Darrin Patrick (a church planter) once said, 'We fear our emotions more than a receding hairline. We don't need to cut off our emotions or let them control us. We don't need to turn into John Wayne or the blubbering guys who cry at everything. Our emotions can move us to love others and fight for the good. They can help our relationships rather than harm them. They can help us become true men and good men rather than men who are laughed at or feared.'
Amen to that! How many of us can relate?
It is so easy to take 'Be joyful always' to a whole new level, and suppress every other emotion we are designed to feel, in order to deceive others and ourselves that we are 'good Christians' - whatever that means!
Since the day I became a Christian, it has been my desire to be more like Christ. Wrongly I believed it to be a mono-emotional journey where one was expected to be happy at all times. Except for joy and the occasional sadness, I was a stranger to every other emotion. Don't get me wrong, I felt them alright, but I was incapable of discerning them! I'd often translate what I thought to be negative emotions, to guilt - I feared feeling them, I was guilty for allowing myself to feel them, let alone express them. I struggled to believe that 'there was now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.' I did not want to feel those emotions or let others know that I did...I guess you could say that I was in a state of emotional denial.
My denial was so great that I eventually became incompetent to discern my emotions. Be it anger, jealousy, frustration...I honestly knew not what I felt, all I knew was that it made 'my tummy feel weird'. I found it tiring, irritating and lonesome!
Gratefully one of my bestfriends, Mina, opened my eyes to my folly. Her words of wisdom were too good for me not to share...
She rightly pointed out that I was 'scared to admit that [I] had feelings like jealousy...because [I thought] it'll make [me] a bad person...and so [I supressed] them' She went on to reassure me that I was only human, hence I was 'allowed' to feel them and that bottling it up or running away from them, only makes things worse. I'm just going to go ahead and quote her because I loved the way she put it...
'These feelings don't make you weak or anything' but 'of course you don't act hastily on them but just admitting that you feel like that lets you understand yourself more'
How true! How liberating!
Be honest, first with yourself and then with others. I'm not encouraging you to moan, now that's bad! Christian fellowship is vital in order to uphold and encourage us physically, emotionally and spiritually. How can we be encouraged if we mask the struggles we face?
These emotions aren't from the devil! Truth is that even God felt many of these...
Jesus wept; He angered at the desecration of the Temple of God; one of God's name is El-Kanno - referring to His jealous nature when it comes to our relationship with Him...these emotions are natural but how we act on them define whether or not they're negative.
Ephesians 4:26 tells us, 'In your anger do not sin' - you see, anger isn't the sin, it is what we do because of it.
For example, human trafficking is an issue close to my heart - it makes me sad and angry. I could either use that to kill all the traffickers on the face of the earth (impossible task!) or I could campaign and raise awareness for the safety and better treatment of women and children. The likes of Martin Luther King .Jr and Nelson Mandela made history not because they ran away from their anger, frustration and grievances, but because they channelled such into positive actions.
In Mina's words, 'It's not what we feel but how we act on our feelings that makes us'
Let go of that façade! You never know, you might even leave a mark on history!