By Irini Fambro
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here >
My first emotions were so young and innocent. They truly meant every word that they spoke. The ebb and flow of their voice in my childhood took me on a ride from “the best day ever,” to my worst. They were faithful friends. Although seen by no one, I unashamedly took emotions everywhere with me.
Along with the changes of my body in adolescence, came changes to my emotions: now they were loud like voices. Finding logic and reason behind my emotional swings of perspective and defensiveness was not quite so easy. Some days my emotions would be loud and others, silent. It was in these conflicting days that I silenced my emotions. I ceased to give them a voice.
In my adulthood, my emotions sought a more mature approach. They would disguise themselves as thoughts. They were supposed to just stay in my head. Eventually my head would reach capacity and send “my thoughts” that had lingered there for too long to my heart.
What I thought I had silenced was now creating anarchy within me. I had silenced emotions for good reasons, I thought they were not to be trusted. I had seen others being controlled by their emotions in dictatorship style. I refused to allow emotions to puppet me. Maybe God had created me with emotions, but I determined that I could reconstruct the very knitting that had began inside my mother’s womb.
And so I slowly began to stitch over my original threading until it was hidden. If I could not remove it, I could hide it.
But the voices,
would not stay hidden, they could not be silenced.
You see, I believed a lie. I believed my emotions were a part of my fallen state and not my redeemed one. The truth is that I didn’t like them because men described emotions in leadership like the flu - something to avoid catching as well as assuming it was a condition you could get over. My conclusion? Emotions would keep me from leading. And not leading would keep me from my destiny. It was simple, emotions equaled no destiny. So, R.I.P. emotions.
John 11 tells the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was going to have to raise my Lazarus (my emotions) if He wanted me to use them…and so He did. Like with Mary and Martha, Jesus did not start the process with immediate resurrection. John takes time to tell of Martha and Mary’s emotionally-laden request to heal their brother Lazarus. Jesus does not respond as they expected.
Martha is your classic aggressive personality – she doesn’t even wait for Jesus to come to her home, she goes out and confronts Him before He can reach her (we aggressive types like to control the scenario). Mary is passive-aggressive and chooses to separate from Jesus and stay at home and isolate…the silence will show Jesus His mistakes.
Jesus could have answered Martha and Mary immediately by telling them His plan to raise Lazarus from the dead, but He doesn’t. Jesus knew if He healed Lazarus first He would leave Mary and Martha unhealed in their bitterness, resentment, and disappointment. So what did Jesus do? Jesus wept (John 11:35). He did not weep alone, He wept with them. He knew His emotions and was not afraid to honor their emotions. Jesus does not just heal Lazarus, He heals Mary and Martha as well. Three healings happened that day.
Jesus showed me that my emotions were not just valuable, but a strength…a different way of being smart, and I needed to develop them.
Researchers are catching up to the Biblical value of emotions. Emotional intelligence is a measurement of how well you understand yourself emotionally as well as others. As you read the words, “emotional intelligence,” what did you think?
• “Oh, that’s not me, I don’t get emotional,” or maybe you thought,
• “Oh, that is so Jane…all she does is get emotional,” or,
• “yes, yes, yes…my ability to emotionally gauge is actually a gift!”
God designed so many ways of being smart. Your way of being smart may not look like the way the people around you are smart. Your emotions are actually a valuable strength! Being emotionally intelligent affects every area of our lives:
1. Personally, to develop your own emotional awareness and maturity.
2. Relationally, within your own family in order to grow in compassion and empathy.
3. Vocationally, in leading the WHOLE person and not just the parts that get results
Whether you're in the boardroom or the bedroom, life consists of being in relationships with people who have emotions. Emotional intelligence helps us to make decisions and solve problems in every sphere.
Here are some questions I ask when brainstorming, decision-making, or problem-solving through the lens of emotional intelligence:
1. Am I emotionally triggered by this decision or topic? If so, how is this affecting the clarity of my decision-making?
2. What are the emotional ramifications of this decision for myself, my family, or my team?
3. Is there an emotion that needs to be emphasized in this decision-making?
4. Is there an emotion being avoided in this decision-making?
5. What is the best possible emotional outcome of this decision?
I am no longer afraid or ashamed of my feelings, But more importantly, I see emotions as a beautiful way God has made me smart. My emotions are not a diminishing liability in God’s Kingdom, they have a valuable contribution to make.
Irini Fambro is a wife and mother, teacher and student, speaker and listener. She and her high school love, Kenneth, have two children: Kalila and Kenneth. She is an ordained minister that has her Masters of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and just recently finished her PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University.
Twitter: @IriniFambro | Instagram: irinifambro | Facebook: Irini Fambro