Does emotion hinder or does it help? To many people, emotion is a pointless burden. It seems to linger purposelessly forever like a plastic bottle in a landfill.
Obstacles impede progress. You must expend more effort to move beyond the obstacles in your path. Some obstacles cannot be removed by your effort alone.
Bridges on the other hand smooth the journey. Someone already cleared the path which makes your end goal possible and maybe easier. Although, some bridges are challenging to cross. The journey is strenuous, not because of the path, but because of what must be left behind.
Whether the emotion is a positive experience for you or a negative one, depends on your perspective. Rocks in your pack can be considered an affliction, but they could also be a blessing in disguise–they can help you grow stronger so you can move obstacles out of your way. What seems like an obstacle one day, might eventually come to be seen as a benefit.
Emotion is Like an Obstacle
Emotion is never bad; it’s only the messenger. We’re not supposed to shoot the messenger. But what is a person to do when the message is overwhelmingly negative? When emotion is immobilizing, it acts like an obstacle to progress. But it really is only a pivot point loaded with potential.
A person can lean into the negative message and become all the more discouraged. A person can also block out the message. Rough, calloused hands and fingertips are a sign of hard work. Your body forms a protective layer while you get work done.
In an emotionally risky environment, it’s natural to develop an insulative layer to protect your heart. Some negative environments you can avoid completely. And you should. But in other environments, you can’t.
Everyone is going to have some emotional callousness. Adam and Eve became overly defensive after the fall. Over-protection is a tendency we all have to work at overcoming.
You have an automatic defense system that sometimes malfunctions.
Sometimes your defensive system protects you so well that you don’t even know what it’s protecting. I’m lost; I don’t know who I am. At other times, you’re surprisingly vulnerable. Why am I flooded with emotion now?
Emotion is Like a Bridge
Because God exists, hope exists. No circumstance can determine the final outcome of your life. Because of God, emotion, even discouragement, can be productive.
Everything has a purpose–even negative feelings. You can’t avoid all risky environments because there’s no heaven on earth. So the best anyone can do is commit to crossing the emotional bridge.
Emotion can always become a bridge to a better place. That bridge can look like an obstacle, at first glance. Maybe you aren’t ready to leave behind what is comfortable, whether that be numbness or negativity. Maybe you aren’t ready to find out who you are deep down.
Crossing the bridge means embarking on a journey to becoming alive.
The obstacle to a better future is refusing to leave behind the past. You can only escape past and present pain by crossing the bridge of emotion. As you feel what you’ve experienced, it will carry you forward.
God didn’t make us to journey alone. We need traveling companions to help ease the pain of seeking true living that God has planned for us. Avoiding future pain is wise… unless that pain is needed to make you into a better person. Or perhaps the better way to put that is becoming a better person always involved confronting your pain.
If you’d like to better understand how difficult emotions can be blessings, try the book Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.