Snow White: Regina, I’ve seen what life has thrown at you, and you still fight against the darkness every single day. Sooner or later, your heart will find it’s way to happiness.
Evil Queen: [sighs] that doesn’t feel possible.
Snow White: But it is. I know you, and you feel things deeply, with or without it, you feel things with your whole soul. Don’t let anything hold you back.
On most Sunday mornings, I can make it through an entire church without the slightest display of actual emotion. Last Sunday a bit of emotion betrayed my usually calm demeanor. It was just as the third hymn was beginning. It’s style sounded familiar, so I quickly looked for the year and the writer of the song. Then it happened; I let out a sharp: “Gaither! Ha!”. I was just lucky that by then the chorus had begun and what I had said had been drowned out entirely. I admit, I’m not a fan of Gaither music, but it’s still exceedingly popular down here especially among the elderly men and women in my church. Perhaps I was feeling a little frustrated about having to put up with Gaither hymns. Perhaps I was feeling a little resentful about having to sing other people’s music and pretend that it works for me when it doesn’t. Perhaps the elders were feeling happy to listen to a beloved favorite. Perhaps they were feeling glad about a memory of the last time they sang that particular song. They clearly benefited from the music on an emotional level, even if it was in the smallest way.
Emotion – what we feel – isn’t always a disconnected abstract state apart from our physical one. Think about it – what does emotion feel like? Isn’t love often described like ‘butterflies in our stomachs”? Have you ever been so afraid that you couldn’t move or couldn’t breathe? Have your emotions ever felt like a lump in your throat? For the most part, Christians often try to rise above the sensation of emotion and sail toward the calm seas of reason and logic. Christians often beware a strong show of emotions particularly when they are uncalled for.
But that also makes us extremely uncomfortable around emotional people. We tend to view them as weak, but the reality is the opposite. Scripture doesn’t call for us to bottle up our emotions, but to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We don’t really have that great of a frame of reference either, for we can’t know how happy we are when we are hat our happiest until we know how sad we are when we are at our saddest and we cannot know what either are when we avoid them both as much as humanly possible. Only when we integrate our emotional selves with our spiritual selves will we be all the stronger for it.