Quick, name two positive emotions and two negative emotions. Got them? Feel free to write them down, or just remember them. Guess what? It was a trick question. Emotions aren’t positive or negative, they’re just emotions. In a society such as our that tends to moralize our emotions, the concept I just proposed is a strange one. But it’s true.
Now, we might like some emotions more than others. We prefer happiness to despair, exhilaration to fear, triumph to embarrassment. But emotions in themselves have no moral value in any direction. They’re not good or bad. They’re not positive or negative. They’re just emotions.
God is a lover, and He’s constantly writing us unsigned love notes. To the soul that knows love, it sees signs of His presence everywhere, though others don’t recognize it.
Some of the women that Larry Nasser abused forgave him, but that doesn’t mean he should get out of prison. Same for JPII’s would-be assassin. Forgiveness is not pardon. Nor is it condoning, forgetting, reconciliation, and it’s definitely not easy.
We tend to assume our emotions are permanent, that we will always feel the way we’re currently feeling. And, we can amplify them into the future, as told humorously in Thanks for the Feedback: you might be embarrassed because you had something stuck in your teeth the whole date, but you amplify it into “I will die alone.”
What if instead of viewing God’s will as an authoritarian thing, you viewed it as His desire for your life?
If you were God, would you have done things the way He did? If you’re the divine-made-human (i.e. Jesus) on a mission to become human, die for our sins, and save the world, would you have done it the way He did? If you’re anything like most people, probably not. He spent HOW long just living at home? (30 years, or ~90% of his life) But, He’s God so clearly knows what He’s doing. Let’s unpack it.
Everyone has some sort of burden to carry, and along with it (often) comes lies about how you’re weak, or “look at everyone else, they seem fine.” (and we all know well comparison like THAT goes). And last week in prayer, God very directly confronted some of those lies I was believing about myself. It was awesome.
Half of Americans spend more than they earn, but only 10% say they’re living beyond their means (source). That should scare us. But “living within your means” isn’t just for money, it’s for time as well.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like when someone lobs an advice grenade at me and walks away, expecting me to do what they told me. Maybe they have no idea what they’re talking about, but at the very least, they’re unwilling to enter my discomfort. They refuse to accompany me. Instead, each of us should not only point out the way to people, but actually walk with them on it.
I’m sitting in prayer, stuck. What am I supposed to do now? I wonder. I still have ten more minutes. I know that discipline in prayer is important, that it’s good to pray even when I don’t feel like it. But right now, I feel like I should be doing something different.
Underneath that mindset lurks the view that there’s a “perfect formula” out there, a method for prayer that will never leave me dry. Of course, dryness in prayer is a good thing, but it doesn’t feel like it.