Emoticons… at the click of a keystroke emotional transparency has never been easier! 🙂 If only this were true. ): Unfortunately, humans struggle with emotional honesty. Not unlike the use of emoticons, we can be too quick or slow to admit our true emotional state, especially in our relationship with God. Today we’ll look at what it means to be honest with God about our emotions and how this directly relates to hope.
Have you ever met people who enjoy “wearing their emotions on their sleeves” or those who wouldn’t even recognize an emotion if it slapped them across the face? We are not promoting emotionalism nor the denial of feelings; however as Christians, we sometimes do both. We may feel affirmed in our faith by advertising the degree of our suffering far more than is actually the case. Yet, at other times we think our suffering is a mark of weak faith, so we pretend our pain is only superficial when it actually runs straight to our bones. While both extremes are harmful, I believe the latter is definitely the worst—discounting the significance of our emotional pain.
Being honest with our emotions doesn’t mean we become perpetual complainers, though it does mean we do not apologize for our fears and worries but find a tangible way to own them. We own them by allowing ourselves to feel their full force; we stop denying that we feel incapable, afraid, disillusioned or otherwise. Such honesty is critical for hope because until we really own such unpleasant emotions we cannot truly allow God to do the transforming work that needs to be done in our hearts and minds. He cannot heal what we refuse to admit even exists.
Though it can be painful, we must make time for the reflection that real honesty requires. Do not allow things like constant entertainment and general busyness to distract us from the reality of our desperate situation. Rather – whether with tears or not or with silence or wailing – in the place of holy desperation we lay hold of whatever faith we have and invite God to come and heal, renew, and restore our lives.
Scripture gives a special promise to those who do not deny their pain and suffering— The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Throughout the Bible and church history one pattern is clear – God hears the cry of the desperate.
So let us not run from the pain of our situation but turn it into fervent petition; in doing so, perhaps our tears will become the purest and most powerful prayers we ever utter. Nevertheless, our journey into hope requires honesty with more than just our emotions. Next week we will talk about the need to be honest about difficult questions of faith.
What Do You Think?
How is honestly owning painful emotions and feelings any different than sulking in them?