The beginning of my Christian journey often felt more like a wrestling match than a mountain-top high like others described it. I had my high moments with God and believed he was beginning a good work in me, but the frustration inside my spirit was tangible and confusing.
Over time, I began to understand that I was actually wrestling against the very parts of me that were designed to help me understand and know my God. My emotions.
Emotions get a bad rap in Christian circles. As a new believer it seemed as though everyone was telling me not to feel. That “good” Christians are happy, content, filled with joy and at peace … always.
It might have been that people were actually saying that or it could have been my perception. I do not know. But I do know that the state of my soul was very far off from those realities. Instead I was sad, afraid, hurt and angry over many things in my life.
I wasn’t sure how this good and loving God would perceive me with all of that “baggage.” These emotions had been pulsing through me for years and were becoming poisonous to my soul. I knew Jesus was the answer, but I also quickly learned that someone reciting Bible verses to me about how to “fear not” wasn’t helping.
I could not will myself to stop feeling afraid. What I needed was Jesus’ love to touch me and lead me out of fear with his kind hand and loving voice of truth.
The Psalms are filled with raw emotion taken to God by people like us trying our best to faithfully follow him. The psalmists have freed me to see my feelings not as my enemy but as my help.
Our creator gives our emotions to us, therefore they cannot be bad. Sure, our feelings are not always trustworthy and are definitely not our path to true life. They are actually corrupted greatly by our flesh and our sinful nature, but they also have divine purpose.
Our emotions reveal our deepest questions about God, and our answers come only by discovering his character for ourselves through relational experience with him. When I do not flee my fear and instead allow myself to experience it, I can then run into God’s loving arms for comfort. I find myself held.
It is here that we experience his intimacy and love. Our salvation is actually worked out in authentic and transforming ways through facing our emotions and letting Jesus meet us and bring us to the light of truth.
We see this played out in the life of the very one we are trying to follow as Christians. Jesus wept at the death of others, and he felt deeply, often.
We even see in the Scriptures that he is angry at times. God was his answer. His father, our father is our answer, too, as we let ourselves be human and let God be God.
Kristi Swob, one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.