Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Work of Feeling

Last week, I was emailing back and forth with a friend. She was expressing an area in her life causing frustration while simultaneously trying to talk herself, or perhaps more accurately, bible verse herself, out of her hurt feelings.

As I read her circumstance and also her determination to not be affected by it, I was reminded of myself. How I often convinced myself to not feel the full extent of a situation, but instead rely on my knowledge of spiritual jargon to keep the inner peace -- mistakenly and pridefully believing my knowledge alone should preserve me from injury. I would even rationalize that if I admitted feeling hurt, jealousy, despair, etc., then I probably didn't believe my neat little answers.
Leaving me unraveled. Exposed even.

No thank you.

And as I implemented this defunct, circular line of reasoning, I unknowingly built a prideful fortress of biblical mantras and self sufficiency, and audaciously claimed it as God's protection of my confused heart.
Yet in reality, it was just my own flawed defense that kept me looking like a nice enough girl but in essence, I was a thief bent on robbing
myself of real, compelling life. A slow, festering wound I was; unwilling to get past myself to heal.

Laboring towards wholeness has always been the story of redemption. While limping around as a fractured facade of sufficiency is the same old worn out saga of deception. A repressed and continuous beating of sorts.

Thankfully though, somewhere along the line, I decided to stop beating myself. After some years of subconsciously hating my own guts, combined with numerous failed self pep talks, spiraling circumstances, wise professional counsel, and friends and family that have wisdom well beyond mine, I learned to extend grace to even a wretch like me. And since grace tends to evoke feeling, I learned to feel fully, even, if it felt quite horrible.

I decided identifying with Christ mandates feeling.
Even the scary, uncontrollable ones I try desperately to avoid. Which, incidentally, are the ones that often make me most relatable, most honest, most real -- most like him.
For he felt deeply. Far beyond my own limitations in fact, and experienced the heights of ecstatic joy mingled with the excruciating depths of anguish.

And I can't escape his call to be like him.

My email response to my friend that follows was a needed exercise for myself in articulating truth that after years of defensiveness God graciously settled on my own heart and mind:

" is OK to feel though...remember that. You can feel disappointed or mad...God knows...I just always have to remind myself it's what I do with the feelings that when I get frustrated or fearful or insecure or I let those feelings identify me or do I let Christ identify me? Unfortunately, it is sometimes the former...but in God's steadiness and grace...I am growing more and more to where I know my home is the's Christ...not insecurity...nor fear...or jealously...or even my sick, sneaky's just and thankfully him. Praying that for you now too.

...that we might be "rooted and established in love...and have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:18-19

Wow. The fullness of God...what a pretty dress that would be. Praying we wear him well."

Progressive sanctification. Or unraveling, if you will. A painfully, beautiful gift encased in the vitality of feeling.

Let's keep doing the work of feeling with Christ as our identity.

All the fullness of God awaits

And I want that more than anything.

For me and for you.

I mean, what if?