As I sit in my peaceful Sabbath after Easter Sunday, on the heels of multiple Holy Week services, loads of activity, public exchanges with God and my church community; tears stream gently down my face as I sip my coffee. I don’t try to stifle, restrain, deny or judge the undefinable emotions that produce these tears. I know they are what they are – a jumbled mixture of the ups and downs of my soul.
I’ve relearned over the years to befriend my emotions. Reared with a threat of punishment for expressing emotions and churched in a community that prized heroic stoicism wherein emotions were denied, or thought unspiritual and not to be trusted, I found no place, value, no way to interpret my emotions. Like many, I learned to judge and disdain my emotions. So I disconnected from them, splitting myself from my Self. However, this is inconsistent with the Scriptures. Psalmists and Prophets alike as well as Jesus’ first followers display a prolific range of articulated human emotions. In Jesus too, we see one who is completely self-aware, appropriately emotive with his own human condition and unapologetically emotional as he empathizes with the fallen condition of humanity around him.
In the Resurrection story (Matthew 28:1-20), both men and women were a jumbled mess of emotions! The women, discovering the empty tomb, deeply grieved and bewildered hours before, where now in fear, than heightened joy and reverence, falling to their knees in shock and awe at the sight of Jesus. The men feared and worshiped him, yet some doubted even as they worshiped. Grief, fear, joy, doubt, awe muddled together all part of the story being told. Jesus stands in the mix, without judgment of all these emotional human beings! His word to them: “Greetings!” A word of welcome. And, “Go…make disciples of all nations…” No one gets disqualified but rather commissioned in trust. Jesus embraces our rational, logical, selves as well as our emotive, intuitive selves.
So what do we do with our emotions? I wonder if the Resurrection, which at its core ushers in the redemptive ways God makes us whole integrated humans, includes the befriending of our emotions. Might our emotions be employed in the process of our formation into Christ-likeness? If so…how? What if emotions are more like triggers toward self-awareness indicating that something in the soul needs attention, care, recognition, and prayerful dialogue with God? In Christ, we are invited into a life of freedom from the tyrannizing effects of judgment and denial of our emotions. The Resurrection commits our unique and varied emotional expressions, whether chaotic or refined, and utterly human to the story being told.
So back to my stream of tears this morning. No need to judge them, I let them be…a friend, a gift of release…a story that is mine uniquely told to Creator of all of me.What story are your emotions telling about where you are, who you are, and what’s going on in the depths of your soul?
– Elizabeth Khorey