I was pondering this as I pulled into my place tonight. I am really a stoic person in many ways. I find that my emotions are unruly and often seem to control me, but yet, I also find that I can hide them well and I am not very expressive of my emotions. I’m not a psychologist. Maybe the two go together. I can’t say.
I am a low-key individual with my emotions, except perhaps for when close friends are around. At a time in my life when I was in love with a lady for instance, no one around me knew about it. When I lost that love, hardly anyone knew about that as well. Oh with sadness, they can sometimes tell something’s wrong, but I’m not the type to really talk about it.
What is my point in this? My point is that if I’m low-key, I’m probably not alone and I think this has some relevance to the Christian life. I think there are some Christians that are very expressive in their emotions. God bless them. Some of these are what we call I-type personalities that can stop everyone on the street and say “Do you know Jesus?”
My only concern is that too often, I think this has been taken to be the way Christianity is meant to be for everyone. My position is that it isn’t. It’s also my position that my personality style is not the way for everyone as well. We are trying to draw people to a savior and not a personality type after all.
My concern is that our love for Jesus will often be based on our feelings. Friends. If our level is based on our feelings, I would have to conclude that I don’t have much love. However, I thought about asking my friends “Do you think I love Jesus?” and I really think most of them would say “Of course!”
I can often approach my faith quite numb. In fact, if anything, with my negative outlook, my feelings are usually negative until I reach the point where I just burst on a good friend who’s ready to hear it all, and might I say quite literally that I thank God that I have friends like that and I think we all need them.
There are times that I come to my computer here even and I am angry with God for some reason. I may be depressed over circumstances in my life and wondering where he is and why he’s letting them happen. What do I do? I serve. What more can I do? I have to learn to not give in to my feelings.
This is something hard for all of us, and I think especially many of us analytical types. When I get a feeling, I tend to have to analyze it to the core. This means one day, I can be on top of the world and unstoppable and everything’s going great, but then the next day “Woe is me. The world is all wrong.” What’s changed? One thing only. My perspective.
Our feelings serve to tell us about our emotional states. I don’t think they serve to tell us about the external world. Too often we do a sort of transference where we take our feelings and assume everyone else feels the same way about us. It’s easy to fall into this trap.
The stoics at this point would say to step back and look at reality. That’s not easy for a lot of us, but I think if we don’t do so, we will be caught by unruly emotions. We are to control our emotions and not vice-versa. Emotions must be subject to reason. We are not creatures of instinct after all.
Why do I write this tonight? So you can understand me? That’s got to be some of it. Also though, I suspect many of you are like this and wondering “Do I really love Jesus?” I’d say you do. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have to ask such a question. Dear friend. Please take comfort and realize that while you don’t understand it, God made you that personality type for a reason. Trust him.