Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
This week we look at the fourth part of ourselves that we are to love God fully. I believe that in our current Christian culture that we love God the weakest from this area of our lives. To love with our heart would be to touch on our emotion. I believe that we are weak in the area of feeling and showing emotion in healthy ways.
As western Christians we have put effort into knowing God’s Word and serving Him (mind and strength). As I touched on last week, we have not spent as much time understanding and connecting with the Spirit. Along with not connecting with the Spirit, we have also lost connection with emotion to some degree. This is not to say that we do not feel emotion at all. I believe there is a powerful emotional response when we come to God. I believe that this is prompted by the Spirit and our heart is moved to come to God.
However, we have seen examples of those who have come to God purely on emotional response and then when hard times and faith trials hit, these people fall away. I also couple this with the passage of the parable of the sower; particularly the seed that falls on rocky soil. It grows quickly but has not root and dies in harsh conditions. Both of these examples, in my opinion, have an influence on Christians to repress emotion to some degree. I am worried about the image I might portray as a Christian if I show too much emotion. Peter Scazzero says it well in his book The Emotionally Healthy Church, “Most Christians, I am afraid, are self-conscious but not self-aware. We are more worried about what other people think of us than about wrestling with our feelings and motivations.”
Another area where I believe we struggle emotionally is being emotionally present. In our world of distraction, I find myself either worrying about my future or dwelling on my past. By doing this, I tend to detach from my emotions. When asked about how I feel about something, many times I cannot identify with any emotion. What I have done is taken myself out of the present and thus losing touch with my emotion. As friend of mine said once, “We are not angelic beings. We do not live in that world. We are human beings, and we live in the present.”
A final area of detachment from emotion occurs as a result of some sort of wound. I find with myself (I find this true as I am working with others as well) that my wounds keep me from feeling emotion at times. My wound reminds me of pain I do not want to feel. Since I do not want to feel that pain, I numb that emotion that brings up that pain. Now, what I have done is selective numbing of emotion. The problem is; we can’t selectively numb emotion. When we numb a perceived negative emotion, we actually affect them all. Why do I feel little joy in my life? I have numbed sadness and have not felt it to completion. Sadly, as I deny, repress, or numb emotions long enough, they leak out in other ways in my life; usually in the form of unhealthy anger.
How then do I love God with all my heart? First of all, I need to live in the present. What has happened, I can learn from and deal with the consequences. I need to own my decisions yet not let the results of them weigh me down. God forgives my past, I must do the same. I also must not worry about the future. One of my Bible professors in college said, “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” That has stuck with me for over 25 years. Yes, I must plan for tomorrow, but I need to live in today. I must be present in the here and now. Then, I am able to touch on where I am emotionally.
Secondly, I must own my emotion. If I am sad, scared, angry, then I need to admit such. Conversely, if I am happy, excited, tender, then I need to proclaim that as well. This not necessarily something I have to say out loud to everyone all the time. However, I do need to be authentic when someone asks, “How are you doing?” If I am scared, I need to make a point to admit that in some way. By owning my emotion, it does not own me and drive me to do things I will question later. I must keep my emotion in front of me. On a side note, I need also to allow others to have their emotions as well. When I become uncomfortable because someone is sad, I tend to try and over-comfort them not because he is sad, but because I am uncomfortable with his sadness. All I have done is to try to fix my discomfort and not help him feel his emotion to completion.
Third, I must take my wounded heart to Jesus. Those deep wounds that come up by the triggers in life situations must be carried to Jesus for healing. I first have to acknowledge what those wounds are and where they came from. Second, I have to be willing to look at them and grant forgiveness where it is needed. Third, have to begin to let the transforming power of the Spirit to give me a new mindset. The danger in all of this is that I have to feel those emotions once again. I don’t like it! But, I have found that when I do, He is faithful to pour healing power into my wound.
To love God with all my heart, I must get uncomfortable. I must touch, acknowledge, and deal with emotions. Once I have done this, I find my heart much more open to the Spirit and I find that my mind has been renewed. Then, I begin to serve God with joy and not obligation.
1. What stands out for you as you have read this article?
2. What emotion do you struggle with the most? Why?
3. How do you react to this statement? "God created emotions, they are all good."
4. What is holding you back from feeling your emotions to completion?
5. This week ask these questions of God about your emotions. Pay attention to what you see and hear:
a. What does this represent?
b. What might you, God, be saying to me?
c. What do I learn about myself in this?
d. What do I learn about life in this?
e. What do I learn about other people in this?
f. What do I learn about your Kingdom in this?
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