Ever feel like the closer you get to Jesus the more emotional you seem to be getting? Yea… Ok, what’s up with this?
ETHOS, LOGOS, WHAT OF THESE PATHOS?
Never have I been much of one for crying, or much of one for any emotion for that matter. Most people know and expect this of me. I’m just “that chill guy.” Some however (many around me these days), perhaps wouldn’t say this of me because they’ve only ever known me as a Christian who’s really been getting to know the heart of God over the last few years. It has been a bit of a roller-coaster.
I’ve found repeatedly that Jesus is certainly one “thing” that can still make me cry. So a few might actually think of me as a slightly emotionally unstable dude – which is funny to me and probably most who have known me for a long time. Yet, it’s humbling, and really quite perplexing to me, to have to admit that the more I get to know God, the more emotional I become. Seriously though, think about that… that’s weird isn’t it???
NOT WHAT I THOUGHT
I concluded a few years ago that these “pathos” were no longer “pathetic” (catch that?) like I used to think, but still seemed strange and a bit unnecessary. One would think (or at least I did) that the more you know God, and of God, the more one would become free of emotions.
The more one would get such a firm and solid grip on life that everything could be filtered through divine wisdom and logic so as to not be controlled or even bothered with emotions – which can be so fleeting, misleading, annoying, embarrassing, trivial, wrong, dumb, …ok, you get the point. However, I’m the first to say, this just isn’t the case.
I know few people who esteem themselves to be as “logical” and “practical” as I do, myself. Yet, I have found that good logic only compels me to more emotion (directed though it be) and here, I have concluded, is why:
Within God’s holy perfection, no characteristic exists separately from another one. God’s love, anger, care, patience, joy, gentleness, etc., are all perfectly directed by flawless wisdom and understanding of everything. God’s heart overflows with such holy emotion for his creation that as the creation gets to know him and understand what he does, we are compelled, if not required, to feel the same things God feels.
SO NOW, WHAT SHOULD I THINK?
The things is though, I’m finding that truly discovering this is actually a bit of a painful process. I’m often so wrong, and so humbled, sometimes embarrassed, and sometimes really confused, and often I have to work even harder at thinking about or handling a situation that I would have otherwise, in the past, just shrugged off as no big deal. It seems like everything is a bigger issue these days then they used to be… and honestly, I don’t really like that.
I’m a long ways away from having things figured out, but this much I know: I keep seeking hard after God, and he keeps revealing his heart to me. This means I keep feeling more emotions, but it also blesses me with insight into things that I’ve never ever had before.
Most of all, I feel in those times of strange emotional, dumb-feeling, confusing, wonderful times, that I am closer to God than ever before. Not because crying makes a man more like Jesus, but maybe because being more like Jesus makes you realize things are worth crying over – all sorts of things. Things are also worth being really righteously angry over. Things are also worth being really exceedingly excited over! It’s strange, I know… I would have never expected it.
I’ve been known for saying this for quite some time, and so I’ll say it again. Our emotions never control our beliefs; our beliefs always control our emotions! And, I don’t think my viewpoint on this has changed at all. I just think the statement makes them sound awfully disconnected, but in Holiness, they aren’t.
Of course, we aren’t holy though, so we have to be pretty self conscious of what causes are emotions and why. As I believe Tom Holloday more or less says in his book, The Relationship Principles of Jesus, at one point, “Emotions can be a great indicator for what we should be thinking.” They can also be quite misleading, but of course, that’s why we keep asking for wisdom in all things (James 1:5) and renewing and directing our thoughts with God’s word and prayer so that “the peace of God which transcends our understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7)
CONCLUDE WITH A LESSON I LEARNED RECENTLY
Though I’m still not a fan of it, when I reason it out like this, I am somewhat excited to be dealing with these things. I come to God much more openly, able to say, “I think I’m starting to get ya on this one thing.”
It doesn’t change the fact though that I still don’t like hearing a song or story, having a good talk with my parents that actually makes me emotional (I love them but don’t always show it), reading something, praying for something (especially in front of a group of leaders), and just getting all teary eyed or even straight up crying “for no reason” – all of which have recently been interesting occurrences!
I leave these situations immediately thinking, “What the heck is up with that!? Why did I get all… whatever!?” And as I sort this stuff out with God (as well as the things that get me fired up emotionally other ways) I come to new conclusions with him that really motivate me in many ways.
One such revelation – after the sobbing prayer in front of a whole bunch of older leaders I admire and whom perhaps think I’m a little wacky now – I wrote in an email to our college ministry boss-man in the Kansas Nebraska area:
“If there’s even a little bit that we do know [darkness in a college student's life] then there’s so much going on that we don’t know. And so its biblicaly, undoubtedly important to ask for specifics when we pray, but I think we forget that so much of prayer may need to be just telling God we don’t know and then begging him for the things we don’t even know we need. If our leaders aren’t moved to beg Him for just simply more of Him, no matter where and how we are, then why would our students ever be?”
I don’t know that I ever would have completed this thought had I not had to first think over why God prompted me to pray for something He and I both knew would get me all emotionally messed up… in front of people. But dang, I’m glad I did now, cause this thought really motivates me!
Especially for men, but more and more for the women too, dealing with or speaking on emotions may come hard to some, as I feel it has for me over the years. Even our vocabs are so limited in regards to emotions. We either are controlled by them, or we ignore them. Neither can be the healthy solution. So I aim to figure out what the solution is, and I’m a little bit excited about what God is showing and teaching me, even though it’s not always fun.
So are you afraid of emotions? Not at all? Struggled with this in the past any? Experience? Thoughts? Advice? Let me know what you think on this topic. I’d be thrilled to hear some thoughts on this subject.