This has to be the most relevant book I have read this year. For this reason, I took my time with it. If you have feelings this book is for you! Lol. If you have read any of Joyce Meyer’s books then you know something she always brings up is her attitude and outlook on life in earlier years. I have read her best seller Battlefield of the mind and Never Give Up and in both there are chapters and stories that give a little insight into how she struggled with her emotions and how this affected all her relationships and especially her marriage, but in Living Beyond Your Feelings , she really lifts the lid on where the negative emotions all began , what they cost her and how God has transformed her ‘emotional life’. She flat out writes that although she loved her son, she did not like him! This is not one to summarise or even pick out the relevant bits because there’s something for everyone’s emotions from stress to guilt to anger to grief to depression to ungratefulness, etc.
Here are a few lessons I learnt.
- Recognise the biblical perspective of one’s current being. If we have received Christ as Lord and saviour, then biblically we have received a new nature and the Holy Spirit who helps us bear fruit such as a sound mind, discipline and self control lives in us. This forms the basis of the book and the difference between self help, new age books and the biblical perspective of the soul. As a christian, God has equipped you to overcome all manner of emotions. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Timothy 1:7)
- Understand your personality. This one was new for me. Although I am aware we all have different personalities, I don’t immediately make the connection that personalties and emotions affect each other greatly. It turns out that a person could be more prone to discouragement than another because of their personality. For example people with melancholic personalities ‘may tend to be easily depressed or discouraged.’ Phlegmatic personalities tend to be relaxed and easy going etc. Understanding your personality helps you understand the root of your emotions. (Obviously, there tends to be a mixture of personalities in one person). Are you discouraged for an extended period time because your lost your job or because you tend to be discouraged as a result of your personality. In Joyce Meyers’ case she found the origin of her negative emotions in childhood abuse and her choleric (easily irritable) personality.
- ‘Don’t get stuck in a moment’. Whether the origin of your negative emotions is an event or part of your personality, its is not a place to park. Which takes us back to the first lesson. We have been equipped by God to navigate our way to positive emotions. Though the events preceding these emotions are often out of our control, God has gone ahead of all these things put together and provided a way out so that we need not wallow. We have an ever present Helper to help us get into gear again.
- Do not make any big decisions or respond to situations at the height of a particular emotion. Yes, emotions will rise to the surface and can often be an indicator of a certain direction but they are fickle and the least trustworthy indicator. How many times have we said ‘yes’ to a serious commitment out of excitement or given someone a piece of our mind out of anger. Think James 1:20. Anger will not yield the desires of God.
- Check your thought life and have a chat with yourself. Remind yourself of God’s goodness, His promises, how far you’ve come, your hopes and goals, etc. If any Christian tries to disqualify this concept or say it’s a new age concept , point them to the King David and Psalms. ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’ Psalms 43:5
- Most importantly, pray! Invite the Holy Spirit to in to help you sort through your circumstance and emotions. In the book Joyce shares that she was completely blind to her state and it was God who ultimately shined an inward light on the state of her inner brokeness. When she complained about a person or a situation, God usually pointed out an area within her that was part of that problem. God encouraged her to focus on her inward man and leave outward circumstances and people to Him.
I have already recommended this book in several conversations. I think if this is an area of concern for you, get this book! At the moment this is a hot topic for self help and new age genres, so I was excited to find a comprehensive Christian outlook.