to prove it. But verse 38 tells us that they were troubled and doubts arose in their hearts. Did they want to believe? Of course. Jesus to be alive was their greatest need, the very thing they had set their hope on. Because of the devastation from Him leaving the first time they feared to believe this time lest they be hurt again if it wasn't true. (Salt in the wound seems to mild of an analogy.) Even though Jesus tried convincing them, there emotional level to believe wouldn't allow it. "While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement..." (Luke 24:41) They were afraid of being hurt. They still could not believe "because of their joy and amazement". Sounds odd doesn't it? The very cause of their doubts was because the object to believe was so good. Why is that? Well one definite possibility was because of the emotional damage incurred last time they felt they had lost this Hope. Mark 16:11 records the disciples even refusing to believe the report from the women who brought testimony from the empty tomb that Jesus had risen. 

  Have you ever felt that way? That someone could present the evidence to you in such a way that it is logically undeniable? That if Jesus Himself appeared before you today by some miraculous appearance like He did with the disciples, showed you His hands and feet where He had been pierced, that you "still could not believe". I remember thinking that if I saw Jesus returning riding the clouds as is written in the Bible and I saw Him with my own eyes descending from heaven, I remember thinking that I would even be able to doubt that, even when seeing it with my own eyes. In my emotional state of damage I remember I had the ability to not only doubt that which is utmost, being God Himself, but I found I had the ability to then began doubting all that was good. I even developed a fear of much that was bad. Funny, I didn't have a hard time believing in the possibility of bad things, but that which I wanted to believe the most was the very thing I felt I couldn't believe.

  With doubt stemming from damaged emotions, the issue isn't whether or not God has given that person saving faith. That became theirs the moment they would receive it. The issue is the believers ability to rely or depend on God on a feeling level. The believers salvation is not at stake but rather their daily walk with God in a sense of safety, security, and assurance. If a child endures an improper upbringing where the child's first trust objects were aloof, indifferent, emotionally cold, abusive, cruel, hostile, untrustworthy, etc... the child will have difficulty not only in emotionally trusting others, but God as well. The child's subconscious mind will be scarred and damaged leaving the child with an inability to trust on a feeling or natural level. Not addressed, this hurt will slowly present itself in the form of doubts in the believers life. When any event such as a crisis occurs that taps into these buried emotions, there is a beastly eruption of these emotions that rise up to overpower faith and reason, and doubt reigns supreme.

  The first step in recovery is understanding this situation for exactly what it is, realizing that you do have a subconscious emotional injury. Knowing what it is, is the first step in disarming it's devastating effects. Take the pressure off yourself by recognizing that your problem is not with God or with your faith, but is rooted in your damaged emotions. Also understand that damaged emotions is a wide spread problem, you are not alone. Depending on the type of damage from person to person the outcome may be different for each. In our case it's a type of damage that has hindered our ability to trust on an emotional level. They're may be other emotional scars. Stories like the one I shared at the beginning of this section regarding my upbringing are just one instance of the circumstances that revolved around the emotional damages I incurred. There were other instances in my early years that I still remember, not all revolving around my parents being the object of trust. This particular story I shared helped me understand why I had a hard time ever feeling approved and accepted. Not only did this create self-esteem issues, but this inability to feel acceptance was projected onto God and all who were around me. I even developed a pattern of habitual lying to portray to those in my life that I was indeed perfect in the standard of measure I assumed they held me too.

  Secondly, focus your attention on finding healing for those damaged emotions. This can be difficult in the face of overwhelming doubts, fear, and anxiety. But don't let those things become the object of your focus. Don't get me wrong. You may still be pummeled by them but focus on finding healing. When Peter focused on Jesus he walked on water. He did what seemed impossible. But when he looked around him at his current circumstances, understanding that what he was doing was impossible, he became scared and he sank. (Mat. 14:21-36). Also know that if you entertain these fears, anxieties, and doubts that God is still faithful. Your salvation is not dependent upon what you do, but entirely on what Jesus did. Therefore, even if you don't feel  it you are secure in Christ. As Christ did with Peter, He does with us.

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" - Matthew 14:31

Even when you are doubting, whether you feel  it or not, He's gotcha!

  Next involves being good to yourself. You are likely your own worst enemy. Instead of being hard on yourself, treat yourself with understanding and respect and treat your feelings with care. Your feelings are you. Just as it took time to develop these emotional damages it will also take time to heal these emotional damages. Though we search for some spiritual quick fix, hoping God would just heal us and be done, which by the way He can and does on occasion. The fact is He often allows this type of healing to come through that which He has already provided, and all according to His timing. God can use this type of healing for you to bear fruit and be used by Him in ways you truly can't begin to imagine. (John 3:8).

  As Jesus came to you in the first place, which by the way He did knowing full well all that was you, damaged emotions, failures, baggage, and all that is you. As Jesus came to you in the first place, He came fully knowing not only what you had done, but everything you would do after that, yet He still chose to come to you. To save you. God loves you. Though you may be; He is not surprised at this fiery ordeal among you. Since the Lord Jesus has paid your penalty in full, to deliver you from condemnation, surely you shouldn't condemn yourself. Jesus came to you with zero intention to condemn you. He did not plan on making you a vessel of wrath.

"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. - John 3:17

Aren't we glad that our judgments on ourselves don't hold up in the Court of God? If you, like I have, say in the court of God. "I am guilty!" Jesus replies, "You have no right to make that judgment. I am He who judges, rather He who was raised, and I intercede for you here. Not you." (Rom. 8:34, 14:4, Heb. 7:25, 1 John 3:20-21).

  Fourth. Seek information. Using trusted resources research this sensitive and tender issue. To give you a better understanding of; well, you. Understanding where your emotional scars came from will help you understand where you need healing most. It is important to understand the causes of those emotional damages, but not for the sake of placing blame, but rather to focus on healing. You have to investigate the wound before you know how to treat it. Band-Aids aren't enough.

  Fifth. Seek assistance. Find a respected Christian counselor or Christian psychologist to help you. The wounds you've experienced may be to deep to be handled by a lay person.

  Sixth, Seek support from fellow Christians. The church as a body was intended to work together in healing. (Rom. 12:15, Jam. 5:6, Heb. 13:3). Find Christian brothers and sisters who can support and love you on a personal basis and are willing to pray for you.

  Finally, continue to cultivate your relationship with God. Often having an inaccurate view of God for too long can result in damaged emotions. Just as children can receive damaged emotions from their early stages of growth, so can Christians who carry an inaccurate view of God in their early stages of spiritual growth. (The disciples as listed in this section for example). As we talked about before, understand that you can walk in faith amidst your doubts even your doubts that are rooted in emotional damage.

  Don't give up! God is indeed for you! He is committed to your wholeness and He will sustain you. (Rom. 8:28-31, 14:4, Phil. 1:6).



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