Wednesday, October 7, 2015

(Don't) Smile! Jesus Loves You!

     The title caught your eye? Good. That's kind of the point. Yes, Jesus DOES love you, and no, I'm not trying to be heretical or start a cult or anything. Jesus loves you more than life itself! He loves you so much He died for you! Let's clear that up right off. But that doesn't mean you have to smile. I promise, I'm gonna explain my opinion on this... (and I'll probably step on some toes, but I feel like we need to talk about this).
(Remember this?)

      Let's have an honest conversation about what it means to be human. I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a Christian, while simultaneously being human. Too often when people come to Jesus, they try to leave their humanity behind. Guys, we still live in a broken world, and like it or not, we're still broken people. Yes, we are redeemed and set free and adopted as sons and daughters of God.... but we are NOT perfect.
      And I think that's the way it's supposed to be this side of heaven.
      After living in Christian communities my entire life, a question that has been weighing on my mind is: Is it OK to not be OK?
     Think about that.
      When you are having a bad day, a bad week, a bad year, do you feel comfortable NOT being OK in Christian circles? Sometimes I don't.
      I think a lot of times it's easier to be not OK outside of the body of Christ... and that's not OK.
      I usually try to be a pleasant person, but I do have bad days. Sometimes I feel sad, lonely, depressed, anxious, or scared. That's called "being human." But there have been times when I have let myself show my negative emotions, and then people are like, "Smile!" "Don't look so down!" "Cheer up!" What kind of a message are we sending when we tell our brothers and sisters in Christ to "just smile" when they're having a bad day? The message I get is that it's not OK to not be OK. That we should always be happy, bubbly people. That negative emotions are something to be ashamed of and hide. That it might even be sinful to experience such emotions.
      But that's just not true.
      Being human means experiencing the whole gamut of emotions! Let's not forget: even Jesus outwardly experienced negative emotions. He did not try to hide His anger or sadness. And Jesus is PERFECT. Shouldn't this tell us something? Shouldn't the body of Christ, of ALL places, be a safe zone for experiencing and expressing any emotions? The good, the bad, and the ugly?
     In the church, are we free to be human?
     I want to be a person that people feel comfortable just being open, honest, and real with. And I want to set an example by being open, honest, and real. I want to share the message that yes, Jesus loves you, but that doesn't mean you have to smile. Jesus loves you when you cry, tremble in fear, or tense up in anger just as much as when you smile, sigh in contentment, or laugh 'till your sides hurt (which I did the other night, and it felt so good!). It's awesome to be happy! But when we set happiness up on a pedestal and hide all the other emotions, we are missing out on a lot of what it means to be human.
      Have you seen Inside Out? Pixar has a knack for creating stories that are quite insightful. With Inside Out, I think this is especially so. As a psychology major, I really appreciate the research that obviously went into the movie. As a person (and a Christian), I appreciate the honesty. A big message in that movie is that all emotions (including sadness, disgust, and fear) play an important part in making us who we are. We NEED to experience the full range of emotions! It's a very refreshing movie (and very clean, and also quite funny!).

      Anyway, I guess by all this I just want Christians to think about the atmosphere we create. Is it an atmosphere where we feel like we always have to smile? Or is it an atmosphere where we feel free to be open, honest, and real?
      I'm still trying to process all of this myself, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! Please leave a comment, even if you aren't on Blogger (you can comment without an account. I think you just choose "anonymous" and leave your name in the post somewhere if you want me to have it :)
      Thanks for reading!


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  2. Sorry for crazy spelling...I should have spellchecked it ...woops!! But you get the♡♡♡♡♡

  3. Amber u could not be more right!! I have nkt always walked the walk i needed to and most know this!!! I do not let that define who i am today tho but yes at this precise moment i am having anxiety ....depression and anger! I still know God loves me and understands bc of my situation but i talk to God daily!! And lol...u rem how i do this...haha...but yes i am happy with who i am but not where i am in life and God knows that i have weaknesses and He helps me daily!!! It is OK NOT TO BE OK!!! God understands i am human and i am going to fail daily!!! I try to carry on like i am happy for others bc its not their battle and i feel like i being them down...but God sees all my tears thru my smiles and all the pain in my eyes even when ppl say ANGELA U ARE GLOWING TODAY!!! Well ty i God doesn't fault me for that! And everyday i am glad to be a Christian and that i have God on my side...and that is a wonderful feeling...But to sum up all this i am trying to say is your post really touched me and hit home HARD!!!! TY FOR THAT AND AMBER I LOVE YOU! And just know from experience "IT'S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY"....Real not Fake!!!! Love you!!!!!

    1. I like that, Angela...Real not Fake!!!! And when you put it that way, why, it sounds wrong to always pretend we are okay, when we are not. Like Pam said, we need to be careful in who we open up to, but to present to the world that Christians are always just fine? No wonder many resist coming to Christ. They know how bad off their life is now and maybe feel that being a Christian is "impossible" for them! And that is a hurtful thought. To turn someone away from Christianity OR giving false impressions. The world needs more genuine people who are also Christian.

    2. Hi Angela! Thanks so much for commenting on my post and leaving your thoughts. I'm glad you were able to be encouraged by what I said :) It's just something that's been on my mind a lot lately, and especially since a chapel service we had a few days ago on the topic of depression... Really good! I love you too and hope to see you soon!

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Amber! I really enjoy reading your blog and I agree that it is hard sometimes in this life, to be "real" with people. . instead we just try to be happy so we don't "dump" all over people. . . I think I am right in saying that the Holy Spirit should be our guide as to when we should be completely "real" and when we should hold back some of what we are really feeling--simply because some people are either (1) not going to be helpful so we might as well zip it or we'll end up getting MORE discouraged! Or (2) are not mature enough in the Lord to be able to be encouraged and edified by us being "real"--instead our being real might be a stumbling block to someone who is weak.. . But other than those 2 times, I "happily" go about being 'real" because I feel that's only being honest, and God doesn't want us to live a lie! :) I think sometimes people wish I wasn't so blunt or honest but as long as I don't sin in being so, then I am not here to please people, but to please the Lord Jesus :) "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." 2 Cor. 5:9 Amber, I LOVE LOVE LOVE (!) your candidness and you are also an excellent writer!!
    Love in Jesus, Mrs. Pam :)

    1. Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts on here, Mrs. Pam! I really appreciate it! And I agree with you, we need to use discernment in who we're open with. It's not always the right time or the right place. I just have to keep reminding myself to be open, because I naturally tend toward the OPPOSITE extreme... Thanks again for sharing!

  5. Great insight Pam. Being careful with who and how much we share our negative emotions with is a point to be made too. I think we instinctively know when we need to be cautious. Thanks for sharing!

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