When Bad Emotions Happen to Good Christians
- 2010 Jun 17
There's a broad swatch 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."] That means I have Christ in me. That means I'm happy. That means that if I feel anger, frustration, or sadness, something has gone terribly wrong with my relationship with Christ."
But the truth is that there is no such thing as a bad emotion. None. Zero. It doesn't exist. Too many people fail to understand that virtually all emotions are good, insofar as every emotion you ever have is telling you something it would tremendously beneficial for you to hear. That's what emotions are for. That's what they're supposed to do. That's why they're there. No "bad" emotion exists out of context; it only arises to show you something -- to inform you, to teach you, to point you to a place where you need to go to learn something about yourself.
A "bad" emotion is like an air-raid siren. It's harsh shrillness is painful to experience -- but it's telling you that you need to do something in order to remain healthy.
The only thing that can render an 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 your "bad" emotion was trying to alert you about, but, in a larger sense, you've fostered a lie about yourself. You've traded the truth of who you are, for a lie about who you think you should be. And down that way darkness lies.
So the next time you have a negative emotion, don't fight it. Don't think it means you've stepped outside of God's light. Think of it as a way by which you can move closer to God. Because that's exactly what it is.
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. A bad emotion means there's a very real problem -- and it always contains within it the solution to that problem. But you don't get that knowledge for free. You have to work for it. And the working part is where, instead of dismissing or trying to scoot around a "bad" emotion, you delve into it.
Our emotions aren't fleeting things of no substance. They're a primary means by which God communicates to us in terms exactly tailored to us.
To dismiss a "bad" emotion because it didn't come from God is to dismiss God himself.