I’m a little bit of a catch-phrase aficionado. As in, I like to have my signature phrase inserted into every interaction I possibly can. I went through a phase when anything surprising, amazing, or horrifying was met with the phrase, “Snap, Baby-O!” (I know. I was so cool.) I had a time when “Back that truck up!” was a frequent exclamation, and I still devolve into “Shut the front door!” when I’m truly shocked or amazed. Recently, I’ve been fighting the phrase, “Feeling all the feels.” Every day presents me with a million-and-one instances in which I want to burst into tears, laugh, and swell with pride. All at the same time. I think it’s called motherhood.
But for the first time in my life, I’m fighting a catch phrase. I love the phrase “all the feels.” But I don’t think that we women need more help in creating emotional ambiguity. We are very good at it. You know what I’m talking about... your husband/boss/mother asks you, “What’s wrong?” and you respond, “I don’t know...” Because often time we don’t. Because we have “all the feels.” Not literally, but we lump together our favorites (e.g. worry, anger, and despair) into a pretty package and just end up feeling miserable without having separate, clear definitions for these emotions we are wrestling with. Take any concoction of emotions: some woman out there has probably combined them. And it doesn’t take any work or effort on our part to come up with a unique package of tangled emotions, both positive and negative, and to then interpret the entirety of our world through our new set of “all the feels.”
I love emotions. Love them. I’ve enjoyed dabbling in a wide variety, and based on the energy and rapidity with which I flip from one to another, I could even call myself a connoisseur.
God likes emotions, too. I know this because he exhibits a great number of them in his Word. He’s angry. He’s sad. He rejoices. He weeps.
And I am made to be like God.
So, I am made to exhibit emotions. I am supposed to emote. I am supposed to feel angry, joyful, and sad. I know this because I am supposed to be like God, and God does these things.
But I can’t stop there.
If I’m mad because my child spilled a glass of milk. If I’m sad because no one thinks I’m amazing. If I’m happy because I saw someone else fail, I cannot point to those emotions and say, “Look! I’m being just like God!”
God has the emotions he has because he values what he values. Emotions do not occur in a vacuum. Every emotion is tied to a value system. It may be a true value (all of God’s are!), or it may be a false, sinful idol of a value that is corrupting my emotions.
In Exodus 20, God gives us his commandments. But before he does this, He tells us why we have these commands. We are to follow these commandments because we will be his treasured, close, personal possession. “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples.” (Ex. 19:5) He gave us that list of commands so that we could be close to him. We can have righteously informed emotions by valuing what God values.
This doesn’t just happen.
It’s like cleaning my house.
I wish it happened that way...
I wish I had amazing emotions and a spotless house, just by closing my eyes and wishing.
But the truth of the matter is, I must fill my mind, my day, my thoughts with truth. Constantly. And I must plead with the Holy Spirit to show me my false values. And I must evaluate my emotions through the grid of “Would God be ________?” Would God be angry at my clumsy child who accidentally made us late? Would God find happiness in a coarse joke or a gossip-filled comment? Would God be sad about my lack of fashionable shoes?
Because when I’m filling my mind with truth, when I’m praying truth, when I’m asking for truth... my emotions will fall in line. Don’t be nebulous in labeling your emotions. Don’t let them slide by without examination. They’re a big deal.
Because God has beautiful, clear emotions.
And I want to be just like Him.