09 June, 2006

Sidebar: Feelings at church

A couple of things conspired to bring a question to the top of my mind.

The first is that I lost the first tennis match of the season on Saturday. I think I lost because I tried to control my feelings. When you are as emotional a person as I am, that is usually a recipe for disaster. Every single time I try to "control" my feelings, I end up submerging most of "me". I played horribly, and I think it is because I was trying to be a Borg (I'll let you decide which Borg I mean.)

As I cogitated on this, I inevitably drifted back to society and church. I will make two blanket statements, and ignore the exceptions. In society, the accepted public emotion is laughter. We are Americans, and we enjoy people who are entertained and entertaining. In the church, the accepted public emotion is joy.

In either society or church, you are only narrowly allowed to express other feelings, as long as you narrarate the feeling, rather than feel it. The accepted emotions are allowed to come out and play, but the other emotions have to be seen through the window. (Picture a family with 8 kids. One of them is on the front lawn, playing with friends, while the others are in the house staring out the front window.) You can tell about feeling anger, or desire, or fear, or love, or despair, or daring but you cannot actually feel them with your brothers and sisters.

What do you think? Do I have a point here, and if so is it, good or bad?

20 comments:

Milly said...

I think you have a point if I read it right, If not I might not have one. (Not a first

I can’t feel what you are feeling even if we are going through the same thing. IE if you and I were both going through a divorce at the same time we would be feeling it differently we are different people with different life builds (Millyism). The church most likely keeps it safe because it’s safer. If you and I were sitting here we could talk about everything. We could pull our insides out and look at them. No problem we can cry, be angry, and laugh. One on one is easy. A big group it’s hard and how to say what needs to be said and who’s rules do we follow? I can’t imagine sitting in a group and saying “Hi I’m Milly and I love Vodka” I can see sitting with you and telling you how I feel about the taste, the way I feel when I ‘m drinking and how it affected my life. I’m good with a mask on in a group I hate the idea of being unmasked.

Here is what happens when your minister say how things are going for real in the church. “I wish he’d move on.” “ I come to be lifted up” . We can’t always take the truth.

Now for you playing tennis if you allow yourself to beat yourself you will be beaten. Get out of your head and let the game take you where you should go. Be who you are and good tennis play who loves the game. (For the book ;-0 )

DugALug said...

CP,

I think you have been assimilated... lol... but I digress.

Bjorn showed emotion, especially when it came the John McEnroe (sp?). Bjorn was my favorite, and he was model of being in control, yet he was wild. Long hair, and bandana... come on! He was cool.

Firstly, I don't think laughter is an emotion, laughter is the result of a joyous moment.

I would have to say that it is not an matter of acceptable public/church emotion, but rather if the emotion has control over you.

In society, some people are what we call 'over the top.' Jack Black comes to mind: here's is a guy who lays it all on the line. He is crazy, and while he is socially unacceptable, he is accepted because he does a lot of thing we only think of doing (He's a no-good liberal poll-cat too, I might add.).

The church focuses on what is propper and 'orderly', yet we have our rebels too. Still the church culture lauds those who have control of their emotions rather than vice-versa. The result is that people describe what they are feeling to demonstrate that it is not obvious on their face or body language.

I don't know if this is where you were going, but this is again my 2 cents.

God Bless
Doug

Kansas Bob said...

The only the I can think of ... can't believe that I am going to say this ... the church is emotionally constipated and in need of an emotional enema. "Emotional" people really get most people (in general) out of their comfort zone. We are like an enema - nobody likes them but many people need them.

The challenge for we passionate people is to connect with our hearts and release our emotions from our heart and not our flesh. Much easier said than done.

codepoke said...

This was really a post without a point. I don't have an answer in mind. I strongly feel the desire to express more variety of emotion in church than I am allowed, but I don't know what the right answer is.

Emotions are disturbing. That causes them to be a motive force. Movement is good, but disrupting inappropriately is bad.

codepoke said...

Milly,

The church most likely keeps it safe because it’s safer.
Yeah. I agree. I believe the church has to get out of the big groups. I think this is just one more argument against the huge sanctuary meeting being the heart of the church.

Get out of your head and let the game take you
Do you imagine that I don't know this? I find that I am capable of it, but not dependably.

I'm watching Federer right now, and I know exactly what is happening to him. His strategy is the winning one. The first set proved it. But he let a point disturb him at the beginning of the second set, and he never came back. You can see the doubt in his hand. You can see him falling back from a winning strategy. You can see him shanking shots because his mind is so full of the thought that he might hit it an inch long.

And intermixed are moments of utter brilliance.

I want Roger to shake this off. I have done it before. I have come back from being ridiculously down to dominate and beat an equal opponent. It can be done, and Roger can do it - even against Nadal. But, if he does not, I will understand why.

I cannot just "get out of my head." It is bigger than I am a lot of the time.

codepoke said...

DugALug,

Bjorn was my favorite, and he was model of being in control, yet he was wild. Long hair, and bandana... come on! He was cool.

You confuse the appearance of emotion with the reality. I could hold all the cool in my whole person in a very small thimble and have room left over for my finger. But emotion? That I can do.

rather if the emotion has control over you.

Ah. The rub.

If your idea of fiery emotion is the iceman, then just go ahead and say that you don't think emotion should be in the church. If a man is unable to stop crying, then I have to assume you would say the emotion has control over him.

Emotions need to run a little bit. If you are more concerned with the reins than with the run, then you are against emotions in church.

result is that people describe what they are feeling to demonstrate that it is not obvious on their face or body language.

And here I type, doing this very thing.

codepoke said...

KB,

I am going to reaffirm that I don't know the right answer, but I sure like your take. Amen.

I wonder what emotions in the church and under the control of the Spirit will look like. I think we need to see them.

Milly said...

Codepoke,

Do you imagine that I don't know this? I find that I am capable of it, but not dependably.

I was thinking about Bryan as I read this. He was a big burley boy from high school who could wrestle I loved watching him. I hated it when he would lose, he lost because he beat himself. I tried telling him to get out of his head over and over again and he basically said the same thing that you did. He also would hold me too tight I told him over and over again. So I'll stop telling you to get out of . . .See I can do it. I can stop any time. . .I can :-}

I had a horrible rehearsal today yet we pulled it off very well, in fact I about cried during All And All it sounded so good. (Not bragging it was God. I was on the helm for the first time and alone with new stuff) Point is that we select at times to separate ourselves in all sorts of crowds. As I said I would do better in a one on one situation then in a big crowd, or even a group of say ten. I have to feel safe to let my feeling go. I’ve sat in small group where I was the only one who wasn’t saying how I felt because it wasn't a safe place to me. I think this one depends on the individual. I’ve seen people really let it out in front of about 700 people on a Sunday.

DugALug said...

CP,

You confuse the appearance of emotion with the reality.

Maybe, but he wasn't called The Fiery Sweed because of his pin-striped shirts.

I think you are confusing appearance with strategy.

If a man is unable to stop crying, then I have to assume you would say the emotion has control over him.


Hardly, I say that if a man cries, let him do it. You are taking what I wrote as what I believe is the way it should be. I wrote as to what it is... reality versus people's perception. Emotion is what it is, I think it is dishonest to hide it.

We start with young boys: we tell them big-boys don't cry... that is a crock. There is a need to control emotion, but go scratch a man's new sports car and watch the tears fall (I am making a point here, not encouraging vandalism).

Emotion is part of our very fiber and it is obvious through scripture that God Himself was emotional... including crying. If He is our role-model, then, by golly, let the tears roll.

God Bless
Doug

codepoke said...

Milly,

See I can do it. I can stop any time. . .I can :-}

:-D

Hilarious. Thank you, friend.

codepoke said...

DugALug,

You are taking what I wrote as what I believe is the way it should be.

Ah. Yes, I was specifically asking what should be.

And crying is only the weakest example. There are other, much more important emotions that could come out in a group setting.

codepoke said...

Milly,

I’ve sat in small group where I was the only one who wasn’t saying how I felt because it wasn't a safe place to me.

Exactly. We all have different levels of emotion, and different comfort points. I am usually more comfortable being emotional in public than most anyone I know. I respect your level of comfort, too.

DugALug said...

Ah. Yes, I was specifically asking what should be.

Ummm no, you made a blanket comment that laughter/joy is the prevailing socially acceptable emotion. And I was saying 'not so fast, my tennis-loving friend'

Crying is a week example?... I would say it is an extreme example. How about anger? Is anger acceptable in church? It worked for Jesus.

How about sarcasm? That worked for Jesus too.

How about compassion, love, disapointment, sympathy and weariness? Wow Jesus showed all them too!

Sounds to me like God's model is pretty clear. The only thing was the His emotions didn't have control over Him.

God Bless
Doug

codepoke said...

DugALug,

How about compassion, love, disapointment, sympathy and weariness? Wow Jesus showed all them too!

So you are in favor of showing more emotions in church? As long as they are controlled?

DugALug said...

CP,

So you are in favor of showing more emotions in church? As long as they are controlled?

Controlled? Nah! As long as it is sincere and appropriate. It comes back to Ecclesiastes 3:

Sing it with me!

Ecclesiastes 3

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.


God Bless
Doug

Milly said...

I met the Byrds. :-} Cool dudes.

codepoke said...

Well said, DugALug. (And I had a hard time figuring out what Milly's comment could possibly mean when it hit my inbox. :-D)

Milly said...

See I'm a child of the 60's Turn Turn Turn :-} Peace Love and Hope man!

DugALug said...

See I'm a child of the 60's Turn Turn Turn :-} Peace Love and Hope man!

And I am a biproduct of them. Out house was filled with 60's folk, and 60's rock: all the classics. My parents even tried to go to Woodstock and turned around because there was too much traffic (we lived on Long Island at the time).

I can't imagine them in that light. lol... it is kind of funny.

Metting the Byrds would have been kind of cool.

God Bless
Doug

codepoke said...

I had to come back to this. The only instance of the phrase "Fiery Swede" on the same page with "Bjorn" references a motorcycle racer.

Googlefight:
"bjorn borg" "fiery swede" = 0
"john macenroe" "fiery" = 61
"bjorn borg" "iceman" = 567

Magnus Norman and Mats Wilander were both occasionally refered to as fiery Swedes.