how what you feel reveals what you truly believe {& my mini-theologian}

May 21, 2013

For the past few months I’ve been struggling with a certain three-year old in our home. I shared about when a Sunday School teacher asked if my son knew his name. And how he’s been sent to the director’s office a few times. I shared my thoughts on how I pray for salvation at a young age.

I can teach him the “rules” and set behavior expectation. I can enforce consequences for bad behavior and love him (in spite of my desire to scream “Why are you acting this way!?!”). I can model kindness and respect.

But ultimately he has to choose good vs. evil.

So I have prayed he would hunger and thirst for righteousness. That he would desire to know God more and surrender his will.

Some critics may say, “He’s only three years old. Give him a break.” Believe me I give him buckets of grace.

The last week of school I found him sitting in the time out chair at pick-up time. Apparently on that day he hadn’t listened to his teacher’s request (well her 3 requests) by the 4th time she asked him to stop he looked right at her and stuck out his tongue.

Then he came home and threw toys (to which he received discipline both times).

While I prepared dinner he decided to go outside and ride his plasma car.

As I placed glasses on the table, he walked into the house and announced. “I just talked to Jesus”.

Despite the nuttiness of that time of day, he had my full attention.

“You talked to Jesus? What did you say?”

Without missing a beat he said, “God, please help me find my listening.”

We all are theologians. Even three-year old versions.

Did you catch his theology?

He said, “I talked to Jesus” and then said, “God, please…”.

Which may imply he correctly views Jesus as God. And beyond that he understands God is interested in helping a little boy find his listening. And God is capable of helping a little boy listen.

I recently attended a mother of boys group. The topic for the night was how our feelings reveal our lies about God (led by Terri Fornear author of “Dealing with Feelings”)…

Step One: Terri asked this tired group of boy moms to think of a situation in which we had a strong emotion (positive or negative).

Example–two boys fighting

Step Two: Then she asked us to label the emotion we felt.

Example–frustration & disappointment

Step Three: Her next question threw the group for a loop. She wanted us to consider what lie about God we were believing when we felt that emotion. This stopped many of the moms. Lie about God? Did we believe lies about God?

Perhaps another way to ask the question is,” when you feel that emotion, what do you believe about God?”

Example–God is not able to change my boy’s hearts. Only I can direct my children’s behavior. 

Step Four: Then Terri encouraged us to gather Scripture which reveal the truth about God.

Example–God loves my children. He can change hearts. He has a plan & a purpose for my boys.

Our feelings reveal our theology.

When you feel upset that your husband didn’t do enough to celebrate you for mother’s day–> “God doesn’t see me or value my sacrifice.”

God sees you. (Gen 16:13) He knows the hairs numbered on your head. 

When you are angry at a decision that was made by leadership you fall under–> “God can’t redeem their mistake.”

God will make all things right. He will redeem all things (Titus 2:14)

When you feel sad or excluded when you weren’t invited to a social event–> “Other’s approval and acceptance matters more than God’s”

God’s opinion is the only one that matters (John 2:25)

Take a second to consider a strong emotion you’ve had over the past few weeks. What does that feeling reveal about your theology?

What do you really believe about God? If you share a feeling you’ve had perhaps we can help one another find truth in His Word for that feeling. 

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2 MSG)


  1. carolhwright

    The strong emotions I feel when children behave badly, are irresponsible, or things/life is messy… Does reflect what I believe about God. Because for now. When I’m in that space I’m only thinking about fixing it, eliminating it – I’m not thinking “God you can redeem this”. I need to first know and believe God sees, he cares ANC He can intervene and redeem. If I would only slow Him to.

    Thanks Heather. Good punctuation to this mornings qt. very good.


    • Heather MacFadyen

      Great examples Carol…the misbehavior, the irresponsibility, the chaos…we take ownership for those things. Of course we need to be keepers of our homes and train our children in the way they should go…but it’s the extra emotion I usually pile on top. The annoyance. The frustration. The anger for repeated offenses. Those emotions reveal more than anything how I hold myself in such a high position of control and power. Thanks for joining in the conversation Carol. 😉

  2. heather carroll


  3. Lara

    Sooo good, sister. So good.

  4. Emily

    Wow, this is awesome. So needed to hear it today too, as I was feeling like I must be the only mom in the world whose kids just don’t obey, no matter how many times they are told and retold and lectured and prayed for. I also have a certain 3 year old boy who is a challenge to me these days, much like you described. Instead of looking at what my husband and I are doing wrong, maybe we need to look more to the “unseen” of what God is doing in our midst, and trust Him to be at work. Thank you!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thanks for sharing your own story Emily. Today with the rain and three boys at home I was struggling big time by 4 pm. You know those days you are sick of hearing your voice? So every time I wanted to correct out loud, instead I said a prayer for my son’s heart. Or prayed for peace amongst my boys. Or for them to want to honor one another. I know my oldest two boys have professed faith in Christ & received the Holy Spirit. So God can move them better from the inside than all my nagging and badgering. He is working. We just need to trust Him and play our part in keeping them on His path of righteousness.

  5. Laura

    Yes!!! I’ve walked through Jose questions before too and it’s always so eye-opening!!! (And convicting!) this reminds me that it really should be a daily thing, not just when a “big” hong happens.

    And basically I think my boys (4 & 5) and your 3 year old would be great friends! They also have a wild streak that seems causes me to be disciplining them non-stop. (Now drastically less than a year ago though… Seriously felt like every 5 min. a year ago.)

    Anyway, this was GReAT, thanks!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Wish we lived closer Laura for a play date! I agree…there is magic that happens around 5 years of age for boys. The disciplining decreases…
      I love your point here…these questions shouldn’t just be asked for the “big things” but the dailiness of life and our living theology. Our faith in action (and feeling…). thanks friend.

  6. Sandy

    There is so much in this post that has struck a cord with me this evening, so many ways I’m challenged to view my own feelings, fears and beliefs when faced with my 3 year old’s behavior, my 8 month old’s attachment and even decisions of my leadership in ministry. To be honest this is a bit painful because i have held tight to the belief that i am entitled to my feelings because they are “just” feelings, so now to be challenged that there is something behind them connected to my beliefs about God – well let just say i have a lot to repent and talk with God about and my husband will be getting a earful 🙂 (i’m a verbal processor).

    Thank you for sharing this

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Oh I get the verbal processing…thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Would love to hear more about what conclusions you come to. God is so gracious. He created us to be emotional beings (for me certain times a little more emotional than usual). The thing I realized after hearing Terri speak was how often I feel strong emotions with my kids which led to the lie: “I was in control, instead of God.” May God’s Spirit move to reveal truth in your heart. Blessings.

  7. dukeslee

    Looky here! I just left a comment!

    (Great post, my friend.)


  1. Know God. See Clearly. Walk Securely. {new series} | God centered mom - [...] written before about how our theology directly effects our living. Even though “theology” seems like a fancy religious word…

Pin It on Pinterest