Listening for God’s voice can be hard, and separating His voice from our own emotions can be even harder.
We ask ourselves, is that anxious feeling a warning from God or are we simply nervous? Is that relief God’s assurance or have we simply given into temptation?
When asked if he thought our emotions can get in the way of listening for God’s voice, Nicholas Hutchings, a freshman international rescue and relief major, answers, “Yes, I really do. That was something I thought about before I considered a career.” He wants to do what God wanted him to do and not just what he liked.
To learn God’s will for our lives and hear His voice, we must face the difficult task of separating His will from our emotions. To accomplish this, a few steps can be taken to better decipher our emotions from God’s voice.
The first step we can take is to learn to recognize God’s voice. We’re often told we must listen for His voice in our lives, but are seldom told how to recognize it. God speaks to each person in different ways.
For some, it’s a soft voice or an inner peace. For others, God speaks through the voice of others or the Bible. Despite the numerous ways He communicates though, we need to become familiar with His character so that we can recognize Him.
Spending time in prayer and in His Word helps us to better understand God’s character and recognize when He speaks to us.
Another step we can take is to not base our decisions solely on feelings. Just as we are flawed human beings, our emotions are also flawed and able to deceive.
The people we interact with, food we eat and amount of sleep we get all play a role in how we react in life. The major decisions we make should be made with our beliefs and not fickle feelings.
A third step we can take is to examine our desires. We all want things in life, both good and bad; however, when it comes to these desires and God’s will, we need to approach them with caution.
It’s easy to see “signs” we want to see, and ignore signs we don’t want.
We can want something so bad we’ll take any sign to more forward, whether it be from God or the devil. It’s important to take time when it comes to our desires to check that our heart isn't drowning out God’s voice.
Freshman chemistry education major Leslie Lopez, shared some ways she separates God’s voice from emotions. “Many times we tend to think our emotions are the Holy Spirit….Sometimes it’s just us confusing ourselves by our own emotions.”
Leslie says the two big parts that should be focused on are prayer and Scripture.
She gives Jeremiah 17:9 as an example. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
One last piece of advice to those making decisions: Leslie advises others to ask themselves after deciding, “How does that decision affect your prayer and devotional life? Does this decision bring you closer to God or not?”
If we end up feeling guilty over a decision chances are we have given into our own desires rather than following God’s will.
Amanda McCarter is a sophomore studying biomedical science.