Emotions and Spiritual Roller Coasters

I've never been really comfortable with emotions. I'm aware I have them. I'm aware I have a lot of them. But they always seem to get in the way. They seem to cause me to be irrational and illogical in my behavior. And I don't like that. Unless I'm terribly enthusiastic about something (which I know you all find hard to believe), and then I'm ok with it.

And so I find myself confused with the spiritual highs and lows I seem to go through. My spiritual life seems highly emotional. Now, granted, I also feel like my faith is firmly rooted in prayer and plenty of time in God's word, among other spiritual disciplines, but I can't begin to describe the highs and lows my faith has gone through over the past year. Past two years. Past five years.

You see, right now is a point that I really like being a Christian. I am hopeful about God's church, His plan, and His people. In fact, I like being a Christian so much that I really think that it's the best thing for people to be. That shouldn't be surprising - that's what we're supposed to think.

But I know, because experience seems to bear this out, in a few days or a few weeks that will change. And I don't like that. Why is my faith full of such seemingly bipolar mood swings? How do I find some level plains instead of valleys and mountaintops.

I'm not sure - I realize God's spirit is a dynamic and fluid thing in my life. I realize that not having emotion is a little silly. It never works for me when I totally disengage emotionally. I guess I'll have to keep figuring it out - not everything is a mathematical formula. Tis a shame.



How's that for a good title? Now that I got your attention, let's get started.

When I was a sophomore in college I went on my first overseas mission trip. I've really been on two, but hey, that makes my plural statement correct right? My first trip was to the city of Warsaw, Poland. I loved that trip. Never had I been overseas, nor had I ever engaged people in one-on-one Bible studies.

Yet the trip struck me as slightly strange. We were given a book beforehand to read called Once a Catholic. I grew up thinking Catholics didn't read their Bible, and that they were a mighty, evil force against the true church. So off I went, encouraged by my local church, to convert the Catholic masses (no poor pun intended).

I came home greatly troubled by this. I wasn't really sure what I was doing over there, and why we were out to convert other people who believed in God as well - just a bit differently than us.

I have two coworkers at work of a different faith. One is Morman, one is Hindu. Almost daily we engage in spiritual conversations. Sadly, before I met them, my perceptions of their faiths was as limited as my views on Catholocism. But both of these men have strengthened me in my spiritual walk. My Morman coworker and I reguarly discuss scriptures, and different interpetations of God's word. It is uplifting and challenging. How can I let my Bible knowledge slip when I am challeneged by him? But even more challenging is the faith of my Hindu friend. He gets up every morning and meditates and prays for an hour before work. On Fridays, every Friday in fact, he fasts. Soon after I discovered this I was convicted of how little time I spent with God on a daily basis. And so I became more dilligent about my spiritual disciplines, as indicated by my last post. Obviously I can learn a lot from these guys.

I don't think I'll ever again believe that I own the corner on religion or God. How can I? He is too big, and I am too small. I'm not sure how this fits, but I know I look forward to more talks with my friends of different faiths.



I love discipline. Give me something to be disciplined about, and I'll do it with a passion. I think that is why I enjoyed running so much, and why I had some success in high school and college. I'm not a natural athlete, but I can show up and consistently do everything required in practice. Do I need to be up every day at 5:30? No problem...I'll go to bed earlier. Discipline...sacrifice...it's what I like most.

A few months ago I started having a lot of problems in my life. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally. I keep a regular prayer journal, and I looked and saw that I had neglected writing in it for several weeks at a time. I threw running out the window, and watched more and more television. Who needed discipline? Not I!

Then I stumbled upon one of my new favorite spiritual books, The Celebration of Discipline. And in it, the author challenged me to be disciplined about my relationship with God. To seek Him every day, no matter what is going on. To have spiritual things I do (be it fasting, reading, praying, meditating, etc.) on a daily basis. By doing that, I will develop a deeper, more spiritual, more intimate relationship with God.

That sounds great to me! I can do that. I think we can find God everywhere. I think we've tried to find God everywhere. But sometimes we forget that it takes dedication to build a relationship. Even with a close friend, we must regularly invest in that person. The deeper the relationship, the more constant the investment must be. Showing up and talking to God every three or four days might get you an acquaintance, but not an intimate friend. Yes, God loves me and loves you. But we have to get involved in the relationship as well.

I look forward to the new year. I look forward to a deeper faith. I look forward to knowing God better than I ever have.