The Full Spectrum of Feeling
By Andy Allan
When my mom gifted me a shirt that “goes great with your brown pants,” I was confused.
“You mean my green ones?” I responded.
That was the moment I discovered I’m colorblind (a mild red-green deficiency). No one noticed, including me, until my 20s. I guess most people just chalked it up to my “unique” fashion sense.
When it comes to emotional intimacy, I’ve found myself similarly limited. When my wife asks, “How are you feeling?” my sentence starts with “I feel” but usually ends with “…like taking a nap,”… eating Taco Bell,” or “…punching the wall.”
Emotions serve as signposts pointing to deeper realities within us. Like when I’m mad as I wash dishes, muttering about how dirty our kitchen is and clanking plates at earsplitting levels.
My wife knows I’m angry (the neighbors must know, too). When she asks, “What are you mad about?” I’ll respond with “I’m not angry,” in my best Clint Eastwood impression.
At some level, I know I’m angry but don’t want to admit it. But I need to see through my feelings to what caused them and go from there. If I pause to process, dirty dishes accuse me of failure. “If you were a better man,” their crumbs shout, “we’d be clean by now.” A dirty kitchen makes me feel like I don’t measure up, and I’m filled with anger at myself.
James 1:20 says, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” It produces quite the opposite, causing stress and turmoil from the kitchen to the bedroom and everywhere in between.
Examining the belief underneath my anger, especially alongside my wife, has been so helpful. She doesn’t judge me by how quickly our plates are cleaned, and she reminds me God doesn’t either.
The Good Stuff: The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5)
Action Points: Next time anger or another emotion rises to the surface, think twice before pushing it back down or reacting. Instead, try to put it into words. Calmly tell your spouse what’s on your mind.
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