The eldest sister of my dearest friend agreed to lead our home group this past Sunday. She spoke of grace and gentleness with grace and gentleness and reminded us of all that God has done for his children. She asked us to think of the gifts we have that could be used to serve the body. She said hers was her susceptibility to beauty. And that night I cried because I don’t think I have that gift.
She loves yoga and grapefruit and laughs without covering her mouth. She feels deeply and hugs purposefully and has big, brown, curly hair that goes perfectly with the wild softness about her.
I think I want to be her when I grow up. But I don’t actually want to ever grow up. So I want to be just a younger version of her now.
But I don’t see beauty that way.
And I don’t like grapefruits.
My junior year of college was the hardest year of my life. I was lonely and hurting and lost and sad. But all under the blinding guise of apathy. And it wasn’t until the Lord (in His great faithfulness) and my therapist (in her remarkable patience – shout out, Brandy) brought me out of that phase that I was able to see that apathy for what it was. My feeble (albeit somewhat effective) attempt to turn down the volume of all the noise of the world because all I could hear was unpleasant. It was the lens by which I tried to shield my eyes from seeing because I couldn’t see anything but the grayish hues of ugliness. I diluted my senses because I didn’t like what I was sensing. I cheated myself out of being human.
Yet it is a gift to be human. To be the creature created in the image of God. And when I think of all that is wonderful about living, about being human, about being a person with a soul and with sweat glands and feelings and toes, it seems so tragic to give that up.
Because the world is unpleasant. There are grayish hues of ugliness. There is sickness and fear and abuse and pain.
But there are also buttery popcorn fingers.
I’m not one for feelings really. I think everything is cheesy and I suck at talking about emotions and my biggest fear in life is a tossup between burning alive and crying in front of people.
I, like most of the world, have somehow perverted the word “emotional” to be the way we describe someone driven solely (and irresponsibly) by emotions. It carries this connotation of weakness. It is quickly and dangerously becoming synonymous with being needy. But now, a few years removed from that year of deafening apathy, I’m not so sure that emotions deserve such judgment.
Scripture shows no such hesitation. In fact, we see a real depth of emotion, perhaps in its purest human form, in the life of Jesus. He felt deeply. More deeply than we could ever image. He wept over Israel. He rejoiced in His father. He agonized such that his sweat became like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). He was fully God and fully human and fully emotional.
I fear that I’ve often missed the beauty of Ecclesiastes 3 because it’s hard to read without The Byrds popping into my mind. But when I stop to really look at the words – the God-breathed, God-inspired words – I am so overwhelmed by the beauty of being human.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace.
We were created to feel.
To weep, openly, fervently, until you’re close to throwing up because sometimes that’s the response to brokenness and pain and a longing for the new heaven and new earth.
To laugh, powerfully, from the bottom of your toes until you feel the emptiness of your lungs and have to gasp for air because friendship and fun and silliness are gifts that we are given from a Father that delights in our delight.
To love, with abandon, with a laying down of self, without reserve or regret, because we are designed for community and wholeness and because He first loved us.
And to lick salt off of buttery popcorn fingers.
I fear emotions because I fear a lack of control. I want to guard and protect and conceal. If I feel nothing then nothing can hurt. (Did Dashboard write a song about that?)
But why? Because I still think I know more than God. Because I don’t trust him to deal gently with me. Because I don’t believe that He is good. Not really – not enough to loosen this white-knuckled grip I have on the shambles of my life that I pretend to have control over.
But God. Is. Good.
And in his goodness he has made us human. In his likeness. And with the capacity to feel and feel deeply. To be inspired and fascinated and comforted and engrossed. To feel curious or daring or surprised or earnest. To be tender and devoted. To be determined and overjoyed. Thrilled. Spirited. Tenacious. Passionate. Admiring. Eager. And on and on and on.
These are gifts. Sweet gifts that add color and sound and taste to the brokenness of that which is temporary.
Father, let us be susceptible to beauty in this way. Let us turn up the volume of these emotions and be thankful for our sensitivities to them.
We get to see beauty and respond to it. With our hearts and minds and lungs and tears. We get to feel pain and loss and sadness and remember that only God sustains. We get to cry. To let fat, wet, rolling tears embody deep, gut wrenching feelings. And to rest in those moments of overwhelming joy that the grave is empty and we have been redeemed.
What a gift it is to be a human.
What a gift it is to feel.
May that gift – yet another staggering picture of his grace – lead us to deep, tearful, overcoming emotions, often and easily, that we may bring glory to the God who created them.
And may buttery popcorn fingers and grapefruits and laughter do the same.