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!