After spending time this week in deep sadness I remembered a section in the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book that related to the way I’ve been feeling. I’ve blogged recently about spiritualizing away conflict which was one of “The Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality”. The one I want to visit today is Ignoring the Emotions of Anger, Sadness, and Fear.
Many of us Christians believe wholeheartedly that anger, sadness, and fear are sins to be avoided, indicating something is wrong with our spiritual life. Anger is dangerous and unloving toward others. Sadness indicates a lack of faith in the promises of God; depression surely reveals a life outside the will of God! And fear? The Bible is filled with commands to “not be anxious about anything” and “do not fear” (see Philippians 4:6 and Isaiah 41:10).
So what do we do? We try to inflate ourselves with a false confidence to make those feelings go away. We quote Scripture, pray Scripture, and memorize Scripture—anything to keep ourselves from being overwhelmed by those feelings!
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Page 26
Wow…that is so true. David certainly didn’t avoid those feelings…all throughout the Psalms he poured out his emotions to the Lord, and was honest about how he felt!
I’ve stated in the past that my pattern has been to run from pain. Whether it is work, a cause, a relationship…I will find anything that I can dive into in order to minimize the pain that I carry in my heart. The busier I can make myself, the more noise I can have in my life, the better… that way I can ignore the pain and whatever it is the Lord is trying to teach me from the “dark night of the soul” He is trying to work.
Like most Christians, I was taught that almost all feelings are unreliable and not to be trusted. They go up and down and are the last thing we should be attending to in our spiritual lives. It is true that some Christians live in the extreme of following their feelings in an unhealthy, unbiblical way. It is more common, however, to encounter Christians who do not believe they have permission to admit their feelings or express them openly. This applies especially to the more “difficult” feelings of fear, sadness, shame, anger, hurt, and pain.
Yet how can I listen to what God is saying to me and evaluate what is going on inside me when I am so imprisoned?
To feel is to be human. To minimize or deny what we feel is a distortion of what it means to be image bearers of our personal God. To the degree that we are unable to express our emotions, we remain impaired in our ability to love God, others, and ourselves well. Yet, as we saw in the previous chapter, our feelings are also a component of what it means to be made in the image of God. To cut them out of our spirituality is to slice off a part of our humanity.
Ibid – Page 26
I guess I’ve lived long enough in an emotionally unhealthy spirituality that I am ready to embrace my humanity and feel the emotions that come. It may not always be pretty or happy, it may actually get downright messy, but one thing I know…it will be authentic.
Yep. Authentic. That’s what I’m going for as I start to rebuild my life.
Thanks for traveling with me on this journey.
PS I’ve temporarily deactivated my FaceBook account due to some privacy concerns. If you need to reach me, feel free to call or text me at 425.241.0265.