Our emotional subtext

Today, I got overwhelmed at the A-Z of American visa options, and the amount of things that need doing before we move house/country. And, after Tim’s repeated “we need a to do list” and my response “I don’t know where to start”, he finally turned on Dr Phil and left for work, ordering me to get some brain space. Now, some Christians are anti psychology. Some Christians are anti anything popular. And I understand the tensions in these things. Neither self-help programs or pop culture can ultimately take the place of the Bible. But I’m not convinced that either is trying to.

Anyways, so there was a lady on the show who was ANGRY. She was angry at her kids, she was angry at the world, she was angry at Dr Phil and she even got angry at the audience. And Dr Phil asked her a question, “Why are you angry?”

Her first response was “I don’t know”. But then, he asked the question again, and she started to say “I’m angry at the world because I feel it has let me down. I’m angry at my mother because she left when I was four. I’m angry at the driver in front of me who cuts me off because I am going somewhere – I am valid too. I’m angry at the driver on the mobile phone because it’s illegal, and I feel unsafe…” she rattled off about fifteen reasons she was angry, and the emotional subtext underneath it.

And it reminded me of all the times in the Bible when God asks questions. They range from the pointed, “Where were you when I made the earth?” (Job 38:4) through to Jesus’ evident frustration with the disciples,“Are you still so dull?” in response to being asked to explain his political comments against the Pharisees. I love that God cuts to the subtext. Jesus asks a little boy, “How many loaves do you have?” as if unaware of the thousands of hungry eyes on the hill behind them as they speak. When the disciples were trying to use their position to scam a good deal for themselves, he asked “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”, silencing their proud thoughts of self-promotion.

And I love the little interchanges like Matthew 20. Two blind men follow Jesus in the square, yelling “Son of David have mercy upon us!! Son of David have mercy upon us!” Jesus eventually turns around and asks “What do you want me to do for you?”, and the answer “we want our sight” is as clear as crystal. No layers, no pretense. It’s humanity at it’s most honest. And he heals them immediately.

So much of our life lets us pile layer upon layer of emotional protection, our hurts and hidden motives. My prayer today is to be able to cut to the subtext and be honest about what I really want from God.

2 thoughts on “Our emotional subtext

  1. Well said Tanya – well said. I heard an Orthodox professor once say about the psalms.

    They are not to be read and analysed. Instead they are to be lived and experienced…and through this you will know the power of God in your life.

  2. I love that God asks questions! You gathered a really nice selection of examples, thanks!

    And the beauty of the questions from God is that they’re not asked because there is additional information God ‘needs to know’, but because he wants us – me – to think and grow, and like you said, be honest.

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