Preface: Don’t Panic. Read the whole thing.
Something to listen to while reading:
zero-project: Touch of serenity
I am currently reading Eric Metaxas’ book “Seven Men,” where he looks at seven different men from history and asks what made them great men. In his chapter on Dietrich Bonhoeffer there is a line that says, ‘One of his students said that Bonhoeffer once asked him, “Do you love Jesus?” (pg. 99)’
Do I love Jesus?
I like him. I like the things he said. I agree with them. I think he is a good king and ruler, but do I love him?
How can I evangelize when I don’t even have an acceptable answer to that most basic of questions? How can I impact positively the people around me if I am unable to give that question an answer?
How can I persuade people to the absolute greatness of Jesus when I myself have not yet been fully persuaded in my own heart? I say “in my heart” because in my mind I have been persuaded. But those two things are not the same. The mind and the heart are not the same. My affections are separate, separated.
The three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. The three most important things in interpretation are context, context, context.
I say this as a warning for interpretation of the previous statements about whether I love Jesus. Here is part of my context.
My emotions are totally broken, and willfully so. It’s not a matter of them being underdeveloped, or malnourished. It’s a matter of my willfully having killed them; of knowing how to control my heart and the physical aspects of my body (like heart rate) so that I do not feel when I do not want to. This has been by modus operandi for dealing with sin and disappointment.
Even now, as I sit writing this and reviewing in my mind these things, I can feel myself controlling my heart rate and forcibly clearing my mind of emotions and thoughts that would make me sad. As I said, this is how I deal with sin and negative emotions. I have never been taught how to biblically process through negative emotions. All I know is that I do not like them and I have the ability to not feel them. So why not kill those emotions and move on? As for sin, I was never taught how to resist sin. I was told to flee it. The easiest way to flee sin, in my experience, is to kill the emotion leading me to that sin in its infancy; to calmly, coldly, rationally say no, and to murder the emotion. And it’s worked out pretty well so far.
Except, as you will have guessed, this “And it’s worked out pretty well so far,” comes with some problems. Namely, that I do not feel and am not moved from the heart when I ought to be. How do I love Jesus with all of my heart, when I killed and buried my heart behind a placid face a long time ago? How do I love anything for that matter?
Do I love Jesus?
No, but that is not because he is not lovely. It is because my heart and my emotions are so totally broken that I have no idea of how to love, or what it even looks like.
I would like to believe that my heart is actually really sensitive at its core, maybe even more so than most people. But I hate it getting hurt. And so the only way to protect it has been to seal it in a vault and throw it into the sea.
But perhaps that is only wishful thinking.
How do you help someone when you feel sadness at their state, but do not feel love for them? How do you get motivated to do anything, when your motivator is broken? I have a computer that works perfectly fine when on. However, the power button does not work and thus cannot be turned on. I view affections as the “on-button” of actions. How do I do anything, if I cannot be powered on?
This whole project, of feeling again (?), has been a long project in the running, beginning in January of last year with the start of a story I wanted to write. I knew at the outset that the story would fall flat on its face if I, as the author, were not able to feel the various parts of the story. Thus I picked out songs that I felt fit various scenes from the story and made a playlist so that I could feel my way through the story. The only problem with this process is that there are significant parts of the story that are sad, and so there were a lot of songs that reflect that emotion. So eventually I had to stop listening to the playlist, to preserve my sanity.
But this was a defibrillator shock to my heart that I needed. In fact the whole writing process has been really good for me, on various levels (now I just need someone to listen to the outline I have for the first book and ask good questions that will help me better be able to direct my writing).
However, the process of integrating my emotions into my actions is scary for me. This (killed emotions) has been the way I have operated for numerous years, and I don’t remember when I have not operated this way. I feel like I am messing with the bios of my heart, where one wrong move will irreparably brick the machine.
So how does one wake up a coma patient? “Hey, Heart, you awake?” No answer. How does one fix what one does not know how to repair?
I hate showing process, because people look at you as though you are already completed and judge you for that. I don’t like showing myself or what I think or what I write until I am completely done because I do not want to be judged and evaluated on work that is only half done. But when in this life will anything be fully done?
Do I love Jesus?
In the broken state that I am in, so far as I am able, yes. But I need further sanctification before I will truly be able to say that I love him with all my heart.