Emotions Are Not Your Enemy (#590)

What's so amazing about God is that he is deeply invested in the lives of his creation and often Scripture expresses that assigning emotions to God that parallel our own. And yet, many of us have been taught to cover up our more painful emotions instead of celebrating them whether we find ourselves in joy or sorrow. Love is not just a commitment it is expressed as a deep affection or concern. Brad and Wayne talk about the importance of our emotions and how they connect with God in ways that can touch us far more than the intellect alone. When we deny our emotions, however, we cut ourselves off not just from pain but from joy as well. They discuss how our emotions play into our relationship with God, inviting us into deeper spontaneity with him and more heartfelt engagement with people around us.

Podcast Notes:
Wayne's Tour of South Africa
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  1. Brad – I agree with your comments on the new Wonder Woman movie – I loved it!(BTW, it is a DC comic production, not Marvel). ?
    I saw the things you saw in the movie … God’s heart toward us and His anger at evil … WW’s statement about love fit right in with those themes. Also there were those who were laying down their lives to love others!
    I am over 50 and viewed it with my two teen daughters and husband … We all were inspired!
    When we left the theater though, I realized that some people who are bound up in religion might take a certain line from the movie and make all about something different … something done so often with scripture also. Sad.

    I love the way that God can speak to us in many different ways, even while watching superhero movies!?

  2. I think emotions are valid in that we do experience them. The questions that arise are what stimulated them (our state at any given point combined with what or who we are interacting with at the time) and what effect are they having (in particular our choice of actions in response to them). I trust it is reasonable to beware of being driven by our emotions. I would contend that our culture in general is very emotion driven (“if it feels good, do it”). I don’t dismiss all accounts of things I haven’t experienced, but some are clearly “manufactured” as opposed to being experienced through interaction with the TRUTH Himself.

    I don’y really know how to say this, but it seems that reading between the lines you guys have or were involved in what might be referred to as “charismatic ” environments and influences. I have tried to understand emotions that derive from inside the experienced dynamic inside the knowing of God and how to discern the reliability of my emotions to the extent that they might influence my apprehension of reality (when thinking about my emotional experiences I often ask God what He thinks and listen to what the Spirit says about why I might be emotionally experiencing what I am and clarifying the truth given the effect that emotions are having and the role they are playing as pertains to my reaction to them).

    As relates to “charismatic stuff” (either activities or charismatic personalities controlling others) it is my opinion that so much of what is claimed is nonsense and seemingly relatively easy to discern as manipulation. (One commonly used phrase is helpful as pertains to how this manipulation is uncovered is by “following the money”). But perhaps worse is seeing control and manipulation exercised through “creating emotions” to evoke an apparent desired response (amongst many examples would be the many attempts at creating emotionally driven so called worship experiences).

    It isn’t that difficult to analyze and see how charismatic influence can and is exercised, but my question is always how do so many people fall for this stuff. It is not dissimilar to my questions about how seemingly normal and rational people get into cults (I never find it difficult to understand that charlatans will aways find ways of abusing persuasive methods to achieve their desired goals – money, power, control, etc. – but how do so many get deceived?! I suspect the answer is partially found in realizing it is because on some level the people are getting what they really want (as in makes them feel good as any other drug could in making them feel better)?

    I would appreciate you two having a discussion about “charismatica” (probably no such word but I suspect you know what I mean), having been or still in aspects of it. I think a lot of the appeal is controlling individuals ultimately giving people tools by which they can ostensibly control “experiencing God” and what they think they can get him to do as opposed to trusting God in the midst of circumstances as they are. Packaging “truths” in ways that don’t contextualize them in side “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

    I don’t question Brad’s account of his emotional experience of God (I have times when I hear and see God more clearly and that usually has an emotional effect, but God forbid that I try to duplicate them or turn them into a formula by which others can experience them).

  3. Gosh! How I enjoy your interactions. Superb conversation.

    Many years ago, I was lead to Ephesians 3.16-19. Keeping in mind both 1 John 4:8,16 and very pertinently Jn 3:16-19, it intrigued me that there was mystery that I needed to explore so I asked God to teach me about the breadth, length, width and height of his love that goes beyond my understanding. How excited I felt about going beyond the frontier of understanding. We have been on this journey now for several years and it is full of the most beautifully deep emotion. Real love makes you weep. Tears are love’s salve to the heart. Love is in the laughter that rushes through your body into bellows of sound from your mouth. Love is a bodily experience that surpasses the intellect to the extent that the intellect stands back and marvels at the vital emotions that respond to the very real experience of love. Love goes beyond understanding. Love is not a reason. Love remains, inexplicably, an emotion.

    • And yet more than an emotion to my thinking. It touches to the core of our being, beyond intellect and beyond emotions. By the way, will I see you this week in SA somewhere?

  4. Wrote an article years ago on this….and it was published….
    Again more affirmation…this a touchy subject for all the robots out there

  5. Thank you, Brad, for your candid words. I hear you completely. The people around me have no idea how much I have held back, both because I’m sure they’ll think I’m nuts, and partly because I don’t want to offend anyone.

    All I know is that I’ve had an encounter with God that has turned my reality upside-down. An encounter that continues to this day. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t expect it, and I didn’t recognize it at first. Though I did ask God to make himself real to me, many years ago. One day, I was just overtaken, and I still don’t believe I had anything to do with it. To me, it’s a whole new reality, and the best way to describe it is unfamiliar, yet extremely personal.

    I have been engaged by a person in the depths of my being. There is evidence of grace deep inside me. I am moved by things I was never aware of. My perspectives are different. I see God at work in people at a level so deep that most of us don’t even know it exists. Transformation is his thing. He doesn’t seem to be all that concerned about appearances. You can’t see transformation unless you are experiencing it yourself.

    I have no control over what is going on. So far, I have had precious little input into the relationship. But I know that an unfamiliar love is being lavished on me, and my heart knows I can trust the person it is coming from, so I don’t need to control. I can’t help but surrender to that person, and ride the wave. As Paul says it in Galatians 4: now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known BY God… I realize now that KNOWING God is what gives me life. The side benefit is that HE knows ME, and because of that I’m getting to know the REAL me. The real me is moved by unfamiliar stuff.

    All I can do is respond to what I am moved by. I have been most moved by the insights that have emerged from the experience of unfamiliar love. So from the very start I’ve been writing it down. It’s what I do. Your podcasts have given me lots of insights to write about, but usually I’m hit by something when I’m walking down the street or eating breakfast! One thing that puzzles me though. I always expected God would tell me what to do, and be clear about it. In January I was moved to do something, and I did it, but now I’m in limbo. I don’t know what the next step is. Unfamiliar territory. No signs. No control, but only trust?

    Today, our interaction is only about trust. Trust seems to be the only thing that matters to him. Truth be known, I trust him for very little. But I trust him more than I did yesterday. He keeps showing me that he’s at work, in me and in others, and what I COULD trust him for. The dialog from me is usually, “I can’t trust you for that, yet.” He already knows I can’t! My honesty causes him to do what he does, on my behalf. He really does have my back.

    I realize there is an awful lot about this that I don’t know. Most of my journey has been solitary so far, but I can be as present with him as I want to be. I am venturing into uncharted territory, and I have no idea where I am going. Yet I am assured that I know everything I need to know for today. Somehow I can trust that, and I’m safe there. And that’s all that matters…

  6. Craig thanks for writing as well as you did, describing something that is hard to put words to. May it encourage not only me…but many.

  7. I love what God is doing in you, Craig, and you write of it so eloquently. It’s a strange thing to have relationship with a being so unlike us, so wise, so vast, and yet deeply intimate. And you’re right, we don’t control this, he does. We get to go along for the ride. It might help you to grow in trust if you lose the “for.” We don’t really trust God “for” things. We just trust him, to be good and loving, to lead us along in his timing, to provide all that we need, though all of that often defies our sense of logic. He is so much great. Blessings to you, Craig and all others on this journey.

  8. Craig,
    Please email me at jfultgeo@yahoo.com if you would like to share more directly. I have some questions for you as well.

    If I may I would chime in here for a moment to share an insight I had regarding emotions and how that insight has changed my life.

    To begin with I have no recollection of the event that led me to experience my emotion in question, but it was significant. What caught my attention wasn’t the sense of how I felt emotionally but that I felt so uncharacteristically enhanced in such a sudden manner. I discovered, in that moment, that there was so much more to living than I had realized. I took that to mean that keeping my mind open to exploring was critical. But the most valuable realization was in the fact that the onset of what I now know to be emotion was a revelation of God showing me that I must be open to multi-dimensional realizations, not merely discovering things on the plain of existence visible from my mind. Being ever sensitive to input from directions and dimension I was unaware of was so very scary, but if I allowed myself to realize that God created everything that was created there was nothing that I could discover that he did not create so it must be good. By this method of thinking I have been guided to expand beyond religious belief and performance as Wayne and Brad have referred and into the freedom to realize God’s reflection in so many ways. Craig’s story is so similar. So are many others. This blog is a window into the amazing opportunities we are only just beginning to see in discovering the infinity of God’s available-ness, of his offerings to us that religions have hidden, intentionally or unintentionally, of the comfort and freedom to begin to explore the vast unknown of a real relationship, a personal and deeply revealing relationship with the creator of all things and beings. We have yet, no idea what an amazing opportunity awaits.

    Thanks again Craig, and thanks Wayne and Brad for this open door.



  9. Brad.

    I loved the podcast. It has been a long while since I have cried like you shared. If you can, find the old Bryon Duncan song, “Blessed Are the Tears that Fall”. The song is exactly what you described.

  10. I felt moved to add some things about emotions and ‘tearing up’ and compassion. I hope this clarifies…

    Love is the all-encompassing reality that grabs your heart and refuses to let go. It affects my emotions, my mind, my sensibilities, my perception, at an inner depth I didn’t know I had. Moved with compassion occurs in that inner depth. In fact, every interaction I have with God occurs in that inner depth. When I spontaneously tear up, I know that God is touching something, or healing something deep in my inner being, and that my human being is beginning to catch up.

    When your heart gets scarred, you protect it. Especially when you are very young. Especially if you perceive hurt from someone you trust. You resolve that no one will ever hurt you like that again, so you encase your heart in a fortress. As the shell becomes ever more bulletproof, your interactions with people become more shallow. You can’t be intimate, you can’t let yourself care or be vulnerable. Your deepest fear is that you will be exposed. You can’t let yourself be known.

    Thank God that nothing can prevail against his love! His love contained the solvent that penetrated my fortress! I had resisted him for so long, but at the right time? his love got in. And with that, he satisfied the deepest longing of my heart: to be known. For the first time in my existence, I experience a genuine, real relationship with someone. He knows me and he entrusts himself to me, a little at a time. He gently dismantles and untangles my fortress so I can interact differently with those around me. I can be open, because he’s got my heart.

    Being known, and being transformed from the inside out. Good news, indeed!

    • I’m adding this to clarify some things, especially for those of you who are striving to ‘hear God’….

      The completed resurrection of Jesus changed the whole universe, so that we might come to know Father God in a deep personal way, and that by knowing him we might learn to trust him. The question, “What is that to you?” is like Jesus saying, “Peter, when I’m gone, all of this is going to get very personal. Personal between you and Father, the same way it has been between Father and me.”

      I have shared in this thread and others about an encounter with God that I have been having. I don’t remember saying this, but if not, I should have: When something like this happens to you, you want it for everybody.

      First, the encounter is not an event, like a bolt of lightning from heaven. It was an overwhelming sense of a presence that cared deeply for me, a sense that continued through days and weeks. Second, the encounter is really nothing special, and in no way is it about me. It’s become more of an ongoing dialog through which many deeply personal issues are being processed, giving me healing and relief and comfort and hope.

      The greatest realization that came out of this encounter took weeks to unfold and understand, so this is what I want you to take away from it. The encounter gave me an awareness that Father God HAS BEEN WITH ME throughout my life; with me and speaking to me, and very present. Sometime before my earliest memory, I lost the AWARENESS of his presence, so I experienced my life believing that I was on my own. Now I know that I was never alone.

      Now I believe that Father God wants to restore to each of us the awareness of his very real presence. He wants to make himself REAL to each of us today. He has never left us, even if we thought so. I believe this is the true legacy of Jesus’ resurrection.

      So this encounter has simply restored my awareness of his presence, especially for today, but also for my past. I think the awareness that he was there in the past has something to do with being able to trust into the future.

      Blessings, Craig

  11. As I am/was grieving the loss of my husband, this song by Michael Card was one of the greatest comfort:

    Come Lift Your Sorrow

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