I’m not a fan of cheesy Christian movies — you know the ones where saints recent and ancient stand around looking holy and emotionally detached from both the darkness swirling around them and the choir-accompanied beams of light shining down upon their humble heads? Yeah, those.
Somehow in my culture self-control/moderation means the denial of all but mildly pleasant expressions of emotion. The other-worldly subtle Mona Lisa smile in the midst of both murky darkness and beaming light. Peace is a placid becalmed sea oblivious to the movement of air currents. Saint Sebastian skewered full of arrows with an expression that looks like he’s wondering if he needs to pick up milk and bread on the way home.
Some in our midst have taken on the role of emotional moderators, rather like volunteer sound techies whose aim is to keep the dial as close to the center line as possible, thus cancelling out any dynamic range the musicians may have intended. “It’s not that bad….It’s not that good… Don’t get too excited…No drama please.” Those who feel deeply learn to hide.
Jesus doesn’t seem to have been hampered by emotionally restrictive parameters.
In the days of His flesh [Jesus] offered up definite, special petitions [for that which He not only wanted but needed] and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him Who was [always] able to save Him [out] from death, and He was heard because of His reverence toward God [His godly fear, His piety, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father]. Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8 Amplified)
Jesus could be loud, passionate, dramatic, and unafraid of tears. He could weep beside his grieving friends and he could be beside himself with joy when he saw how the Father revealed himself to the less-than-mighty. He could be silent. He was not manipulative with his emotional expressions (any parent of a toddler knows the difference between a pain cry and a but-I-wanna cry of protest.) Christ was reverently respectful but emotionally honest.
Dysfunctional families preach the message: Don’t think. Don’t talk. Don’t feel. Violators are shamed. God’s plan is for his family to be lovingly functional.
Our heavenly Father invites us to engage in shame-less communication with him. We don’t need to check our brains or our hearts at the gate or hide behind bushes of reserve. The secret place in his presence is the safest place on earth. He can handle our “drama” in the process of helping us grow in grace and knowledge. He is the perfect Father we all wish we had -and all of the love he directed at his son is also directed at us as we abide in him.