God never runs from our emotions, rather he embraces them and meets us in our time of need, confusion, loss, pain, joy and triumph. God made us with emotions and the capacity to receive and give love.
The writer of Hebrews (4:12-13) says the word of God is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
When truth gets close to us, close to me, it often feels like a knife cutting deep. And sometimes we aren’t paying attention to what’s going on down deep beneath the surface being hesitant and running from feeling and fearing. Years ago, I attended a class taught by pastor and author Pete Scazzero. During the class we were involved in a simple yet deep exercise. We needed to determine what we are mad about, glad about, anxious about and sad about. It is a simple exercise that can help you get in touch with what is going on deep in your heart. It is a great list of questions to ask those closest to us to get a sense of what is going on with them, too.
When people are expressing feelings of anger, being withdrawn, or in a great mood, these questions help us pinpoint the cause. Later in the class, Pete’s wife Geri stood up. She was talking about her move toward being healthy. I must confess at that point I was ready to start doodling on my paper instead of taking notes. But as she stood she shared her steps to emotional health.
She started by saying, ‘I Quit!’ So, I started listening thinking this could be juicy. She went on to say, ‘I quit being afraid of what others think, I quit lying, quit denying my anger and sadness and fear. I quit blaming, overfunctioning and faulty thinking and I quit living someone else’s life.’
I am not sure why some of us don’t want to recognize when we are sad or mad or glad or afraid or why we are not willing to quit (like Geri did). Some of us may have been raised in families where thinking was encouraged and feeling was a sign of weakness. Some of us may have grown up in families where feelings were seen as weak. Maybe we were raised in a stoic home, where crying was not allowed and we were told to suck it up and move on or if you cried, someone said, ‘I’ll give you something to cry about!” Or, ‘Why be sad, after all, life is tough, just move on.’ Emotions are not signs of weakness. Live aware and pay attention to what is going on inside.
Sometimes what we are feeling is a sign that God is up to something in us, stirring us to be better — so be curious about it. Look beneath the surface and at the unfinished or broken stuff in your heart. Remember God loves you no matter what and there is no emotion or mess in your life that can persuade him to stop loving you.
Bernie Federmann is the pastor of Lompoc Foursquare Church. He can be contacted at 736-2772 and through the church’s website, www.mylfc.com.