Emotions run wild, don’t they?
I have a friend who is enduring some hard times these days. I’ll hang out with her, and it’s obvious that, in her mind, everything in the world is stacked up against her. She’ll make these statements about how she feels, and it’s clear that her feelings are in charge of everything. You’ll invite her to do something fun later in the week, and her answer will be, “Well, we’ll see how I feel.” And there’s this awful weight with every word and expression that exudes from her. It’s like all she knows and experiences is emotion. And nothing can challenge or dethrone it. Her feelings are her reality.
But is that true?
There are these times when we’re trying to feel the nearness of God—but we don’t. In these moments we feel nothing. We stare out the window. We’re frozen, and the mind anxiously wanders. And at these junctures, there is seemingly very little connection between us and God—very little connecting us to the life of the world or the people surrounding us. It’s an island of emotional isolation. We need to be near to God in these moments, but it feels like we can’t. And so we heap guilt upon ourselves. We hear things like, “If you feel far away from God, guess who moved.” Or someone asks us, “Are you doing your quiet times?” And we quickly deconstruct that there must be some problem with our level of personal devotion.
In the midst of all of this, rarely do we question the validity of our emotions. Rarely do we call to question the authority of our feelings. When our experience with God feels lifeless, we decide there is no life there. We believe that the connection has been cut and that therefore it must be our fault.
But maybe this is a lie. Maybe we’ve forgotten something. What if our emotions are misleading us? What if they do not directly correspond to our standing? What if emotion, like us, is human too and therefore flawed in its ability to inform us of our fate?
So things like cynicism, loneliness, apathy or discouragement creep into the forefront of our experience and overshadow the reality; the reality of an eternal hope. The reality that we are justified and, even in our imperfections, called perfect by a God who says we belong to Him.
We have peace between ourselves and God, but we must choose it and truly know it, above our emotions.
I was listening to the words of a song recently that repeatedly, over and over was proclaiming, “I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive” and eventually I too joined in. At first it was difficult to sing. I didn’t want to because it didn’t feel real or genuine. But the more I did, the more that feeling diminished. And on some internal level, the feeling was replaced by a realization: It’s true. I am alive.
And it was so refreshing. Like something I’d forgotten had all at once been rediscovered.
Maybe you need to repeatedly tell yourself from time to time, “I am alive, so very alive” and experience it—in spite of the emotions.