It’s a popular phrase heard everywhere in modern Christianity.
“Your relationship with God should not be based on emotions.”
It’s true, the basis of any relationship should not be based fully on what we feel in a certain situation. For example, I felt like my ex boyfriend was going to be my future husband. My emotions told me that I was in love with him and that was enough. But the truth was that he was NOTHING like what God said in his word that he wanted for me in a man. And my thinking he was “the one” was nothing but a high-strung emotional fantasy.
Looking at it through this lens, the foundation of what we believe needs to be based on the truth of who God is. It can’t be based on our wrongly conceived ideals of what we think a god SHOULD be, but rather on the reality of Him and His character. Just because we FEEL like something should be right doesn’t mean that it is, and just because we FEEL like something should be wrong doesn’t mean that God views in it the same way. Scripture gives us a perfectly clear picture of God and His desires in our lives, and through the revelation of the Holy Spirit we can come to a correct and foundational understanding of our Lord without the wrong theology that comes from our feelings.
Here’s the problem with that phrase, though. The majority of the time, saying our relationship with God shouldn’t be based on emotions comes with a wrongful assumption that an emotional believer is a non-biblical believer.
God made me into an emotional human. I typically refer to myself as “hyper-emotional,” and even that doesn’t quite seem to cut it. I’ve always been called dramatic and over zealous, and for most of my life I was ashamed of this quality. I hated that I was the only one who would cry during every single session of youth camp. I hated that I would weep for hours into my pillow when everybody else around me was okay. I hated that the way I experienced God was different than everybody else in my life. I prayed that God would change me and make me more of a stone-faced creature. I begged him to take away these emotions that overwhelmed me the majority of the time.
But during my time in Alaska last year, I discovered something that absolutely changed my life. As I grew closer to God, the fruit in my life turned out to be even more emotions! And what was even better, I started to love them. I discovered that because my foundation was truth, my walk became more intimate as a by-product. I experienced greater joy, because I understood how much the Father was rejoicing with me in the difficult times. I experienced deeper hurt, because I knew that when I was hurting my God was right beside me holding me and telling me that it was okay to feel the way that I did. I allowed myself to come to a place of experiencing, in full, the emotions that God blessed me with, and absolutely loving them.
There is a caution with this: our emotions on their own cannot be taken as absolute truth. With the reality of God comes a reality of an enemy, one that Scripture tells us is out to steal, kill, and destroy us. He thrives on manipulating emotions, and if we are not careful we can give him legal ground in our lives by giving our emotions to him rather than to God. But with this caution also comes great joy at what God can turn around for His glory! When I feel weak, God can turn those feelings into an opportunity to show His great strength. My great happiness and excitement from the things God teaches me is a slap in the face to this enemy that wishes nothing but my harm.
I am an emotional believer, but I am also a biblically based one. I cry, and my Father cries with me. I laugh, and Jesus laughs with me. Emotions are a beautiful thing, and a thing that I am continuously thankful for. No, our relationship with God should not be based on emotions, but we should celebrate and accept the emotional responses that we have as we grow in His truth. Psalm 56:8 even declares that, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” If God Himself collects and records our emotions, then why should we ever disregard them?