Friday, June 16, 2017

Good Feelings, Bad Feelings, and What God Feels

I recently heard someone say: "Jesus wasn't angry at the adulteress; He just forgave her."

There was a day I would have possibly interpreted that story in the same way.  But I've been viewing things in an entirely different light.  My reaction to this statement now is, "How do you know that?"

All too often we unknowingly project assumptions on God.  I know I have previously felt that anger is a bad emotion.  We don't have a lot of details from the scriptures on exactly what He was thinking in that moment, so people may assume He had no anger whatsoever.

What if He DID have anger?  He still chose compassion, and that's still a good lesson to learn.

Our favorite family therapist made the comment, "Well, He was half God.  We're completely mortal, so it's hard for us to entirely understand how He did the things He did."

That was a great point.

My cousin had the thought - "We don't know how long He was writing in the sand, or WHAT He was writing.  We also don't know everything He said to her.  Maybe He said some things to her that were just for her."

Another great point.

I've heard other theological views, one in particular said that Jesus' question meant not if you have no sin, but that if you were not guilty of THIS same particular sin, you could cast the first stone. And they all dropped it.

That's a really deep angle with heavier implications.

I've wondered before - perhaps this woman was a victim of mysogyny, and with the backwards things of the world, perhaps she was being raped, and then shamed for it (because how else would a group of men really be able to "catch her in the act"), so in that case how unfair that the perpetrator(s) were not also going to be stoned. And no wonder all the stones would be dropped.

But Jesus said, "Go thy way and sin no more," which is not something you'd say to a rape victim, so then it makes me believe there wasn't this hidden angle to the story...but...what if?  Would there have been some angry/heartbroken/disappointed feelings involved in the situation no matter who the feelings were directed at?  I imagine so.


(Photo credit: Google Search/reiki30.blogspot)

A few weeks back I was riding home from the Grand Canyon with some 4th graders.  We watched Enchanted, and Giselle demonstrated exactly what I've been thinking.  She didn't know what anger was - she always sugar coated it. She ran from it.  Surely such an emotion is something that SHOULDN'T be felt, but Robert had experienced divorce and hard-knocks, so his life perspective didn't include sugar coating.  It included harsh reality of dreams broken and love lost while Giselle still had pure belief in "unicorns" and the easy kind of happily-ever-afters. He made me laugh because he says to her in this scene something like, "I'm ANGRY.  It's an unpleasant emotion.  Have you ever heard of it?"

I think Giselle's type of mentality is the reason people like her interpret situations in the way they do.  They're running.  For the ones who are RUNNING TO the ideal of what they want to become, they think that in order to rise above what they're feeling they have to NOT feel it.

But the opposite is true.

You have to recognize and experience what you're going through in order to know - and "knowing" is more than having a book-smart knowledge.  You have to learn how to feel, but too often what we feel and experience here on earth is pretty crummy and so there's no way it logically seems to be the answer to get to the happily-ever-after goal we're reaching.  So that's why people RUN FROM what they're feeling.  They deny it.  They say they're okay when they're not. They say they're not really mad. They want to be Christ-like, so then they think that in order to be like Him, they can't experience what they're experiencing.

So what does God feel?

He feels everything.  And I think He still feels it.  So to clarify, I want to believe that He didn't just feel everything we have felt at one previous time...such as just in the Garden, or just on the Cross. 

He still feels it WITH US.  

I believe that in order to be able to live with Him and abide in His presence that instead of learning how to NOT FEEL, we will need to eventually be able to understand and be able to cope with feeling everything.

I believe that God feels all the feelings from all the angles.  In regards to anger, yes He feels it.  In Isaiah He says, "For all this, my anger is not turned away, but my hand is stretched out still."

When it comes to my situation with my adopted children, I believe that at the very same time that Jesus understands and feels the injustices of what brought my children here, that He understands the why of what happened better than I do.  He understands the addictions; He understands the sequences of abuse and events that caused their birth parents to end up where they did.  At the very same moment that I am mad at the mess that was created, and the wrong and terrible things that happened to my children as infants and toddlers, I am also grateful that they are with me now because of their broken paths.  It's hard - you'd think the gratitude would erase everything, but it doesn't quite.  It doesn't erase everything yet because I'm feeling everything at the same time and I'm feeling what my kids are feeling WHEN they feel it, too:  anger, gratitude, betrayal, grief, excitement, change, anxiety, joy, depression, hope, forgiving, frustrations, awakening, exhaustion. It's a total overload, because so many conflicting things are ALL TRUE.  

It's TRUE that their crappy beginning to this life caused trauma over and over, and it's also TRUE that their broken paths led them to a stable and happier path, but the 2nd hasn't magically erased the first - what happened to them was still wrong and crappy, but was it caused by choices or destiny, or a combination of both?  Destiny or not, we're in this vortex of feelings trying to make sense of it all. Ironically enough, in all these emotions I have previously felt alone, but I don't feel alone anymore and I interpret companionship of others placed in my life and of unusual coincidences of healing to explain and give proof to my belief that GOD HIMSELF FEELS IT ALL WITH US.  I believe HE FEELS MORE, because HE HOLDS ALL THINGS IN HIS HANDS, and HE IS WITH ALL OF US in our rotten choices, in our good choices, in our heart-breaks, in our triumphs -- He feels it all.

But He's not the one running.

I'm learning that when you have way too many feelings to run from, the only thing you can do is recognize what you experience and accept your feelings to learn from them.

I tell myself I can't be mad anymore at all these adults before me who had their chance to pick up the pieces of my daughter's lives, because if it weren't for all of their choices (even if I disagreed with them) then I wouldn't be here coming to know God, and I wouldn't have my beautiful children.  

But you know what? Sometimes I still get mad.

Some days I am at peace and content with what's happened.

Other days I'm broken-hearted for my kids because they're still suffering from the choices of others.  

I also grieve the time I didn't have with them.  I grieve just like they do that they weren't babies in my tummy.  They tell me at random times, "I wanted to be a baby in your tummy." It makes me feel bad - maybe I wasn't good enough to be able to be their birth mom because my body wasn't strong enough.  Maybe mentally I couldn't have handled having all those kids so close together if Miles & Embry were born as twins, and then if I had Ella a year later, maybe I would never have had Ace.  But that's just a speculation. I don't actually know WHY it had to be this way.  

Maybe it's just this way because my husband and I chose to be there for them when they needed it.  Or maybe it was pre-determined destiny?  I'm not 100% sure.  I couldn't control anything that happened to them, and maybe physically & mentally I wasn't strong enough to be able to be there for them then, but I know that my HEART is strong enough (SOMEHOW) to be there for them NOW, and that even though I am positive that I cannot do this on my own, I know that GOD knows how to do this, and I have to let Him carry me daily.

But even though my husband and I can be there for them now, it doesn't change the fact that I wish that I could have erased all their heart-ache and all of their let-downs. 

So we move forward, learning how to feel all these feelings.  Learning how to heal by accepting all of it: The good and the bad.  The right and the wrong.  Somewhere in the minutia of it all we end up finding what is.  That's when we become stronger - when we face "what is" and choose not to run.

So that's why I believe God knows how to BE and exist with ALL the feelings in the world.  I don't believe that God is above feelings.  We need to realize that we're not less for feeling, whatever the feeling is.  It's all part of what it means to be alive.  You're not a bad person if you're angry about something. What you DO with your anger is another topic, but too often we blame ourselves for simply feeling.  We shame ourselves, and hurt ourselves by telling negative messages to our minds that we shouldn't feel the way we feel. 

But it's time to quit running.