Author | Steve
German. Male. Lutheran to boot.
The only feelings I acknowledge having are utter triumph and bitter defeat in supporting my teams; anger (lots of it), mostly at inanimate objects that I often make animate; that tingly feeling every time I see my wife; and deep, passionate love…for tasty foods and drinks (where “drinks” means numerous different kinds of beer). Other than that, I don’t really have feelings. And if I do, they are all bad and straight from Satan!
But not as much as I would like to think. I have successfully – and apparently covertly – shielded my life from such pesky feelings, like a heavy-duty truck bed-liner. This is always apparent when my wife asks me dumb questions like, “How was your day?” or, “What are you thinking?” or worse still, “How does that make you feel?” I’ve tried answering honestly: “Good,” or “Ehhh.” “Nothing,” and “I don’t know.”
These don’t suffice. Every question after that is an interrogation. Why is this?
Because I actually have feelings…I’m just really good at ignoring them. And not just ignoring them, but proving theologically that they are bad and should be ignored (“proving” may be a bit strong).
The main reason I’m noticing this now is because I have two boys. They are watching me, and are getting good at not having feelings about things too…any things.
The other day – the only explanation is the Holy Spirit – I started thinking about this. I know, I know. I should have stopped it right there. But the Holy Spirit is formidable. As the Spirit opened me up, I noticed that I do have emotions…apparently a lot of them. And when I pretend like they aren’t there, I get real jacked up and it leaks out like a nasty old oil stain on the driveway…that the people around me keep stepping in…that I keep saying isn’t even there!
What to do?
Crazy thing happened: I found myself on the internets surfing through stuff about feelings (now I had lots of other apps open like ESPN, Facebook, my email…just in case someone decided to look). Once again, I can only attribute this to the Holy Spirit – I don’t go looking up research on emotions and stuff like that.
This is what I discovered: If I have a big sheet of different kinds of emotions and feelings, and I look at it long enough, I can point out one or two that I’m feeling. If I take those feelings and pray about them, laying them at Jesus’ feet, I find that He will often take me back to the list and help me dig a little deeper to some underlying emotions that are really going on that I’m trying to hide from myself. Like King David wrote:
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
~ Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)
At the depth of this is the enemy (see, they really are from Satan!). Ok, my emotions aren’t necessarily evil and from Satan, but I do find that the hiding is because of His lies. If I’m hurt and I cover it with anger, that I then cover with a thin veneer of acting indifferent, I’m listening to the enemy. Jesus says:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.”
~ Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
The enemy doesn’t want us to lay open and vulnerable in front of Jesus. He wants us to wall it off, bottle it up, and pretend like everything is ok. Jesus says you are safe to be vulnerable with Him – in fact it’s the only place you are safe and can be the true you, the one even you hide from.
What’s the point of all this? Well, for the past month I’ve been doing something I’ve spent all my life trying not to do (without even knowing it). One or two times a week, I take my devotional time in the morning, and I begin by letting God search me in front of these lists of feelings and emotions, pointing out what I am feeling. Then, I pray for Jesus to help me navigate these feelings, the lies of the enemy, and what is true. I let Him direct me to scriptures that help me know the truth, so His truth can set me free.
The clearest thing I’ve discovered so far is that almost every time I do this I have two main emotions at work: one that is negative and faulty and my attempt to cover up a lie of the enemy on my own. The other is often positive and in response to some gift of God in my life. It’s like there is a battle going on in me (hmmm?). And I’ve been trying to fight that negative battle all on my own by covering up what I feel, from myself and from my Defender. Covering up the negative feelings has made me less able to express the positive ones too.
Gentlemen, we don’t have to live this way. Knowing my feelings and laying them before Jesus has strengthened me, not weakened me. I’m not a mushy pot of emotions, but rather more free and able to be me.
Now I’m going to go throw this computer for not formatting correctly – piece of junk! (nothing to see here…move along, move along)