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[Facing Your Feelings] Introduction

So what is your gut reaction? Tell me how you really feel."

"It's a perfect match—they're madly in love, and she has nothing but good feelings about him."

"Let's go for it! My sense is that we're doing the right thing."

These familiar sound bytes indicate that our modern world is deeply sensitive to human emotions. In fact, more often than not, our feelings are our compass, guiding our decision-making process. We call it "following our hearts instead of our heads." Of course, we know that emotions are a God-given part of our lives, allowing us to vividly experience the world. But as Christian women, we have to ask ourselves if emotional satisfaction should be our primary goal in life.

The answer is clearly no.

The evidence around us suggests that modern emotions are creating subjective standards that aren't the least bit trustworthy. Broken marriages, abused children, and teenage suicides proclaim out-of-control emotions. Wants that are falsely identified as needs keep family credit cards maxed out and finances in shambles. And "if it feels good, do it" was a deadly motto for thousands of people now suffering from sexually transmitted diseases.

My years as a wife, mother, and Bible teacher have taught me that God's Word provides an objective set of standards for daily living. Naturally, these standards don't always "feel good" when we first confront them. For example, when God calls upon us to treat others the way we'd like to be treated ourselves, personal sacrifice is necessary. When He requires us to obey His commandments, doing so may conflict with our deepest cravings. Most disturbing of all, He firmly challenges us to set all else aside when we submit ourselves to His sovereign will.

On a day-to-day basis, we are faced with hundreds of choices, thousands of challenges, and countless temptations. In the pages that follow, we'll reflect upon the emotional experiences of both contemporary women and historic men and women who lived in biblical times. I hope our inquiry into their lives will encourage you to bring your will into line with the biblical principles we'll study. Once you've made a willful decision to choose God's way, you'll find that your emotions will follow. When women do this, I can tell you the results are life changing.

Why is dealing with our emotions—facing our feelings—so important? While positive emotions add luster to life, negative emotions can be very damaging. If we ignore them, become obsessed with them, or refuse to confront them, they will stunt our spiritual growth. The truth is, we cannot be spiritually mature unless we are emotionally mature. My prayer is that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, this book will enlighten and inspire you toward emotional health and its inevitable result—spiritual growth.

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