Image Credits: www.flickr.com
Lately I’ve been experiencing what I can only describe as an emotional freeze. When faced with something bigger than I want to deal with, my emotions seem to arrest my physical body and I feel unable to move into any kind of action.
Internally, I am ducking for cover, crying out for Jesus to make it go away. I just want to move on from that place. But in His goodness, He doesn’t fix it. He doesn’t take it away. Instead, He allows me to experience the full scope of the feelings I would hope to escape. I call this His goodness because – although it feels anything but good – I know it is the invitation of a loving God to experience several things which He has planned for me and which I have prayed to know.
John 17:3 says that the essence of eternal life is to know Jesus. I cannot know Him if I am not willing to step into His life and experiences. Jesus never ran from pain. In fact, He willingly subjected Himself to emotionally volatile situations, because He loved the people those situations involved. He is still doing this today. I can’t imagine – as much as He loves us – that He is standing by, watching our pains and sufferings with an aloof heart. I think His heart breaks with our hearts as we go through difficult things.
I often pray for God to let my heart be broken over the things His heart is broken for. The inevitable and consistent result is emotional pain, as I feel in my own heart the deep sadness and compassion which God carries for those He loves.
At the prompting of God’s Spirit, I have asked for each of my children. I have asked for the husband I have. I have asked for friendships that would never have budded and developed without His help. But with each of these answers to prayer, there comes a cost to my emotional stability. While I would prefer a sea of glass, with calm waters on all sides, the reality is that relationships are turbulent. They are full of emotional toil. They require the sacrifice of our sleep sometimes, our tears and our time. They consume our thought life and the energy of our spirits. They often require doing what we don’t really feel like doing, because we would rather just sit back and enjoy the ride of life.
This is not to say that we can’t have peace. Nor am I suggesting that there is something amiss in setting aside the tough stuff and focusing on being thankful for and enjoying the life we’ve been given. Both of these things are Scriptural and important. But I think there must be a balance, in order to live as God has called and created us to. Scripture warns of the dangers of seeking and proclaiming peace in a time when the path we are facing is not one filled with peace, but rather conflict – and necessary conflict (Jeremiah 6:13-14).
The reality is that there will be conflicts and confrontations we must face, with God and with each other. And avoiding what we need to both face and embrace can have deep repercussions. Too much enjoyment usually amounts to apathy and overindulgence, which lead to laziness and bondage. Too much emotional turbulence usually leads to high amounts of stress and being overwhelmed, which also usually lead us into bondage of some kind. Bondage always carries a heavy price tag, not only for us as individuals, but for our friends, families, churches and communities. Not much happens in the vacuum we’d like to think we live in.
We can always know the peace of Jesus’ presence, as He is with us in all of our troubles. But I often find myself wanting a peace that prevents me from encountering troubles at all, and that is not true peace. Avoiding emotional turbulence at all costs is a form of bondage, and in my painful situations, God is ever so gently beckoning me out from beneath my umbrella and into the storms where He can give me true peace and teach me to live and to love in Spirit and in truth – not in emotional instability.
My goal for today is to face the emotionally volatile situations of my life trusting that God has placed them in my path out of His goodness. As I come face to face with what I would rather avoid, I will take a deep breath, pray for wisdom and grace, and speak and act from His Spirit. It may mean more tears and more heartache than I want to know, but if I am to know Jesus, and if I am to love the people He has surrounded me with, then I must know the life He lived – the life that came to lay itself down for others..the life that came to serve, not to be served.
Lord, teach me, teach us, to live and move and have our very being in You. You understood what it meant to embrace what humanity would seek to avoid. Lead us into the hard places, just as you went into them Yourself, that we might know the measure of Your love that led You to give Yourself for us.