When Bad Emotions Happen to Good Christians

When Bad Emotions Happen to Good Christians June 17, 2010

There’s a broad swath of Christian thought out there that runs like this: “I’m a Christian.” (Or, lately, the more common, hipper-seeming, ‘I’m a follower of Christ.’) Being a follower of Christ means that I am filled with the Holy Spirit of God. That means that I am content, peaceful, joyous. So if I feel anger, frustration, or sadness, it can only mean that something has gone terribly wrong with my relationship with Christ.”

And that’s how we end up with Christians who feel that having “bad emotions” means that they’re not quite the Christians they should be.

It’s vital for anyone, Christian or not, to understand that there is no such thing as a “bad” emotion. Such a thing simply does not exist. Virtually all emotions are good, insofar as every emotion any person ever has is meant to tell that person something it would be tremendously beneficial for them to understand. That’s what emotions are for. Communicating important information about what’s going on in your heart, mind, and life is what emotions are supposed to do. “Bad” or negative emotions arise to show you something — to inform, explain, teach, point you to a place where you need to go in order to learn something important about yourself.

A “bad” emotion is like an air-raid siren. Its harsh shrillness is painful to experience — but it’s very pointedly telling you that you need to do something in order to remain balanced and healthy.

The only thing that can render a strong emotion “bad” is if you ignore or invalidate it, out of believing that someone like the person whom you want to be (or, worse, like the person whom you want others to think you are) wouldn’t or shouldn’t have such an emotion. Then you’ve got a problem. Because then not only have you ignored whatever it was that your “bad” emotion was trying to alert you to, but, in a larger sense, you’ve empowered a lie about yourself. You’ve traded the truth of who you are for a lie about whom you think you should be. You’ve ignored a problem your heart was trying to tell you about. By insisting that something real isn’t real, you’ve lied. It’s that simple — and it’s that problematic. Every time you determinedly align yourself with that which counts form more important than substance, you take one more step down a path that can only grow darker and more dangerous.

So the next time you have a “negative” emotion, take care not to resist or fight it. Don’t immediately attach to it the idea that it’s proof you’ve stepped outside the light of God. Instead, think of it as a means by which you can move closer to God. Because that’s exactly what it is.

Instead of telling that “bad” emotion what it is, let it tell you what it is. Stay with it. Make it talk to you. Let it open itself up, and reveal to you what it’s really made of, where it really comes from, what really caused it. A “bad” emotion means there’s a very real problem — and it necessarily contains within itself the solution to that problem. But you don’t get the knowledge that a “bad” emotion has to offer you for free. You have to work for that knowledge. And the working part is where, instead of dismissing or trying to scoot around your troubling emotion, you delve into it.

One day maybe fifteen years ago I was feeling angry, because my wife wanted to talk to me about our money. The moment she mentioned our household budget, I felt myself tense up. But instead of trying to suppress or ignore that negative emotion, I focused long and hard upon it. And through that — through basically allowing myself to feel all of that negative emotion, instead of just the tip of it that I had sort of immediately registered as anger — I realized something of which I’d never before been consciously aware, which is that my father was afraid of the world; he was afraid of life, really. So he always resolutely refused to participate with my mother in the management of our family’s financial assets, because at a deep level he felt certain that doing so would provide him objective, real-life proof that he had nowhere near the assets he needed to protect himself or his family. But the truth was he had all kinds of money. It was in fact his fear of not having enough money that drove him to make the great amounts of it he did. But he could never quite make enough to alleviate his fear of not having enough.

My father wasn’t really afraid of not having enough money; objectively, he certainly did. What he was truly afraid of was the world generally.

And from him I had inherited that abiding fear. And—on that day, on that morning with my wife—that fear had manifested itself in my angrily resisting my wife’s attempt to force me to face the “proof” that, just like my dad before me, I was incapable of financially protecting myself and my family from the harsh vagaries of the world.

And the sheer force of realizing that that was the loop I was caught in was enough for me to break it. Suddenly, I was free of my father’s weirdness about money. From that moment on I was able to be more realistic about not just my money, but about the world at large.

And I got all that benefit from doing nothing more dramatic than basically facing down one “bad” emotion.

Our “bad” emotions aren’t fleeting things of no enduring validity or substance. They’re a primary means by which, in terms exactly tailored to us, God very directly points us toward truths we could use to become more peaceful and content in this world.

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  • Awesome entry! Reminds me that that's why I love reading/praying through Psalms…

    Psalm 22:1: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?" Love it! He's even more dramatic than me! It's liberating to know that God is open to all emotions and wants us to come to Him.

  • So well said. I remember a friend trying to explain to me about the moral neutrality of emotions once and it just felt so…wrong.

    Certainly our reactions in response to our emotions can be bad, but the emotional response itself? Not so much.

    Great post.

  • Kim

    Brilliant! John, so often Christians believe that once they accept Christ all their struggles will be over and all negativity will be removed from their lives. Not true. We are promised struggle and persecution as part of the Christian life. Accepting Christ sometimes makes life much harder, although infinitely more filled with love and grace and liberation. The "prosperity gospel preachers" say that blessings will flow to abundance if all we do is pray and visualize the best life can offer; then God will bless us with our desires. Not true. God blesses us with what He knows is best for us and because He loves us so much; everything He blesses us with is His will, not ours.

    You offer excellent advice to explore our emotions instead of repressing them. God so wants to have a relationship with us; He is certainly big enough to handle our anger, torment, or panic — if we bring it all to Him, He will comfort.

  • Julie

    Great post. We should also keep in mind that Jesus himself often had "negative" emotions. Aside from feeling abandoned by his Father before his death, we can remember his extreme anger at the money changers in the Temple, and that time he cursed and killed the fig tree. That one always sort of brings me up short, because it seems so arbitrary. But after all, he was human just like us. So who are we to say we can't be angry or despairing?

  • Scott Spencer-Wolff

    100% Agreement John – emotions arise, then subside – what causes us to suffer is our being in resistance to them – because of the stories we write (to ourselves and others) about them. How much more authentic to simply acknowledge our emotions, recognize the gifts our awareness of them offers, and move on.

  • I agree that there are no bad emotions. I think the thing is though, that one can feel something without having to act on it which is were Christ-centered discernment comes into play.

    But totally, there's a reason for feeling everything and resting (riding or ranting or suffering or wallowing) with the more uncomfortable of them can teach us and help guide us. I think those who have dwelt with the most difficult things and have accepted "the dark" in them and kind of, you know, turned it over to God and let God lead to the lessons–or even didn't let God be involved but still lived in it and felt it and tried to gain understanding, I think those people have so much more compassion for others. I think it's the folks who deny the dark in themselves and are all "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (where?)…" are not based in reality and are not really connected to themselves or maybe not even (not to judge another, but) to God. God doesn't want superficial, I think. God created it all—the joy and the pain and it's up to us to make sense of it all; to create meaning and context for it by living it and living through it.

    Mary Linda

  • Hey, this is all great, you guys. Thank you very much. I know your words are helping others.

  • I really am so relieved to see someone write a post about this. I grew up in a home where emotions were completely invalidated if they could be addressed logically, which got me into a whole twisted mess. In church it can happen too, because if a church is too focused on making sure everything looks perfect. For my church, it was "You have to get past the stuff of life and rely on Christ." While that's a decent message, how it manifested was if you were upset about something in your life, wrestling with a bad situation, trying to admit mistakes, etc., you were too focused on the "stuff of life" and not enough on Christ. If you didn't have it all together, you looked enormously weak, which is not how it should be.

    If no where else, I think church should be a place of open emotions. I just recently started attending a house church with some close friends of mine, and I feel so much more open to work through the things that I have always struggled with as a Christian. I'm allowed to open up and admit that I'm having problems with x, y, and z, and how I know to do better but I just can't get past whatever. It's nice. It's healthy. It's healing.

    So, thank you. This means a lot.

  • carrie

    I can't tell you how many times friends and family have mocked me at times for getting angry or showing some kind of emotion that they for whatever reason think I'm not supposed to have (which I have no problem with…I'm kinda high strung) and say things like "Aren't you Christian? You're not supposed to do that!" Those statements are almost always covered with a cackle or a smirk as if somehow I let my "real" self out. I am what I am. I am a Christian HUMAN being. God didn't make us numb or stupid. There are ways to handle yourself and when I do it wrong, I admit it. If I am right, I admit that too:)

  • YAY! Glad you are writing this John. We forget that we are created with emotions and are expected to use them. It is natural and good to feel anger, sorrow, joy, frustration, bitterness, disappointment and all the others, God gave us those things after all. Look at the book of Psalms. It is full of heart on the sleeve sentiments. These people grieved openly, they expressed anger with frustration and feeling, they hoped longingly, they rejoiced boisterously, they desired vengeance without remorse. The Psalms are, in part, a glimpse into human emotion and how we deal with them, at least to me. These emotions help us deal with the things in life, and like you said often spur us to action, hopefully positive action.

    I had to learn that it is ok to be an person of emotion. IT is still a struggle, because I've been told for years that getting angry was having a bad attitude. Often by someone who's attitude was pretty lousy at the time. Yes I can temper it, and control how I react with those emotions, as I suspect that is the actions we do in the midst of an emotion that can get us into trouble, not the emotion itself.

    Besides isn't the "oh, I'm always happy and joyful, things are great, nothing's ever going to ever get me down" mindset rather dishonest? And isn't dishonesty a bad thing?

  • DonP

    I don't know. I understand the psychiatric reasons for as you said: "Ride that emotion. Stay with it. Make it talk to you. Let it open itself up and show you what it’s really made of, where it comes from, what caused it.". I believe this is where the whole proverbial molehill into mountains kind of thing comes from. Isn't it? However, I also believe much in psychiatry is whacked too. All emotions do not deserve our ongoing attention. It is human to feel most anything at most any time and many times totally out of context to reality. For me paying attention to every fleeting thought/feeling would be exhausting. There are times when I am literally startled by something that passes between my ears. I confess to having experienced some of the most vial as well as altruistic feelings that a man can have. I don't dwell on them though. For me it is what I choose to do, what action I take that makes a feeling bad or good. Do I rule myself or do I allow some chemical/electrical impulse to rule? I don't need to waste time trying to find out why I had a certain feeling or impulse. What do I do next is the more important thing.

  • Now having Tina Turner's Second Hand Emotion playing in my head….

  • MEL

    Nice one, John. In my early teens (and early in my Christian experience), I started to have mornings where I woke up with a feeling of resentment against God. Being in a very performance-oriented church at the time, I desperately tried to stuff that emotion (No! I'm supposed to love God!). I really wish I'd had someone talk this kind of sense at the time. It might have lessened the grief of the following decade as I had to wade through depression which, as I'm sure you are aware, is often caused by stifled emotion.

  • LoneWolf

    For being a "bad" emotion, God spent a lot of the Old Testament being really pissed.

  • Hmmm… I'm not sure I'm totally on board with this. I don't believe all emotions are "from God," and while I wouldn't know how to "dismiss" an emotion even if I wanted to, I try not to put too much stock in them, either. I DO think they're fleeting, for the most part. I'm with DonP in believing that actions are more important than feelings, and sometimes (often?) Christians must "act" in ways we don't necessarily "feel" like acting. But, oh, when we do… something amazing happens. One thing that floors me about Christianity is that it can be so counterintuitive – and so opposite from "the world's" wisdom – and yet, when you begin the experiment of acting like it's TRUE, it begins to work in ways you never expected. Almost like magic. Almost like there were something… supernatural going on.

    C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity:

    But though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings. Some people are 'cold' by temperament; that may be a misfortune for them, but it is no more a sin than having a bad digestion is a sin; and it does not cut them out from the chance, or excuse them from the duty, of learning charity. The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his 'gratitude', you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less.

    Consequently, though Christian charity sounds a very cold thing to people whose heads are full of sentimentality, and though it is quite distinct from affection, yet it leads to affection. The difference between a Christian and a worldly man is not that the worldly man has only affections or 'likings' and the Christian has only 'charity'. The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he 'likes' them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on — including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.

  • C.S. Lewis also said, "Faith is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted, despite your changing moods." I would say that definition applies to changing emotions, too. Emotions come and go, and no, they're not insignificant… but we shouldn't take them too seriously, either.

  • nelma elisa

    ***This is a good article. Thank you. I am one who has had to stifle and repress (i.e. ignore, pretend, dissociate?) many emotions. It is very difficult to express my anger, pain, hurt, resentment,etc. So, I have learned to survive by bottling it all up. Now I need God/people to somehow help me vent…and heal. I have heard ignorant people tell me "just get over it" or "just forgive and forget". IT'S NOT THAT EASY!!!!!!!

  • Gina Powers

    Daaayyymmmmmnnnn, John….your timing in posting this was PERFECT. I read this not long after I got in to work today….RIGHT after I'd been suffering through the HELL that is Central Pa. traffic. LOTS of negative juju going on in my truck today! When you start posting crap, I'll stop commenting……no, wait, no I won't. 😉

    Did I ever mention that board op-ing SUCKS?? The new one from Linkin' Park KILLS, though……

  • Loren

    Jesus wept.

    He knew how to act properly on his emotions

    The key is our response to our emotions – as John so eloquently put in his article. There must be a response. And the right response. We can choose to have a bad response to emotions….

  • I think I know what John means and agree with it. But as an alcoholic, I can not afford the dubious luxury of anger. I also need to be on guard when I feel fear. The answer is not to repress the emotions (which I take to be John's point), but, I need to look carefully and see how I may be misunderstanding a situation.

  • Susan

    Very thought provoking post John. I really agree that when we start to feel those "bad" feelings, we need to truly feel and not dismiss. That doesn't mean that we have to ruminate over every thought or emotion, but we need to be aware of our negative emotions. I have noticed that I used to either suppress my anger or instantly explode. Either way someone ended up hurt. Now I actually try to figure out where the anger is coming from and how to best direct it. Christ has been the perfect example for me of how to deal with these negative emotions in a healthy manner.

  • Rachel

    Here's my take on emotionally healthy spirituality:

    1) Learn to identify your emotions and validate them without judging yourself or feeling guilty about them. A feeling is just a feeling- a clue to something more important going on in your heart & mind, so don't be afraid to fully experience emotions that our culture labels negatively- anger, fear, sadness, etc. Feelings come and go, but actions tend to stick- that's why we should carefully investigate the messages and truth-claiming arousing our deepest emotions. Some may say that this is "obsessing" over them- I say that it's a vital preventative measure against sin. When we know ourselves deeply, we are prepared to take the necessary steps to act without sin.

    2) Look for the thought that stimulated that emotion without placing blame on anyone or anything else. "I'm mad at my husband because I think he doesn't care about me right now." not "I'm mad at my husband because he didn't take out the trash like I asked him to."

    3) Investigate that thought for validity and truth- does he REALLY not care about you right now, or is that how you're interpreting his words, actions, body language, etc?

    4) Listen to God's truth and offer yourself empathy as it is revealed. "My husband does love me, but he's not showing it in the ways I would prefer right now. It's OK for me to feel sad- it's so hard to think that the person who means the most to you doesn't care about you."

    5) Consider loving next steps- loving to the Lord and loving to people. You may need to journal, pray, make your requests to someone more clear, ask for empathy or an apology.

    When you fully validate and allow for your emotions without harsh judgments, check out each of your thoughts like this, and allow the truth of the situation to influence how you then behave (without blaming or criticizing others), I find that you can't go wrong. You allow the Lord to restructure your mind (Romans 12:2- Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will) without denying the fact that as humans, we are emotional beings. God created us that way & it is good.

  • Sarah Z

    How many times have we blamed ourselves for 'bad feelings'?

    It's time to be real and know that we're supposed to fail, that's why we need a Saviour.

    Thanks John. I've forwarded this link to many family members and close friends. 🙂

  • vj

    *sigh* things like this are why Lewis is my absolute all-time favorite Christian author (it's ok, John, you're right up there with him!) – able to distill Truth so beautifully…

  • If it weren't for C.S. Lewis, I would probably still be an atheist. He is the creme de la creme. I have to read 'The Screwtape Letters' twice a year just to keep my head on straight!

  • Can totally relate. I've long been one to shelve emotions because I thought that I wasn't supposed to reveal them because they were supposedly inappropriate. The problem, is that that shelf kinda gets full and saggy, and before one knows it, emotions are falling off that dang shelf, and you find yourself over reacting at a time you don't expect.

    When I first left my husband (an abusive alcoholic) several months ago, a group of friends insisted that I keep in touch with them daily on a forum we all participate in. I was allowed free reign to express exactly how I felt in words. I also wrote several letters, some of which I sent my soon to be ex, some I didn't, trying to make sure I was doing the right thing and for the right reason. These tasks helped me face how I felt, and why I felt it, and was surprisingly healing. Since then I have put distance from those initial emotions, although the pain will linger for awhile yet. It allowed me to move forward during a very scary time. Sure I am still angry, bitter and resentful. I am also a bit hard on myself for being foolish to stay in a destructive relationship. But writing things down, and now sharing has been quite helpful.

    You don't simply "forgive and forget" or "just get over it" right away, you bear the mark of the pain and what happened all your life. The events that lead to such well meaning but utterly unhelpful statements shape who you are, and aren't immediately recovered from. To assume otherwise is simply wrong. However with help, time, and of course the astounding love of a very patient and merciful God, you can grow from the experience.

    You'll find a way, just be patient with yourself and give yourself permission to feel. Emotions are a gift, it's perfectly ok to use them.

  • DonP

    Good for you Sylvie. On the forgiveness thing: From experience I can say that the pain and anger may indeed last a life time. It will get easier to move on each time it comes back though. The one big lesson I have learned about forgiveness? It's an act not a feeling. Feelings I have found, both good and bad, generally follow action. If you find it happening the other way around, you are doing it wrong.

  • M Jones

    I don't call myself a "follower of Christ" to be newer or hipper. For the past couple of decades, it's been my personal experience that far too many people who call themselves or think of themselves as Christians no longer actually follow Christ. The "conservative right," for example, behaves as if Jesus was a suit-wearing, xenophobic, racist, card-carrying capitalist, rather than a compassionate individual who expected his followers to feed the poor, forgive people who hate or wrong you, and love your neighbors. Period. They may be in it for political reasons or career advancement, or just plain fear of being considered an outsider. But they're not followers of Christ.

  • I personally hesitate before I determine one's status such as Follower of Christ. I hesitate simply for the fact that it is impossible for me to truly know the state of another's soul, or their highly personally relationship with God. To do so to me puts me on very shaky ground and opens the door to judgement, condemnation and inclusiveness.

    While I sharply disagree with much of the Christian far right, I cannot dismiss them out of hand as people who have rejected Christ for something less. I simply am not qualified.

    Are they in error in some of their mindsets and beliefs? Of course they are, and I am of the mind that some of these beliefs are alienating them from many opportunities that are available. These mindsets are likely also blinding them to some simple key facts, and are encouraging them to simply ignore others. But can I dismiss them? No, because I too have my own beliefs that quite likely have big ole flaws to them as well.

    Instead I think it is far better to do as Paul advised, keep focused on my own salvation, or just follow Christ as He leads me, and accepting his yanking me back onto the right path now and then.

  • In my severely Baptist household, my rage-filled father could bully me emotionally and physically, but I was as not allowed to have a 'bad' emotion about that because "Christians don't get angry". The swallowing of my fear and anger and knowing in my gut that something was not right was crazy-making. In my earnest attempts to monitor and control and 'sinful' feelings carried into adulthood and resulted in a breakdown. Years later I am still working on being healthy emotionally and that it was normal and o.k. with Jesus to feel angry about being abused. When warning bells go off, you feel uncomfortable or your gut tells you something is just not right, that's God's system for protecting yourself. Everything I have ignored my gut I end up with a bad outcome. When I asked Jesus why he didn't warn me of disaster, He said "I did".

  • "Everything I have ignored my gut I end up with a bad outcome. When I asked Jesus why he didn’t warn me of disaster, He said “I did”."

    OOO I like that.

  • Shadsie

    I'm bipolar – which means I have a lot of trouble controlling my emotions. I'm pretty much perpetually in turmoil. People who say "just have more faiiiiith in God and you'll be happy" are people I want to punch in the face, and knowing myself, I might just act on the impulse.

    I think it's a problem in society in general – the non-acceptance of emotional expression. If you're "too emotional" you're "not rational" (and thus implied, "less valuable") .

    For my part, I've learned to accept my disorder and to come to see it as "the other side of extreme creativity." (A lot of artists and creative writers were a bit off-kilter in the emotions/general weirdness department. My levels of turmoil give me the hope that I'm some yet-to-be-discovered creative genius). I do ride my feelings to create. I try to see pain as fodder.

    Thank you for this.

  • Melissa Chamberlin

    Me too, and I plan to remember it. I have just started to trust my gut above all, and it has taken me to great understanding. I too was taught not to believe in my inner voice, which I too believe to be Jesus.

  • Melissa Chamberlin

    Mary Linda,

    Your words are full of wisdom. I had a four year illness that changed my life, and almost took it on three separate occasions. I do not wish those years of pain on anyone, except my closest friends…seriously. What I gained in those years of confusion, anger, depression, guilt, and physical pain would never have been, what I believe to be, the biggest gift in my life. In the beginning I was so angry with God…all of my “as ifs” came out…as if my life hasn’t been hard enough, as if I have the money to get the treatment I need, as if you actually care. Yup, that was me. It wasn’t until ten months later and two hundred days of hospitalization that it occurred to me that perhaps there was some lessons to be learned through all of this. It was on that day, October 7th, 2005 that I started to pray, everyday, from that day forward, “God teach me your ways in the ways you know I will learn them.” Ooooo baby, what a ride it has been. Be careful what you pray for because he has been faithful. I still have the “negative” emotions, I still have pain, both physical and emotional, but I woudn’t trade any of it because I am a different person. I know what is important and what is fleeting. All of this to say that if I never acknowledged all of those emotions, I truly believe that i would have died. Literally. You see, In October of 2005 I never went backward in my healing, only forward. And there wasn’t enough money in my accounts to get the treatment that I needed, but I was treated at Mayo, one of our nations best hospitals. My life wasn’t as hard as it seemed, just spend that much time in a hospital, you will see people in difficult situations. And grace, sweet grace. I didn’t deserve a bit of it. How sweet it is that I am loved, in spite of myself.

    The people who are good at facing negative emotion are those that have practiced, and many of them, not in the name of Jesus. It is one of life’s skills. Some are child prodigies, some are meerly gifted (ha, like that…meerly gifted? I kill me) and some are quick learners, some just average, and some have a handicap that doesn’t allow them to learn the skill.

    Did God give me my condition? Nope. Did he cause it? Nope. Did he use it to teach me? You bet. And truth be known, I am not one of those sweet non complaining patients. I bet there were more gossip sessions about me in the nurses station than any other patient. I was a pain in the butt who required everyone to wash their hands upon entering my room, and no one touched me unless it was absolutely necessary. I spent all of those years changing my own bandages and removing my own IVs. I was tough, but I lived. I was not what everyone would describe as the world’s textbook Christian. But I learned.

  • Amen, Sylvie.

  • DR

    This was beautiful. Well said, I agree.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for this. Right now with what I am dealing with this helps. I have been told that I just need to forget about what I am feeling, and this has created in some anger. Reading this has made me feel like I am not wrong to have these feelings and the fact that I am trying to solve the reason for them is what I should be doing after all.


  • John C Hoddy via Facebook

    Thank you John. Good article. Emotions are definitely values neutral. It is ludicrous that some Christians consider anger, sadness etc. to be sinful. It’s very healthy to express and deal with those emotions, just as it is healthy to express joy and happiness.

  • Amanda McKim

    Woah! I love you because you give it to us straight! I think that there are so many Christians struggling to be human, because a lot of Christians are trying to live up to a standard that A.) does not exsist B.) or they are being brain washed to believe that their emotions are not Christ like, and to be human is gross, damning. Thank you for this John. I love having a brother in Christ like you helping us cope with ourselves. Your a true gift from God…and guess what….your human! 😉 <3

  • Jennifer Sandberg via Facebook

    Thanks for talking about this, John. Food for thought for all of us.

  • thanks; nicely written and expressed, which makes it easier to see its relevance in your readers’ lives. I’ve been in a situation for many months where when I expressed my anger in anyway, I would often feel condemned by many around me, even though I knew that my anger was well founded on things that were happening in my life. So I tried to push down my anger and hide it, to avoid being judged so harshly, but that turned out to be the very thing I shouldn’t have done. I started internalizing the anger, and being brutal with myself. I was a wreck, so one day a couple of months ago, I just decided to, when alone at home, to verbalize and vocalize, often with a lot of volumn (I’ve studied voice as a singer and actor, so I know how to pump up the volumn), my anger. So maybe the rants would last 5 to 8 mins, but afterwards it was all gone; I felt peaceful and actually could think calmly about what had stirred me up. And now the anger comes less often, and is less intense when it does come. And as where initially the rants would include cursing and name calling (if the anger was at a specific person), now it is usually a more rational expression of why I’m angry – though still pretty loud. [sorry this is so long]

  • Cadie

    Very much needed….good read. Thanks!

  • Jill

    Isn’t it amazing, how Jesus said to come follow me, and yet it is much easier to doubt his call because, in many cases, of the very real fears of self-protection in dysfunctional families, being outcast with even less than what is offered at home?

    It isn’t really until we leave that behind, work through our pain, that we see every emotion is an indicator of being a child of God. We just need to learn the language to hear its message. The real sadness is all the generations before us that never learned that sacred language of the soul, which is why they became so harmful– to us and others, as well as to themselves.

  • Jill

    A valid point. I think the distinction at work here is facing, acknowledging, and processing emotions for the blinking indicators they are, rather than allowing them to become consuming, overpowering definitions of ourselves, of others, of our lives.

    I for one cannot give myself over to wallowing, even when I feel it’s most deserved. Depression is sometimes like a outmoded, threadbare, comfy old cardigan. I can wear it too easy and just not give a shit what it looks like. Slowly I’ve come to understand my depressive times are blinking lights, usually referring to some grief I haven’t processed yet and some important task I’ve yet to accomplish. Always work to do.