Have your pre-teens or teens ever gone through a season in life where they grappled with an onslaught of difficult emotions?
Because we live in a fallen world, at times, our kids will find themselves unexpectedly dealing with intense emotions like hurt, anger and feelings of betrayal when those closest to them thoughtlessly or even intentionally wound them with their words and actions.
It’s difficult to walk through these valleys when someone we care about hurts us. It can be even harder to watch our loved ones – particularly our kids – ache when someone they care about hurts them emotionally.
How do we return to a place of joy when we are in an emotional rut? How do we teach our children to do the same?
The answers are found in the Word of God.
The Bible reveals that God loved us so much, He sent His only Son to save us and to show us how to handle the difficult situations in life. We look to Jesus as “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) because He knows what it’s like to feel the full spectrum of human emotions yet live a sin-free life. Because of His great compassion towards us, Jesus shows us how to overcome every type of emotional wound!
The first key to moving past an emotional wound lies in Romans 12:2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
When someone hurts us, our natural tendency is to be angry – to hold a grudge – and to replay the painful scenario over and over again in our heads. But, when we pray – when we submit ourselves to the Spirit of God – when we read our Bible and follow the example that Jesus set before us – over time, we are able to bring painful situations and difficult emotions before God and heal from them with His help.
The key to true life transformation isn’t found in self-help books – it’s found in the Bible.
Another key that helps us maintain a positive outlook when things are going well and return to joy when things get emotionally out of kilter is found in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
This powerful passage contains so much practical wisdom, I’ve created a checklist to help guide my family through this Scripture. Perhaps these questions will help your family to live out this verse as well!
Are we thinking about things that are true?
Let’s get into the habit of comparing everything we read and hear against Scripture instead of automatically accepting other people’s opinions as facts. Let’s also commit to memorizing Scripture and using God’s truth to overcome any distortions and negativity in our lives.
Are we thinking noble thoughts?
When we think about others, let’s focus on their positive personality traits – their more noble and honorable characteristics – instead of honing in on their faults and character flaws.
Are we thinking about what is right?
When someone hurts us, our natural response is to strike back – but that’s not how Jesus responded when people treated Him poorly! Instead of acting impetuously, let’s ask ourselves how Jesus would have handled Himself in similar situations and commit to following His example.
Are we focused on things that are pure?
Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:18). Let’s not distract ourselves from our troubles with worldly things, but instead, let’s focus on the pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2).
Have we turned our attention to what’s lovely?
We have the power to focus on the beautiful things in our world instead of dwelling on the negative ones. Let’s choose to let go of those things which do not uplift us and instead, surround ourselves with beauty and infuse our minds with positivity.
Have we identified role models we can admire?
It’s important to identify biblical role models and godly people in our lives who we can admire, whose values we can emulate, and whose example we can follow – particularly during times of duress. Looking for a conversation starter? Sharing our role models with one another makes great table talk!
Are we thinking about things that are excellent or praiseworthy?
Have you noticed how bad news has a tendency to overshadow all of the good things that are happening in our lives? Yet, that’s the opposite of what the Bible teaches! Let’s commit to identifying and giving thanks for all of the wonderful things that are happening in our lives.
Changing the way we see others and think about the world around us takes time, but it’s well worth the effort. As we continue to apply these biblical principles over time, the fruit of the Spirit will become increasingly evident in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
Combining this process with the discipline of spiritual journaling can help us to further focus our thoughts. As we process our emotions and spotlight significant Bible verses on the pages of our journals, we often gain key insights into our lives.
Whatever Is Lovely: A 90-Day Devotional Journal by Allia Zobel Nolan is the perfect place for tweens and teens to begin recording their thoughts. This beautiful journal – the latest offering from the Faithgirlz Collection – reinforces the spiritual lessons we are teaching by providing children with devotionals that illuminate Scripture and journaling space that helps them to transform their thoughts and apply the principles taught in Philippians 4:8!
Have you ever used a journal to process your feelings? Which aspect of Philippians 4:8 do you need to focus on most as you strive to transform your thoughts? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!