I’m here today to tell you that your emotions are valid.
Your fear and anger and joy are valid. Please don’t let others bully you into thinking otherwise. Emotions are signals from your soul which you shouldn’t ignore. You should be aware of them and learn how to process them in a healthy way. Sadly I’m only just learning this, as I and many others have an unhealthy background of shame about certain emotions which has been pushed on us by others, especially within the Christian community by other Christians and the Church leadership.
Not all churches do this, of course, but it is a huge problem, especially in the Patriarchal movement (and I’ve seen it in other types of churches, too.)
Why is the Christian church so determined to squelch certain emotions? After all, what are emotions but something God created for us to understand and process? This is a real problem that happens to real people and it needs to be addressed by somebody!
As a teenager I thought I couldn’t feel confidence because at church it meant I wasn’t thinking of myself as a humble worm that barely deserved God’s mercy for being a sinner. I quickly learned that to express fear for something was to show I wasn’t a strong Christian who didn’t trust God enough.
To speak my opinions or thoughts as woman was not seen as living honestly but as not having a “meek and quiet spirit” and “not being submissive to your father’s leadership.”
I’ve seen others swallowed in depression because their church shamed them for their feelings and verbally abused them into thinking they simply had weak faith. My own mom, who felt distrust in her marriage, was told by both my Bible thumping father and several elders, that she just needed to “trust” him more, to follow him blindly because that showed stronger faith.
This is a crisp example of spiritual abuse dealt out by the church itself, in the form of literally telling people what they are feeling is wrong.
Even the emotion joy is trampled on within the Church, in my experience.
After watching Star Wars for the first time in 2011, my sister and I fell in love with the films. However our Baptist friends were so concerned with critically analyzing them for Biblical flaws that we began to hide our joy. That way we wouldn’t be interpreted as passive Christians who wouldn’t take “every thought captive.” We had the same experience when The Avengers later came out in 2012.
I know many Christians can face this over the experience of Harry Potter as well. Isn’t that awful?
God gave us emotions to find joy in love and to grow despite fear, so why are we told that fear is bad? The Church should help us in our journey and NOT tell us that what we’re feeling is wrong.
The Church should never tell me my emotions are invalid. Sadly, many of them do anyway and at twenty years of age I now know they are wrong to do so. So that’s why I’m writing this: Not to say the Church is hopeless or to say that every Christian Church-Goer is like this, but to simply say from me to you:
You Are Valid.
I want you to know this. What you are thinking and feeling right this moment is valid. Do not be guilted by someone who can quote scripture more fluently then you that somehow what you feel is not true for you. Emotions were given to us by God, so embrace them, process them, learn from them, enjoy them: Because that’s what they are there to do.
Don’t tell yourself, “No, I can’t be angry, that’s a sin.” Instead, ask, “Why am I angry?” and get to the root of the problem instead. Anger is a warning sign that something must be mended–either within yourself or in the environment around you. You put yourself in danger by trying to hide it. How can you keep a house from flooding without acknowledging you can see the water creeping through the cracks?!
Even Jesus had a righteous anger: He didn’t smother it, he expressed it. That’s the key.
The same goes for discomfort and contentment. Annoyance and anxiety. Guilt and love. You name it, that emotion is a valid signal that no one should shame you for having. Work through your feelings with safe people who can validate you as a person; people who show empathy instead of shame; people who can relate to you as a human.
Along these lines, don’t let Christians try to twist your story into a mirror image of their own by shaming you for your struggles or even for liking something they personally don’t care for. *sigh* Why couldn’t I have just enjoyed Star Wars?
God has made you as you with your own journey and your own interests that are different from others and that’s okay. You’re likes and dislikes are valid too.
Something to watch out for is Scripture to be used against validating your emotions, such as the verse that goes:“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” This verse has been twisted, in my experience, to mean: “Don’t trust your feelings and inner signals because it’s all a façade, you can’t trust yourself at all, so listen to what I have to say instead.” Beware.
Yes, of course, we all make mistakes. We are all flawed within our hearts. However, that does not make our God-given emotions invalid, gosh darn-it! This scripture should be used to look within and not out at others. Sadly Christians have battered me with such a verse for having emotions that they think doesn’t exhibited faith or reformed Christian head knowledge!
No one should judge you against their own life’s journey because they think a scripture verse allows them to. This is wrong, it is spiritual abuse and it can mess up your head very badly in connection to something beautiful, like real-life faith. Such Bible-beating must stop.
I want to make it clear here as I bring this towards an ending, that this post is not targeted specifically at anyone, even though I can think of several people who’ve specifically done this towards my family (when I speak family, I exclude my dad because he was one of the abusers.) And I’m not trying to say that those who’ve abused scripture are necessarily meaning to be cruel. I think many of those people were simply trying to hide their own emotions and by examining others instead were able to be distracted.
We are all in need of empathy and understanding but that does not mean we should simply submit ourselves to abuse.
So, I am specifically attempting to bring light on a subject of spiritual abuse that has chased my family for many years. I want people to be aware of this problem because it needs to be recognized by unsuspecting victims, well-meaning abusers, and people who stand by completely ignorant either way. This is a problem.
It’s time that the Christian Church stops invalidating the spectrum of human emotion and instead aid their flocks into maturity and mental health by processing those emotions instead of burying them.
But that could be a long time coming.
So please just know from me: You are special. You are wonderfully created to have strengths and weakness which will give you a life-long journey of discovery and growth. You have interests which God has placed in you, with emotions that are there for a reason. So treasure them, respect them, and learn from them.
And never let anyone tell you ever again that you are not valid.