Balancing Your Emotions With Truth

Have you ever heard a statement like: “The devil wants you to pay attention to your feelings, Jesus wants you to pay attention to the truth”? Or maybe you’ve noticed that our culture can focus so much on making sure everyone feels good, that it limits our ability to speak truth, causing some to wonder if emotions are something to be dismissed or belittled. 

As a counsellor I hear comments like “I got that instability from my mom” or “I’m working on controlling how I feel.” In fact some seem to be so disconnected from their emotions that they can’t identify what they are feeling in a given moment, which is immensely hard on their relationships because they can’t connect effectively in intimate relationships like marriage or even parenting. 

Perhaps this is a major factor in why we are straying so far from God’s truth in our culture! We’re trying so hard to shut down a part of us that God has gifted us with, which eventually rises up and takes over if we don’t give it the acknowledgement it needs. 

You see, we aren’t supposed to control our emotions, but instead we are to feel them. Yes, we may need to filter our actions and sometimes if we respond to our emotions the wrong way then our actions can become sinful, but usually those actions are sourced in our inability to process the emotion in the first place. 

As adults we aren’t the only ones that need to learn to accept our emotions, our children need to learn this too. Even better that they learn now before it becomes a problem later as adults or teens, when they are trying to process their compassion for others simultaneously to their understanding of God’s truth.

My favourite illustration to use when processing and accepting emotions is found in the wave pool; emotions are like the big surges of water, or “swells” that come at you in a wave pool. 

When you first see them, you might be afraid or nervous either because of the size or unknown nature of what’s coming.  When I first stepped into a wave pool I would see the swell/wave coming and get nervous and try to stand my ground, keeping my feet firmly planted. The result was not good. Slammed by the wall of water and gasping for breath I would have barely enough time to prepare for the next rush of water. 

I needed to stop trying to fight the swell. Taking a breath and letting my feet leave the ground, allowing my body to rise with the water and eventually come down the other side. There may be moments of discomfort, wondering how long the wave will last, or how long we might have to tread water, but in the end we find safety and security in riding it out. Choosing to feel our emotions is quite similar. Our emotions are part of our whole being and they tell us something. Have you ever noticed that Ephesians four starts by telling us to “Be angry”? It’s our response to anger that is warned against, but so often we have vilified anger as evil. 

Both we and our children need to learn to FEEL our emotions. We need to acknowledge them, face them and ride them out. As we do this we can learn to understand what is motivating the emotion that we are feeling. Anger, for example, tells us that we need something, possibly justice for ourselves or others; it’s a catalyst for change. Responding to that need requires acknowledgement of the emotion and its source, making a decision about how we respond to it happens AFTER we allow the wave of initial emotion to pass, when we are “grounded” with our feet are on solid ground again.

This is a hard lesson to learn, for ourselves, but also for our children. Allowing our children to feel things like helplessness, desperation, grief, sadness, fear, and anger are uncomfortable for us and so often we swoop in to distract them or save them from the waves that they need to learn to process and ride out – it’s our job to show them what it means to see emotions as a gift from God instead of a curse to be worked through, and to show them how to let their emotions inform them but not control them. 

So, a more accurate statement could be something like, “Jesus wants us to pay attention to both our emotions and the truth, allowing the truth to inform and guide our actions.”

May you have courage as you ride the waves that come your way, and teach your children to do the same. It’s important to be that emotional safe place for your children so you aren’t  triggered yourself (You don’t want to get sucked into the undertow of their wave). If processing your own emotions is new for you, bear the discomfort with God at your side, and if you need help, counselling is always a good option.


David McVety

Counsellor and Shepherd

Original article published HERE




I was struck recently by something that maybe should be a given, but I don’t think it really is in our culture.

The issue that spoke to me was that of obedience, obedience specifically as it relates to God and my relationship with Him.


Is not about “Do this or else” but an offer to “please stay close and safe”


I was struck recently by something that maybe should be a given, but I don’t think it really is in our culture.


The issue that spoke to me was that of obedience, obedience specifically as it relates to God and my relationship with Him.


I think that most of us see obedience as something that involves punishment. Thoughts and phrases like “If you obey me then I will love you” or “if you love me, you will obey me” or “if you obey, you will be blessed” which leads to other thoughts like “if I disobey I will lose out or be punished.” These concepts aren’t totally wrong, in fact they tend to line up pretty clearly with the Old Testament, considering the numerous times Israel was “judged” for their disobedience.


Even as parents we may take this posture with our kids. “Do this or else” is a common response from many of us, especially in moments of frustration on our part or disrespect and disregard from our kids.


This is a problem when it comes to our understanding of God though, with this mentality, the only reason we have to obey is to avoid punishment, which really puts us at odds with the concept of love, doesn’t it?


We fight our sin in a desperate attempt to avoid losing something, or gaining punishment. Doing this makes us look at verses like this one as threats:

John 15:9-10 (NIV)

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

It can come across like, “IF you do what I’ve asked then I will love you” but that isn’t what it says.


In reality though, it actually says something entirely different from a threat.


Allow me to illustrate; if my son wants to run across a busy street I tell him no because I know that he is likely to get hurt if he does. So I tell him not to, and depending on his age I might tell him why. I ask him to stay on the sidewalk with me, and to hold my hand. If he stays WITH me and listens to what I’ve asked, he is: in my presence, close to me, safe and accepting the love I am offering through my instructions – essentially “remaining in my love.”


You see, he has the opportunity to realize that my instructions, boundaries and even commands are expressions of love, and opportunities for him to trust me and stay in my presence and admit and accept that I love him. This makes the act of obeying shift drastically because it isn’t me telling him something in an attempt to take away his fun, but for the purpose of protecting and loving him.


What brought this to mind was the fact that I was finding moments in my day and life where I felt specifically led to do something by God, things that were uncomfortable and I wouldn’t have normally done. When I did them I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy. This is NOT what someone who is having good things withheld from them would feel, but instead is something that someone feels when they know they have heard and listened to and chosen to walk closely with someone that loves them and wants only the best for them.


To simply know this and preaching that God’s word is a loving instruction manual for the best life He has created me for doesn’t do justice to actually living life with an all powerful and loving God.


My son finds joy in being close to me, holding my hand and knowing that he has NOTHING to worry about and that nothing can hurt him if he is with me. He lets go of his desires to run across the street, not because it doesn’t look fun or tempting anymore but because being close to me is so much better!


There is joy beyond words when we are close to God and trusting His direction and protection, and something beautiful to the idea that, in obedience, we are close enough to hear God’s gentle whisper of comfort and love. (1 Kings 12:11-13)


This is what remaining in God’s love is – and it changes EVERYTHING!


We don’t obey because of consequences/punishment or even because there is a carrot hanging in front of us that we hope to get if we listen well enough, we obey because it’s an opportunity to trust and let God make the decisions we don’t need to make, it’s a chance to be close and to find something SO much better than the plastic and temporary pleasures of the world.


Obedience isn’t about “do this or else” it’s about “please stay with me – it’s better here” and to let go of the worries of this world and experience joy beyond our wildest dreams.


May your understanding of obedience be changed forever and may you find and embrace the AWESOME joy that comes with being close to your Father and trusting that He knows best.



Audio: Teaching Our Children the Value of Quiet (and boredom)

Teaching our Children the Value of Quiet (and Boredom too) 

Melissa and Dave’s Keynote address #2 at the BC Christian Home Educators Conference

I believe that there is incredible potential for us to grow our children and a vital need for us to teach them how to embrace and look for opportunity in times of rest, quiet and ESPECIALLY Boredom! Melissa and I shared about this at a recent homeschool conference as the keynote speakers.

Teaching our Children the Value of Quiet (and Boredom too) 

For more reading in my Redefining Boredom Series follow these links:

Part 1: Room for relationship

Part 2: Healing

Part 3: Creativity

Part 4: Spiritual Growth

Audio: The Impact of Rules with Relationships on our Faith and Parenting

Click here to listen Rules – Relationship = Rebellion

Exploring how rules impact our tendency as human beings to rebel – toward our parents and even towards God.

Keynote address at CHEC (Christian Home Educators Conference)


For articles on this check out these links:

The Heart of Discipline: The Principle of New Covenant Parenting – How Rules Relate to Rebellion

Rules – Relationship = Rebellion : A Parenting Principle


3 Reasons Doing “Devotions” with Your Spouse is Difficult and 6 Ways to Help

3 Reasons Doing “Devotions” With Your Spouse is Difficult

And 6 Ways to Help

3 Reasons Doing “Devotions” with your spouse is difficult and 6 ways to help


Living a mutually beneficial life of devotion to Jesus as a couple is a beautiful thing to see. I’ve seen many couples do this and asked some of them how and if they do devotions together. Many do, and they enjoy the time of study together and if that is you, I’m excited for you! There are others though, that don’t find devotions as a couple to be quite that simple.


I was speaking to someone that has asked me to mentor him, he was describing how difficult it was for he and his wife to try and do devotions. By “devotions” I mean the formal kind, the ones that some Christians believe that they need to take part in if they want to be a “good Christian couple,” where you open a bible together and read it and study in unison, sharing your personal insights to the passage you are reading simultaneously.


He described frustration and anxiety in the midst of trying to study together. He found himself frustrated by her insights.


It turns out that my wife and I had a similar problem.


Many might suggest a need for practice or that there must be a spiritual disconnect. But I would argue that, that isn’t actually the case – at least not in the two situations I’m describing above.


Both couples love to go to church and discuss insights received from others speaking. We love to teach our kids things and bounce back and forth, sharing the opportunity and responsibility of answering hard spiritual question with our kids. We love Jesus and love seeing others fall in love with him, and in this case both couples are in ministry as well.


So what is happening? Why would devotions as a couple be so difficult?


Here are some potential reasons:


  1. It takes practice. Anything new takes practice and is uncomfortable at first, so yes it could be that you simply need to keep trying until you learn each other’s learning and teaching style.
  2. One or both of you may have a teaching gift. Asking a teacher to read a passage with the intention of finding insights and teaching it, and then subjecting them to someone else teaching them about the topic they are now passionate about, is bound to cause conflict. Honestly, I believe that this is the case for both of the above listed couples. I know it resonates with me. When I get passionate about teaching something, I want to share it. In fact, the act of sharing that insight with someone else is the culmination of my gift-set in that moment. Having to sit and listen to someone else’s thoughts obstructs that so it can make it hard to receive and increase frustration.
  3. Formal isn’t always necessary, or good. Maybe a sit-down devotional book isn’t the best fit for every couple. Doing things formally, although not bad, isn’t necessarily the best or most effective way to learn things. We hear all of the time that kids learn better when they get involved practically. Using their hands to engage in things like science projects for example. The lessons and impact is different when there is real life application. We also know and hear all of the time that learning things “organically” is deeply impacting as well. For example, when we are walking through a park and see a homeless man, we engage with the subjects of compassion and justice and interact with what the bible says with our kids, and the lesson permeates deeply into their soul. This is FAR more effective than discussing compassion and justice in a classroom. Yes, it’s hard to plan for these things because we have to be ready in the moment, so making sure you cover specific topics will be hard but is possibly not necessary, either way though the impact is far greater and more natural.



What can we do about it?


  1. Consider how you can engage in organic and practical conversations and mutual lessons as a couple when relating to scripture. Start paying attention to the world around you and make spiritual conversations a part of your daily life.
  2. Pray together. This can be awkward too, but practice and listen to your spouse’s heart as they express themselves to God.
  3. You may need to pray for a deeper longing and appreciation for His word.
  4. Try a different devotional book, maybe the ones you’ve tried weren’t a good fit for you as a couple.
  5. Consider taking turns teaching. Instead of mutually reading the same passage to both share insights, one of you comes into it with an attitude of receiving and listening instead of speaking and teaching.
  6. Consider that the word “devotion” is about a lifestyle, to live a life where all of your energy is invested in one direction, how does this reality change your approach to mutual devotion times together?



As you explore what being devoted together looks like, remember that it takes practice. You have been living life alone for a long time and adjusting to another person involved can be hard. Also remember that discomfort and frustration are normal as you move forward and continue exploring a life of devotion (both formally and/or informally) looks like together.


Finding a way to share what God is doing in your life individually with your spouse is VITAL to your growth and connection as a couple. If formal devotions are easy for you, consider expanding and adding to them. If they are more difficult, take the time to notice the faith connections you do have and appreciate them, and consider continuing to work hard to find a way to connect on a slightly more formal level as well. Fighting to connect spiritually is ALWAYS beneficial to your marriage.

The Myth that Marriage Completes You

Marriage Won’t Complete You

Addressing the “Marriage Will Complete You” Myth


We have likely all heard it before, the classic scene in the movie “Jerry Maguire” where Tom cruise tells Renee Zellweger “You complete me.” It’s this moment in the movie where everything seems right again. The two main characters have finally gotten their priorities straight and have realized how much they need each other. The line is perfect because the audience can’t imagine them living without each other, and their lives won’t be complete unless they are together. Or at least that’s what the director and writers want us to feel.


But this isn’t a new or isolated sentiment, most of us come into marriage and relationships feeling like there is something missing, and that finding that special someone will help fill the void we have inside. Whether it is because we are lonely or conditioned to think being single isn’t a lifelong option, or maybe it’s just the next step in life according to our families or culture. Regardless of the reasons, we believe that finding that special someone will somehow “complete” us.


I remember praying for a girlfriend when I was in high school. I was lonely and that was the only thing I believed would fix that need for companionship. When I actually found a girlfriend, I ditched all of my friends and put 100% of my attention and time into her. It was desperately unhealthy and it was sourced in a belief that is reflected in the quote above.


We take this belief into marriage too, which is often one of the core reasons we have conflict as couples. When we feel like things aren’t right inside or in our world, we look to the one who “completes us” to fix how we feel. The expectations are high and completely unreasonable because our fulfillment can’t come from another person in that way.


The reality is that marriage doesn’t complete us, the best they can do is complement us. Which is good! Complementing someone blesses them and puts our attention in how we can serve, bless and support who we are with instead of looking for someone else to fix where we lack.


The most beautiful and powerful marriages you will see are those where both people choose to complement each other, to look to their partners strengths and weaknesses, and instead of highlighting the bad, fill the gap, seeing the weaknesses as opportunities to care for and support your spouse.


How do you know if you are falling into the trap of looking to your spouse to fix you and make your world complete?

Those times are often displayed by words and feelings like “why aren’t you” or “why don’t you” and for some with softer hearts and words “I wish you would.” Although there are times when these sentiments are legitimate and fair, if you find yourself saying or thinking them regularly it’s probably time for a heart check.