July 14, 2014

We're Going to Need a Map


We need to go back to the drawing board...

In the beginning God created everything, with the glory of all creation being man and woman made in His likeness and image. And in this Imago Dei, He crafted humans to experience and mirror feelings and emotions, for He is a God with feeling and emotion. These feelings and emotions would show their colors out of the overflow of the one's heart. And it was good, because the whole of creation was in harmony, peace, and perfection.

Of course this didn't last long once we start reading Genesis chapter three: The fall ripples it's ways through everything, introducing sin, fracturing everything. The hearts of mankind were broken and hardened towards God, which meant we were now experiencing and mirroring emotions in an unrighteous way we didn't before, and some emotions, like insecurity for instance, we're totally off the radar until that wrecking day. Suddenly, emotions could now weave themselves into our thoughts, words, and actions in ways they didn't before. We hurt ourselves and other with them.

See, emotions in and of themselves... they're not really the problem. They're more like manifestations or portrayals of the real problem--sin nature residing in the hearts of mankind. In other words, they're not simply symptomatic. And they don't even deserve the bad reputation many Christians have given them.

If we view feelings and emotions as symptoms we don't honor or give the appropriate weight they have. I mean, let's put that theory in regards to God's perspective: When God gets angry is that anger merely a symptom? When God rejoices is that merely a symptom too? I think there's more to emotions than just that; they cannot be just labels of symptoms. No. They're far more subjective portrayals of a deeper objective reality.

And this is what I want to wrestle and flesh out in this series. I've been learning so much as I'm going through and studying this topic. 

Here's the thing--humans (Christians included) can have a tendency to go to one of two extremes when it comes to our feelings and emotions: We either stuff, hide, or go into hyper-control mode thinking emotions are evil and to be avoided (the mistake of many believers), or we go to the other end of spectrum, and foolishly regard them as our guiding lights in life (the mistake of many non-believers). But neither one of these are right. Turns out there's another way...

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I want us to picture our lives as adventures--amazing journeys God has planned for each of us. The treasure? Getting more of Jesus. Cool. Now when we head out on adventures it's helpful to have a map, but your map looks different than mine. No two maps are entirely the same really. Our compass? God's wisdom; it informs us how to travel this journey well and unriddle our maps--because they can be confusing and not entirely clear at times. Emotions though, those are locate on the map key; they can serve as reigns/boundaries to help us in deciphering the rest of the map along with our compass. 

Now, have I totally confused or lost you with that analogy? If so, here are some of the things we can find on the map key in reference to our emotions:
  • Feelings and emotions are real.
  • Feelings and emotions are not always right, nor are they always wrong.
  • Feelings and emotions need to be examined in light of wisdom (i.e. look at your compass, look at your scale, put some reigns on them). This is going to involve some reflection--looking at the why and the how behind them.
  • Avoid apathy--God is never apathetic. 
  • Self-care isn't sinful. Your human, therefore you need to sleep and rest and eat... you get the picture.
These are the handful of things we're going to look at in the coming days and weeks. Just to reflect on for now though: What's my current perspective on emotions and feelings in general?

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