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 | By Adam Cross

‘All The Feels’

Emotions are your road map

Do you ever feel like your emotions just get in the way? Whether it's anger at a parent, a panic attack at school or hurt caused by a friend, our emotions can at times feel overwhelming and unnecessary. While our emotions are not only necessary, they are good and God-given. God has given us the gift of our emotions to reveal himself to us, and to understand who we are as his beloved sons and daughters.


Exit here …

Emotions are like a road map to what is good, true and beautiful, and they reveal to us what we value. Think of your emotions like a sign on the highway telling you what streets and cities are coming up. If you take an exit and explore it you will find something new, and have a deeper understanding of your surroundings. Just like that exit sign, your emotions point to a deeper value – to God – and to a greater awareness of yourself. They can even reveal to us who God is and who he has created us to be.

The law of the grocery store

Imagine this: You are at the grocery store waiting to pay and someone cuts in front of you in line. How do you feel? Most likely there will be some sort of anger or frustration. If we explore why we’re angry, we might find that we value respect and justice, and that the law of the grocery store has been broken! These values of respect, fairness, and justice matter. God has written truth onto our hearts and our emotions remind us of what we are made for.

Can’t go around

If we try to avoid, dodge or suppress our emotions, they often end up popping up somewhere when we least want or expect them. This could look like anger outbursts with your family, sudden anxiety around friends, or feeling down and not knowing completely why. Taking time to invite God into our emotions and allowing them to exist in healthy ways allows us to be present and real with ourselves and others. It helps us to respond to our emotions and needs with care, rather than being ruled by them.

Fully human

God gives us the grace to navigate all of our emotions, even the ugly ones. To have negative emotions is to be fully human. Christ felt all of our human emotions. The Gospel tells us Jesus got angry, he cried and grieved, he sweat blood, he experienced joy. We as humans experience sadness when we have lost something really good. We experience anger when a boundary has been crossed or when we experience injustice. We experience anxiety when something valuable is in danger. God calls us to acknowledge, accept and experience our emotions as Christ did. God cares about your emotions and longs to be invited into them.

Invite God into emotions

So how do we lean into our God-given emotions when they feel too heavy or overwhelming? God has given us real tools to navigate our emotions, including journaling out how we feel and why. It can also help to talk to someone we trust such as a priest, youth minister, parent, close friend or therapist about what we are experiencing. We can remember that God is here with us right here and now. We can breathe and invite him into whatever we are experiencing and seek help when our emotions are too much. We can take our emotions into the sacraments and offer them to God in our worship and prayer. We aren’t called to push down, ignore or dismiss what we are feeling. Invite God into your emotions each and every day as you navigate them with real tools and support to live your life to its fullest!

Adam Cross is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, and he worked as a youth minister at his local parish for 8 years. Adam loves to integrate the Catholic faith into his therapy practice.

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