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  • Writer's picturePatrick Norris


“Emotion” is a word that originates from the following:

“E” means “out”.
“Motion” means “move.”

Emotion motivates us to move out into motion. Emotion is what makes action. If you are moved to action, an emotion is behind it.

For some, emotions are only imagined as drama, turbulence and the unpredictable chaos someone is bringing into our space. The word “emotional” stirs reflections of escalating intensity, disorganization, swinging from extremes, having no limits or guidance, a person being captive to the dominance of their feelings. Professionals call this an example of “explicit” emotions.

However, there is another expression of emotions called, “implicit” emotions. This means emotions can be understated, even unconscious, and without an awareness of feeling. Our absence of conscious emotional awareness is because we are unattuned to our present stimuli, or even our biological reactions; the way our bodies process emotions.

Whether a person is acting from an implicit (unconscious) or explicit (conscious) emotion, the emotions still are the compelling factor in our actions. This is true whether a person’s actions are executing, avoiding, or completely shutting down.

If actions are always motivated by emotion, then we need to ask, “Does God care about our actions?” And of course, the answer is “yes!”.

God wants us to “act” towards Him in love, faith, worship, obedience, receptivity to His nurture, and more. God wants us to have “acts” towards ourselves in self-compassion, self-kindness, and self-encouragement. God wants us to have specific “acts” towards family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and more.

If all our human actions are motivated by emotions, then emotions are necessary to function spiritually.

Throughout Scripture we see admonitions to “live by faith”. James says, “Faith without works is dead.” Faith must be action oriented or it is not faith at all. You cannot have “works” without movement. Movement is motion. E-motion is to move out in motion. So even faith itself is emotional!

Isn’t faith a decision? Yes. Faith begins as a choice. But faith must mature by emotional integration, as emotions must be integrated with intention, choices, preferences, and values. Many say they have faith, but their emotional disintegration puts them in constant conflict with their intentions, choices, preferences and values. So, they say they believe, then “act” in opposition to what they say they believe.

When a person says they have certain moral standards - but they live in conflict with those standards - they are disintegrated. Interesting enough, this is the real meaning of lacking integrity. Integrity is when we are fully aligned with our values and behaviors.

When a person says they believe God is their source for material provision - but they live in anxiety, self-preservation, panic and striving to control their outcome – they are disintegrated.

When a person says they love God with all their heart – but they neglect consistent church attendance, find reasons to not embrace devotional times, or prioritize social media reading over affections for God’s Word – they are disintegrated.

From a brain perspective the aspired beliefs and standards are rehearsed and trained into their orbital prefrontal cortex. This is where the rational, logical and doctrinal compartmentalization happens.

The limbic system of the brain is known as the emotional brain. The emotional brain, or midbrain, is where our emotional and relational injuries are housed. The part of the brain correlates with the Book of Hebrews when it speaks of a root of bitterness springing up to trouble us (excite, agitate or compel) and defile us (stain our sense of identity) (Hebrews 12:15).

Disintegration is when we have our cognitive, prefrontal cortex believing and intending one thing, and our emotional, limbic system believing and intending an opposing thing.