Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Truth About Emotions

Leslie Basham: People often try to manipulate how they’re feeling by what they eat or drink or take. And to a certain degree, it works. But Dannah Gresh challenges us . . .

Dannah Gresh: What if what we put in us to control our emotions was not coffee or pills or chocolate or food or carbs or drugs or alcohol? But what if what we put in us to control our emotions was Truth? 

Leslie: Today is Friday, March 8, 2019, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe. 

Nancy: How would you describe your emotions today? Perhaps the more telling question is how would the people around you describe your emotions? Our emotions are a gift from God, but like any gift, we have to handle them correctly. Does that seem difficult? Does it ever seem like your emotions are controlling you rather than you controlling your emotions? Today we’re going to get help from my good friend Dannah Gresh.

At the True Woman '18 conference last fall, she gave an unforgetable message about, "Lies Women Believe About Emotions." Most importantly, she pointed us to the truth that sets us free. Dannah is a wife, a mom, an author, and she is partnering with Revive Our Hearts in a conference ministry called True Girl. You'll be hearing more about these events for moms and pre-teen girls later this year.

As you’re about to hear, Dannah’s passionate about helping women of all ages fight against Satan’s deceptions with the truth of God’s Word. Let’s listen together.

Dannah: Ladies, this morning I would like to ask you to open your Bibles to Luke 1, and I would love to address the topic, the lie, that I cannot control my emotions.

I don't know if you've noticed, but tween girls today are in crisis. As I was preparing and researching to write Lies Girls Believe, I came upon the research that told me that today's tween girls, ages 8–12—it’s not that they might struggle with depression, anger, resentment, greed, selfishness, depression, anxiety, stress—it's that they will struggle with it. But to what degree? And so they have developed what they call a “spectrum of anxiety” to measure tweens' emotions.

And the scariest thing that I read is that the anxiety levels of tween girls today, for the normal, average girl, is higher than what would have put a girl aged 8–12 in an in-treatment mental health facility in 1957.

Our daughters and our granddaughters are in crisis.

But as I was preparing this message for you, and I was meditating on my concern for those young girls, God started speaking to me. And He said, “Dannah, what is more tragic? Those tween girls, who are not yet mature in their faith and in their minds, are struggling so terribly with their emotions, or that many Christian adult women have not grown up out of that?”

Now, maybe that speaks to your heart, but I think He was pointing to me when He said it. And so I began to ask the Lord, “How do I grow up emotionally?”

Now, before we look at Luke 1, I want to just make three important statements.

First, emotions are good.

How do I know that? Because in Genesis 1, God looked back at everything He had created, and He said, “It is good.” So our emotions are good, and they are good tools of God when we use God's Word to govern our hearts.

Two, emotions aren't always reliable.

And this is where Luke 1 began to come alive to me because the chapter opens with Zechariah receiving a visitation from the angel of the Lord, and it says that fear fell on him. Now, I don’t know about you, but if an angel of the Lord shows up in my bedroom, fear is going to fall on me. Right? But the angel of the Lord immediately says something that is said throughout Scripture to many people, and the Lord wants to say it to some of your hearts today, he said, “Fear not.”

And then this is what spoke to me: He said, “I have come to bring you gladness and joy” (v. 14).

You see, the circumstance and his emotions were telling Zechariah to be afraid, but the reality of his circumstances were that God wanted him to feel joy and gladness.

I wonder how often we look at our circumstances, and instead of seeing God and His Truth so that we can process the right emotions, we cling to the ones that come to and fall upon us. And that's maybe why we believe we can't control our emotions.

And so the third thing I want you to know is that you can control your emotions.

The evidence of this? Coffee. (laughter)

I once went to the Dominican Tropic where the coffee is fine. And upon arriving—I might have partaken too much—I had four cups within about four hours. (laughter) And my daughter looked at me and said, “Who are you?” (laughter) I put something inside of me that made me very, very giddy and very, very happy.

This summer I've had some trouble with my tummy, and the doctors prescribed some medication for me that make me feel, well, like punching someone in the face, anyone really. (laughter) I call them my “grumpy-pants pills.” I put something in me that made me feel angry.

Sisters, what if what we put in us to control our emotions was not coffee or pills or chocolate or food or carbs or drugs or alcohol? But what if what we put in us to control our emotions was Truth? If what we put in us was Truth, it would help us put on what God really wants us to receive rather than to let the emotions that are falling on us settle.

And these are some of the things God says in Scripture you and I are to put on. Just like we get dressed every day, just like we button up our shirts, just like we put on our shoes, we are supposed to put on peace, strength, love, tenderness, forgiveness, humility, brokenness, contentment. And we are supposed to put on praise. And we are supposed to be in a continual state of thanksgiving and praise.

Sisters, we need to start put in Truth so we can put on our praise.

We can control our emotions.

I want to show you how God used Mary to speak to me recently about growing up, maturing in my emotions, putting in His Word so that I could put on Truth. And I want to share with you the two things that He spoke to me.

First of all, as I read this story of Mary, which . . . I have to put my glasses on. And I tell you I'm not feeling good about that. But I praise Jesus for glasses. (laughter) I put on my praise while I put on my glasses.

I want to read to you beginning in Luke 1, verse 28: The angel of the Lord came to her and said,

"Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" And she was greatly troubled at the saying, [she felt fear—there was fear on her] and she tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God."

And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth (vv. 28–40).

The first thing I saw as I read this, after the Lord had spoken to me about Zechariah’s predicament, was this: We mature emotionally when we choose to believe God's Truth no matter what our circumstances look like. We mature emotionally when we choose to believe God's Truth no matter what our circumstances look like.

Zechariah heard the word, but he did not believe it. It tells us that in verse 20. Because Zechariah didn't believe, he had more bad emotions. (I'm thinking, when he walked out mute, that that might have had some more bad emotions. I don't know.) He did not believe. He did not put in truth. He did not put on praise. He doubted, and it resulted in more negative emotions.

But Mary heard the word and did believe. We know this because in verse 38 she says, “Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord.” Now, what I think is that she must have known the prophecy of the Messiah.

She must have known the Word of God that was already written. It was familiar to her. And so when she was in these circumstances, she relied on that, and she demonstrated submission. She put on submission and said, “Yes, Lord.”

And because Mary believed, she received great emotions. We see in the next chapter that she breaks into song. It is known as “Mary's Magnificat,” as she received joy, because she knew the Word and believed the Word, and she acted according to the Word.

Now, it's important to note that both of them questioned the word of the Lord. Both of them questioned the angel. Both of them said, “What are you talking about?”

It's okay, my Sisters, to go to the Lord with your doubts and your questions.

It's okay to say, “I feel afraid. Is that the right emotion?”

It's okay to say, “What?! I'm going to have a baby? Do You know how that works?”

It's okay to say that.

Philippians 4:5–7 says:

The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [You know, I think that that also includes: “I need understanding. I need courage. I need strength.”] And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

But after you ask Him the questions and reveal the doubts, Sisters, we have got to choose to believe His Truth no matter what our circumstances look like.

Who do you think had more cause to be fearful and remain in the fear and doubt: Zechariah or Mary? Come on. (Audience replies: “Mary.”) Uh-huh. Her life was about to change and be altered in ways none of us can even imagine because of the day and age we live in. But she made a choice to believe the Word, what she knew about God, what was written.

And Philippians 4: 8–9 says,

Whatever is true, [She knew what was true. She knew what was written.] whatever is honorable, pure, just, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

And I think Mary didn't think about, “What’s going to happen to my reputation? What about Joseph? How is this going to work?”

Instead, I think she thought about the things of God, and the peace of God was on her.

I'm going to just say this to you the way I say it to tween girls: Sisters, my friends, your thoughts are the boss of your feelings. Whatever you are thinking about is going to be how you feel.

And Mary chose to think about the Word of God.

Now, here’s the thing: She was taking every thought captive when she chose to think about what she knew about God, what was written about God, and put on submission. But she knew it. She knew the Word of God.

You have to know the Word of God so that when the bad emotions fall on you, what has been put in you helps you to put on the Truth.

I had a really emotional . . . we'll just call it “the great Mexican meltdown” recently. That's what I call them when they're big. Now, I'm not prone to extreme emotional immaturity. I have my moments, but this was like a thick battle.

I don't know if you've ever had one of those days or months or summers where just a lot of things converge, and you come to a breaking point. I came to that point, and I got to a place where I just couldn't think on anything good. All I could think on was all the bad. Have you been there?

I am a woman who can sleep. Nothing wakes me up, and I can sleep long and hard. So when I don't sleep, and when I become sleepless, it is because my emotions have gone out of control.

So I laid down in bed one night, and it was 10:00, and the emotions started to get thick, and the darkness started to make them so pronounced. It just fell on me so heavy.

I remember sitting there and thinking, My life is terrible. I'm a bad mom. I'm a bad wife. I'm a bad teacher. I'm a bad blonde. (laughter) You name it. And the thing is, it was a deep, thick heaviness.

I had to choose to put on what I had already put in me, and I have spent time in my life memorizing Scripture for times like this. But I wasn't using it.

And so I laid there in bed. I can't really show you this. I'm laying in my bed and, you know, have you ever been there where just the darkness is heavy, holding you down. Right? And I'm laying in that bed, and the Lord is saying to me, “Put on what you put in you. Put on what you put in you.”

And I'm crying, and I am shaking with fear of the future.

And the Lord says to me, “Hey, a woman of God smiles at the future.”

And I'm, like, “I got nothing to smile about, Jesus.”

I'm searching my memory bank for Scripture, and suddenly . . . I was feeling very sinful, I should mention. (laughter) That's part of it.

And so suddenly, Psalm 130 comes to mind: “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, who can stand?” (v. 3 NIV).

And all I could do was whisper it. And I said it over and over. I was, like, “Lord, is this verse going to sink in? Because I think this is the one.”

And then the next thing I knew I was feeling a little bit of it, and so I sat up in the dark, hoping that I didn't wake Bob with my whispers.

(In a whispered voice:) “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, who can stand? If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, who could stand? If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, who could stand?

And then I thought, Okay, I need to say this out loud because maybe—maybe—if my ears hear it clearly, I'm going to start to feel it because I'm not feeling it.”

So I drug myself to the bathroom, and I looked in the mirror. “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, who could stand? For with You there is forgiveness and therefore You are feared. My soul waits and in his word I put my hope. O, Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (vv. 3–6 paraphrased).

(Sounds of letting out breath.) And then I felt, like, “I’ve got to say this full out loud.” (laughter)

So I walked downstairs, turned on the fireplace, “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins who could stand?”

And I felt my backbone straightening. I felt my spirit getting stronger. And then I thought, You know, I need to shout this out loud. (laughter)

So I walked out to my barn. (It was a bit of a temptation, because there were baby goats out there, and that could also help with peace, love, and joy.) And I held a baby goat in my arm. (That poor little thing, because I began to praise the Lord.)

If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, therefore, You are feared, my soul waits, and on Your word I put my hope. More than watchmen wait for the morning—more than watchmen wait for the morning—put your hope in the Lord for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. (cheers and applause)

And I want you to know something: I was feeling it. I was feeling the unfailing love. I was feeling the forgiveness. I was feeling the full redemption. Full redemption, Sisters! That is better than Walmart's guarantee. (cheers)

I was feeling it because I had put His Word in me, then I could put it on me. But I had to do the work of it, Sisters. I had to do the work of it, Sisters. You have to do the work of it, Sisters. In the dark night when everything is crumbling in on you, you have to do it.

Now some people would say, “That was just a mantra.”

No, that was the living, active Word of God. It is alive and active, and it works. (applause)

Some people would say, “It's just a crutch.”

And I would say, “It is a crutch that works just fine.” Put it in you so that you can put it on you, and it will control your emotions.

The second thing I see, very briefly: We mature emotionally when we run to our sisters for help in controlling our thoughts. We need each other. We need the Word, and we need each other to control our emotions.

“Mary went,” it says in verse 39, “in haste.” Hurry! Go fast! Go during the break! Go during your bus trip home! Tell your sisters what emotions you are fearing and feeling.

I don't know why we're so afraid of telling someone our emotions. Vulnerability is emotional exposure. Exposing your emotions is vulnerable. But here is what I have come to learn: People are drawn to it.

Every superhero has its weakness. We know, Superman has his kryptonite. Achilles has the heel. Samson had the hair.

Sisters, does this make us love them less? No! I have been vulnerable with you from the platform. I am vulnerable in my books. Do you love me less? (Audience replies “no.”)

What would happen if you dared to be emotionally vulnerable with your sisters?

I think they could help you put in the Truth so that you could put on the emotions that God intended for you to live in.

I think that's what happened when Mary went to Elizabeth. It says she stayed there for three months. That's a long time. Sometimes you need to be with your sisters a long time.

You know what our lack of vulnerability is? Shame. Shame is one of the most powerful and deeply impacting emotions. We didn't see it before the Fall. It is a result of the Fall.

I want to invite you not to live under the power of the Fall but to tell your sisters what emotions you need help with so they can put truth in you so that you can put it on. Because, listen, here is what matters: Not just that we look like mature believers, act like mature believers, but why would the world want what we have unless they see it working for us? Why would they?

This is a gospel imperative that we put in ourselves the Truth so that we can put on us these emotions that God intends for us to enjoy and to experience.

Now, I want to ask you to make a decision. I want us to respond to this because I don't know about you, but we don't put on the things that we need to when we interact with our roommates and our coworkers and our children and our spouses. A lot of times we just let our guard down when we're near the ones God has entrusted to us most.

So I want you to search your heart and ask yourself, “Where are my emotions out of whack?

Where do I need to put in God's Truth so that I can put on the emotions He intended for me to live in?”

So when we feel that we've made that decision, each individually, I want you to stand and sing "Jesus Loves Me" with us.

Nancy: Of course, depending on where you’re listening, it may not be feasible for you to stand. But you can pause this podcast and pray. Think about what Dannah Gresh was just talking about. Then, when you’re ready, sing along with Kristyn Getty and those gathered at True Woman '18.


Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me, He who died. Heaven’s gate to open wide.
He will wash away my sin. Let His little child come in.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

Lord Jesus, when the enemy tries to put on emotions that do not fit us as mature women of the Word, would You help us to have Truth put in us so that we might put on the emotions that You have created that are good, that You have given us governance and control over, and may we act like women who have grown up in the Word. In Jesus' name, amen.

Nancy: Amen! What an encouraging reminder from Dannah Gresh. Your thoughts are the boss of your feelings, not the other way around. And so we need to shape our thinking around the Word of God. And I can’t stress this enough. There’s no better way to fill your mind with the Truth than through Scripture memory!

At Revive Our Hearts, we’d like to help you memorize God’s Word so His Truth will be flowing out of you. One way we’d like to help is to send a set of Seeking Him Scripture Memory cards. They include a set of verses we talk about in the book Seeking Him. You can carry these cards around so you can memorize everywhere you go, like the doctor’s office or in line to pick up your kids at school.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts this month, we’d like to send you the Seeking Him Scripture Memory cards. Just visit to make your donation. Or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Thanks for your support as Revive Our Hearts continues help women focus on the Truth that sets them free. 

Leslie: Think about all the different places we turn for help. We need help with a lot of things in life. On Monday, Nancy kicks off a new series, asking us to think about where our true help comes from. She’ll take a closer look at Psalm 121, next week. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you counter lies with God’s Truth. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teacher

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.