The other day I posted about coffee-dipped doughnuts and other things that we carry forward with as “norms” from our childhood, with the ultimate goal of being transformed from brokenness to wholeness. I wrote about having “a sense of hope that some of my deeply-embedded gutteral reactions are not permanent chains that I will be stuck with forever.”
Becky, a psychologist/therapist, responded back in the comments giving a bit of good push back to some of the things I said. She writes (in part):
Mostly I think that people in the church have a tendency to think that certain feelings (love, happiness, etc.) are acceptable feelings, while they seem to look at anger and sometimes even sadness as a sin. I believe this to be incredibly problematic. How can we function as a living, caring community if we condemn others, or condemn ourselves for having and expressing feelings that are modeled by our leaders (Jesus, David, etc.) in Scripture?
So I might do a bit of backpedaling on what I said last week. I recognize and agree that denouncing certain emotions as “bad” or “evil” or “problematic” is not a healthy way to move forward. Balance is important and suppression is certainly not the goal (things that are said to be “bad” are probably more likely to be suppressed, and things that are suppressed will find their way to the surface).
I don’t completely take back what I said last week, because I still hold out hope that, over time, we can find ourselves with a healthier core of emotions. Whether through encouraging and challenging relationships, therapy if/as needed, prayer, and the work of God’s spirit, I do think that we should strive to have healthier (more Christ-like) “base-reactions” to events that happen around us. I think that this is one of the big picture points of spiritual transformation.
What I was saying last week was that there are certain ways of being and responding and reacting that I inherited or learned as a kid (mainly from watching Disney movies) that previously I thought I was stuck with but have now come to believe that change and transformation is possible. The goal is not to “rid myself” of these “negative” or “bad” emotions, but find a healthier and more whole sense of being and responding that is a better reflection of who I was created to be.
Not sure if that made more sense…but, thanks Becky, for the push back and further thoughts (and push back more if I’m still missing it from a psychological perspective)!