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Men and Feelings
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Men, have you ever been asked by your spouse (or a friend), “What are you feeling right now?” And, if you are like many men, you respond, “I haven’t a clue! I can tell you what I think, but I really don’t know how I feel.” Some men have said to me, “Who cares how I feel anyway? Are feelings important?”

God created us to be relational and one important way of connecting with others is by reflecting on our feelings. Some would say that emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are. What you “do” with your feelings—now that’s another story. I don’t personally recommend you spend a lot of time obsessing about how you feel. But they can be very helpful in connecting with yourself and with others. For instance, if you are going to live with your wife in a “considerate” way (see 1 Peter 3:15), it would be very helpful to have some idea of how she might be feeling. You cannot empathize with another unless you are somewhat in touch with your emotions.

Feelings help you to understand what is going on inside of you. When your self-awareness is low, you can live reactively without giving much thought to those around you. Your behaviors impact those around you. Completely ignoring your feelings can make your heart hard. God wants to replace our hard hearts. Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” This text is not gender specific.

Indicator Lights

One way to understand the value of your emotions is to compare them to indicator lights on the dashboard of your car. When an oil light goes off, you can ignore it or even put a piece of tape over the light and say to yourself, “Stupid lights. They don’t mean anything.” But, you just might find yourself with a destroyed car engine. When an indicator light goes off, what do you do? You check under the hood to see if there really is a problem. That’s what feelings can do for us. They can grab our attention and help us to reflect on what’s going on.

Sometimes our feelings are based on distorted facts. That’s why it is helpful to stop, own them, think about what they are telling us, then reflect on the facts. For instance, your wife might say to you, “Honey, I’m concerned about your weight.” You might immediately feel attacked or condemned. And you might think, “I believe she thinks I’m fat and wants to get rid of me.” Here is where most reflections end. It would be much better to push another step ahead and check out what she is thinking. Tell her how you feel and ask her if what you think is what she meant. How many men would be surprised to find out their wives were thinking, “I’m concerned about your health because I love you.”

Thinking about feelings can be awkward for most men. It can feel embarrassing to try to figure out what you are feeling, let alone share those with your spouse or friends. But owning your emotions and sharing your heart can help bring you and your spouse together. Give it a try. You might be surprised at how you feel when you are done!

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.
Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

(Footnote: You can find sample lists of feelings to look at when you are probing around trying to identify how you feel. See http://www.wwme.org/feelings.html for a simple list.)

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