Sunday, February 13, 2011

Emotions & Reality part 2

Once, when I was raving to God about how unfair and stupid it was that I had to deal with this ‘evil’ emotional part of myself, He kindly reminded me that He was the first one with emotions. After that, all sorts of my ideas about emotions had to change. First to go was the idea that emotions were stupid, embarrassing, or weak. They’re not. In fact, they are godly.

“Okay, okay,” I reasoned, “They aren’t all stupid, embarrassing or weak, just most of them.” God momentarily complied with me for the sake of argument, but then He brought up this question, “Who decides which ones are good and which ones are bad?” You may think it’s obvious, as I did. Joy, excitement, happiness . . . these are good. Anger, sadness, anxiety . . . these are bad.

The problem is that God and/or Jesus have been described as having all of those, the ones I called good and the ones I called bad. If you think Jesus never felt anxious, read about the night in Gethsemane. I think it’s safe to define “sweating drops of blood” as ‘anxious.’ God reserves the title as “Judge of Emotions” for Himself. Anytime I try it, I have to stop and choose to trust Him instead. I will not be fooled into letting another person judge my emotions, either.

I have also learned that no matter how silly I feel my emotions to be, they are all valid. (Do you ever notice that you feel all sorts of things about your feelings? So confusing.) This means I am not allowed to pretend that any of them don’t exist. The sooner I am honest with myself and God about what I’m feeling, the better. My emotions cannot and will never change the Truth. This is very relieving for me to realize. Just because I feel unlovable doesn’t mean that I am unlovable. Sometimes I must trust the Truth in spite of what I feel. However, even when I don’t trust the Truth, it still doesn’t change.

As I practice trusting God with my emotions instead of controlling them myself, He is actually convincing me that they are more useful than I ever believed possible. He uses them to show His own feelings to me. Have you ever had a certain feeling, perhaps joy or protection while watching a child, and heard God whisper to you, “That’s exactly how I feel about watching you.” Nothing compares to feeling the emotions of God.

Other times He has used them to delicately and gently bring up places in me that He wants to heal. Many times these were places that I was so used to being broken, I didn’t know they could or should be healed. Trusting Him always brings healing.

Sometimes my emotions are simply a sign pointing to a physical need. When I don’t get enough sleep I may feel like everyone around me is a selfish jerk. They probably feel the same thing about me. When I need to eat, I sometimes feel depressed and that life is just too much to handle. When I have a cold and I feel weak, I am much more likely to cry. These are the emotions that really annoy me. I don’t want my body to have that much control over my soul, but it’s better to grudgingly admit it than to ignore the truth. These too, I can trust God with. Also, because I’m able to be honest about it with my family, they don’t take my moods so personally, but can remind me that maybe I just need something to eat. I don’t know about you but it’s always a relief to me to remember that I’m not a jerk; I just have low blood sugar.

There are only a few emotions that God has tagged with “These are not from Me” signs for me. Also, these are three emotions that you will never catch God having. They are guilt, shame, and fear. Don’t get me wrong, there is a healthy fear. If a gun is pointed at you and you don’t feel the flight or fight fear response, something is probably very wrong. (Since Jesus had as human a body as I do, I’m assuming he felt the flight or fight sort of fear a few times.) However, most of the fear in my life is not this sort of fear. Most of the fear in my life is the kind that perfect Love wants to cast out. This kind of fear can be defined as “A lack of trust towards God.”

He wants me to understand that I am totally safe in my relationship with Him. He wants to smooth away all my fears because He is big enough and kind enough to handle whatever it is I’m afraid of. He loves my fear away. When fear of this sort comes up it is a chance for me to understand His love in a new way. It’s a chance to ask, “Who are You that I shouldn’t be afraid of this?” I promise His answers are worth it.

Guilt can also be a good thing, if I had never felt my guilt I might never have felt my need for God. But now that Jesus work is completed my guilt is eternally removed and to return to it is to disbelieve that Jesus work is final. Since I acknowledged my need for God, He has never used guilt again. This is not to say that I have never technically been guilty again. With Jesus’ completed work, guilt is no longer an issue because I am eternally forgiven. At this point the memory of my guilt only serves to make me think that I am somehow cut off from God which will never be true again.

I don’t remember any time that shame was from God. In my experience it has only had one terrible function, to keep me hiding from the One who could heal my guilt.

My emotions are still annoyingly messy. I still usually feel that I would be better off without them. I regularly tell God that if I’m not allowed to control them then I should at least be allowed to give Him pointers about how He should be controlling them. But I’ve been without emotion, and I don’t ever want to go back. The trust being built out the mess of my emotions is more than worth it.

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