Less Miserables Please

anne-hathaway-sings-i-dreamed-a-dream-1-10324-1356116085-6_bigWhen it comes to emotions, I’m Opting Out.

No Anne Hathaway shaving her head. No monkeys in test-tubes.  No cartoon animals losing their parents.

No ‘heart-wrenching but ultimately life-affirming’ stories.

Expendable wingman with young wife and blonde daughter. Deputy sheriff taking ‘one last job’. Young mother taking on the establishment.

I know your game. Two hours waiting for you to die/loseyourdog/missthetrain/contracttheillness/gethitbytheasteroid.

Russell Crowe emoting in my face. My eyes, Russell,  my eyes.

I don’t blame Hollywood. My problem is with emotions themselves. Feelings: what are they good for? Absolutely nothing. Dribbling at the dinner party. Lighting bonfires in the garden. Tapping at the windows when we’re trying to get to sleep. Wailing and whining and needy and noisy. Embarrassing and unnecessary.

Let’s be rid of them.  Imagine it now. A world without Meg Ryan and black eyeliner. No sadness, no anger, no fear, no heartbreak. Nothing.

Sure, it’s not completely ideal. We’d miss out on love, joy, hope, laughter and er – life. But wouldn’t that be easier? Wouldn’t it be safe?

Compare this to the bible’s picture of our emotions. In Scripture our hearts can be failed, faint, glad, hard, willing, stirred, sorrowful, obstinate, lifted up, circumcised, wicked, grieved, hot, astonished, trembling, melted, inclined, merry, rejoicing, naughty, offended, dead, desirous, despising, lion-like, bowed, upright, understanding, large, turned away, turned back, sore troubled, tender, double, perfect, tried, prepared, free, united, proud, soft, walking, deceived, enticed, hypocritical, trembling, firm, proved, wax-like, pure, enlarged, strengthened, disquieted, panting, meditating, clean, contrite, sore pained, fixed, overwhelmed, poured out, set, froward, smitten, brought down, wounded, inclined, fat, sound, desolate, subtil, perverse, heavy, sick, haughty, fretting, despairing, hasty, ravished, awake, moved, stout, fearful, revived, evil, washed, rebellious, uncircumcised, deceitful, turned, affected, whorish, stony, idolatrous, weak, new, bitter, of flesh, divided, exalted, rent, lowly, waxed gross, far from God, good, slow, burning, troubled, pricked, single, not right, opened, impenitent, anguished, veiled, blind, true, established, (Glen counted more than a hundred).

Like it or not, we are heart-y people.  We were made to feel.  Real life is not about sealing off your heart or squelching your emotions. Like rubber ducks in the bath – no matter how long you push ’em under, they always pop back up.

Paul doesn’t use the duck analogy. But he’s on the same page. Whether we deny our feelings (‘lose all sensitivity’) or indulge them, (‘giving ourselves over to sensuality’ -Ephesians 4:18-19), we can’t escape them.

According to the bible, real life begins when we ask the Spirit of Jesus to “take away our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.  It continues as we give this heart of flesh away.  To paraphrase Lewis, a safe heart is a dead one. If we want to live, we’d better love.


10 thoughts on “Less Miserables Please

  1. Wow Emma! I can’t believe you hyperlinked all of those! :) I just wanted to say thank you again for your honesty. You’re one of the bravest people I know – thank you for your courage in reflecting Jesus! Jesus was a man of strong feelings and that really encourages me – he can sympathise and he weeps for us/rejoices with us. ‘He had no tears for his own griefs, but sweat drops of blood for mine!’

  2. Definitely, a world without feelings sounds really tempting :) “can’t live with them, cant live without them”

  3. Today, a world without feelings sounds very tempting…
    I guess feelings make life more interesting, light and dark…although I wish we were taught how to live with them though. Take anger for example…I was taught that girls don’t get angry, so you try to behave and push it down…until you end up depressed. There must be a healthy way to live with feelings.

  4. I LOVE your words Emma. So well written. Man! You are talented!
    I’ve got to say that, like littlemisshugs, I sometimes feel a world without feelings is just a tiny weeny bit tempting… and often, getting to the end of the day and taking my meds is just lovely, because they (very temporarily) produce just that, but overall, without feelings, we’d be automatons, and then without free will, and oh my goodness! What are the implications of THAT!
    Thank you for your post. Sorry I haven’t been about since I saw you but it was so so lovely to meet such an inspirational person! Sending you many hugs. Wish we’d got to talk more!


  5. Read an interesting book recently about how passive Christian culture in America is, and it made the point that sometimes our courage and willingness to act saves us from what both our ideas and our feelings are. Thought that was something to think about.

  6. Thanks for your lovely comments and encouragements

    As you say Cat, Jesus was a man of strong feelings, so emotionlessness can’t be right.

    Johanna – sounds like a very interesting book: would you recommend it?

  7. I would recommend it, with some reservations. I originally bought it for my husband but found his basic premise really fascinating. It’s kind of a populist version of a Bonhoeffer-type message. Don’t just help the weak but resist their oppressors, which IMO is not a distraction from the Gospel but an important part of it. As he developed his theme though I (not surprisingly) found more room for disagreement!

  8. Oh! So it IS okay to feel!!! I was Almost convinced it was not, the process seeming so arbitrary and, I guess, painful at times! Great to discover, Thank you, Emma, that we are, in fact, designed that way, and that it is ok to be all that I am :-D Glad you like the book, btw, Emma. I have a letter and an email to get to you… so it’s ok- I’m not really going quiet on you. Lots of love anon xxx

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