Emotions. Hmm, I have a volatile relationship with them. Sometimes they enrich my life, bringing me colors of richness and intensity that paint brightly over all parts of my life. Other times, they tear through my canvas, ripping out anything that is not secured onto truth and ravages it, leaving me with frayed problems, issues, and insecurities that ensnare my thoughts and reactions. All too often, I find myself pondering why God would create us, and especially me, with these things, which seem to be my friend for one moment and then turn on me the next.
However, the real question is whether these emotions have any real control over my life, or whether the fact that I experience such a wide variety of them at a deeper level than most means that I am supposed to let them carry me through the different colors of this journey. I’ve heard many times over the years that I am the chooser of my own feelings and emotions and that whatever I am feeling, whether that be happy, sad, excited, or depressed, that is subject to my own will and I should have complete control over them. Yet, through my experience, it’s really not that simple. I may be able to choose joy, which I strive to do in all occasions, but that does not mean that I do not still feel sad, or excited, or depressed. These lingering emotions, even with due mental strength, cannot and do not completely exit my heart or mind. I find it hard to believe that this is due to a lack of trying on my part.
What if I were to believe that God gave us emotions so that we could express them, enjoying the flavor that they bring to life. But what if I were to believe that emotions are a hindrance to my life, including my spiritual walk, and should be fought against in order to level out my mental activity? Like so many things, I don’t think this is a dichotomy. I am allowed to find a balance. Yes, God commands us to rejoice in Him always and to direct all of our thoughts and feelings toward Him, but I am convinced that He also gave us emotions so that we could experience and feel His presence in our lives, to understand what it means to be image bearers. I wish that I could just strike up this balance immediately, but unfortunately, I keep struggling. I find that the more that I struggle with not being able to transcend my emotions, the more I doubt that God is working in my life. For some reason I falsely think that the way that my thought process is working that day is example of where my life stands with Jesus. Yet, there are just some days that I am just sad. Or extremely happy. Or somewhere in between. I cannot try to re-evaluate where I am with God with fleeting emotions. It just doesn’t work. My life is already given to Jesus, and each day I can struggle, gripe, or rejoice in Him. But in my rejoicing, there might be heartache, happiness, or just plain struggle with my circumstances. And it’s okay to feel those things, as long as I am fixing my eyes on eternal things.
AND…there is so much freedom in Jesus that covers all of these things. Not freedom fromemotions, but freedom for and through. His salvation encompasses all of my life, his love fulfills all of the voids that negative sin (and thoughts) destroy, and his peace penetrates whenever I feel weary, anxious or upset. We are to rejoice with him, to take strength in his joy, which is set apart from the joy of the world. This is what my focus is on…God, your joy is my strength. Each and every day, each and every emotion, I will rejoice in your heart, your purpose, and your identity. Letting go feels good.