There's no denying it or hiding it, I am an emotional person. I won't watch movies that I know will make me sad, I love a good belly laugh, and if I'm angry, you're going to know about it!
Since I was a young teen, I have been very aware that I feel things, deeply. I have thrown myself into relationships, with all of my heart, and when I invest in someone their joys become my joys, and their pain becomes my pain.
I have spent hours analysing conversations, crying over broken relationships, and writing heartfelt letters to friends and loved ones. Sometimes (like in the latter example) this is a wonderful thing, sometimes it is damaging to others, and to me.
As an adult, I'd like to think I can handle my emotions more maturely. However the reality is that I am an optimistic extrovert with diagnosed anxiety, and I often feel like Ron Burgundy, trapped inside a glass cage of emotion.
David, a man after God's own heart, seems to have found himself in such a cage sometimes. David, overcome by joy, danced around in public in his undies (2 Samuel chapter 6, verse 14), much to the chagrin of his wife. This outgoing, joyful act followed directly after David was angry at God and fearful of him (2 Samuel chapter 6, verses 8-9).
I know what it's like to have emotions, one after the other, in fierce, quick succession too. David's life reveals that he often made bad decisions based on intense emotions (such as lust, desire, and anger in 2 Samuel chapter 11), but he also repented and worshipped God with that same intensity (Psalm 51).
Is it ok, for a Christian, to be SO emotional?
I believe that God created me the way that I am for a reason, I think it is a great thing that I can feel compassion and empathy in such a way that I can deeply connect with people. I love to worship God loudly and joyfully and outwardly (probably not as outwardly as David!) however, I don't believe that God wants me to be subject to my emotions.
Proverbs chapter 25 verse 28 likens a person without self control to a city broken into, with its walls torn down. I have had (many) moments in my life where my emotions have taken control, and I can definitely understand what the writer of Proverbs is getting at. In those moments I have felt ravaged, exhausted, and like any walls of self preservation have been removed. Being subject to my emotions is not a great way to live. There must be a better way.
A better way to live
Jesus too was often moved by his emotions. He loved the rich young ruler (Mark chapter 10 verse 21), he wept over his friend Lazarus' death (John chapter 11 verse 32-35), and he rejoiced with his friends (Luke chapter 10 verse 21). He wasn't afraid to show righteous anger (John chapter 2 verses 13-17), or call out hypocrisy (Matthew chapter 15 verse 7).
Unlike David (or me), Jesus is perfect in all his emotions. Instead of being a slave to his feelings, Jesus understood a better way to live. He was moved by his emotions, but not controlled by them.
James (chapter 1verse 15, 17) says that when we follow our own selfish, uncontrolled, desires we find death, not life. Life, everything “good and perfect”, comes straight from God the Father. Jesus did only what he saw the Father doing (John chapter 5 verse 19), and so he experienced true life.
I can't be Jesus, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, I can try to be like Jesus.
I read somewhere that our emotions are gauges, not guides, of where our hearts are at. If my heart is fixed on Jesus, I won't fly off the handle at someone I disagree with, instead I will respond with patience and understanding (Proverbs chapter 14 verse 29). I won't stress about money, I'll trust in God to provide (Philippians chapter 4 verse 6).
Instead of hatred, jealousy, anger, and self-centredness, I can feel and display love, self-control, gentleness, and kindness (Galatians chapter 5 verses 19-23). I can love others in healthy ways, with appropriate boundaries that protect them and me (Luke chapter 5 verse 16).
I can only live this way if I choose not to be held captive by my emotions, if I desire and choose to be like Jesus, living by the power of the Spirit. I don't want to be trapped and controlled by my emotions, and I don't have to be. Jesus has shown us there is a better way to live.
Jess is a wife and mum who loves God and loves people and is working at owning and understanding her emotions in a healthy way (not always easy for a sleep deprived, first time mum!) She likes having a laugh at movies such as Anchorman, and is passionate about learning to live like Jesus, even though she has a long way to go.
Jess Currie’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jessica-currie.html
Jess is married to Colin and they have a young daughter who is teaching them more than they are teaching her. Jess is also a recent college graduate who has no idea what she will do with her ministry degree, but is passionate about following Jesus wherever he may lead.
Jessica Currie’s previous articles may be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jessica-currie.html