Thursday, August 9, 2012

Emotionalists Anonymous

Cravings, urges, impulsive indulgence, self-destructive choices, flirtation with death, inflicting pain on loved ones - the common characteristics of an addict. But throw in one more addiction into the mix, far more destructive: emotionalism.

Emotionalists surround us every day.  They may have steady jobs and appear to be rational and intelligent but when confronted with a choice to go with their feelings or their head, feelings win out big time.

They know that they’re making poor choices, just like the alcoholic knows the dangers of his problem.  They’ve been steeped in a culture of emotion, and most have come from generations of emotionalists.  Choosing not to make emotional decisions is a monumental effort. Gut instincts tell them to go with what they feel over what they know, and their gut is their moral compass.

As drug addicts can hand down their tendencies to their children, emotionalism can be instilled in a child from the womb and reinforced well into adulthood when they procreate a new generation of emotionalists.

Lana is just one of many who I know.  Her mother was a prostitute and raised her among very corrupt and unscrupulous people.  She was raped as a child by a few of her mother’s business acquaintances. Lana was starved for love and affection, and found that the attention gained from men gave her a fleeting feeling of being loved, so she allowed herself to be taken advantage of frequently.  She knew that it was not the same thing as love, but the emotional facsimile that these relationships produced was close enough for her to accept.

Lana came to church wanting to clean up her life.  She knew she needed God.  She cried multiple times during each service.  She came forward for every prayer.  She gave her life to God over and over.  But Lana was an addict.  Emotions had her in a choke hold.

When it came to listening and agreeing with what she was taught, Lana was all for it.  But when she walked out the church’s doors and faced her daily attack of doubts and fears of abandonment, she relied on her feelings.  To some women, the question of “should I sleep with this strange man because I’m mad at my boyfriend,” doesn’t even cross their mind.  It’s a disgusting and laughable thought.  But to Lana, it was a struggle to resist.  She believed in the Bible.  She wanted to love God.  But her addiction is overwhelming.

But emotionalists don’t just come from the fringes of society.  They fill every class on every level.  The well-to-do intellectual who suffers bouts of depression doesn’t enjoy church because the music is hokey, and the church experience doesn’t appeal to his sense of coolness.  Forget the fact that many in the church have overcome depression and worse, he doesn’t want to sacrifice his appearance of independence for the sake of healing. He claims to be independent, but needs his anti-depressants and can’t fall asleep at night without music blaring in his ears.  Going to God just doesn’t feel like it will fit into his lifestyle.

The doting mother who wants her children to grow up and get a good education, can’t understand why they rebel and disrespect her.  The more she shouts at them, withholds privileges, scolds and lectures, the more they roll their eyes and block her out of their lives.  The older ones who have left home barely ever come around to see her.  She wants intelligent children, but her own intelligence takes a back seat to her demanding, controlling, fearful nature.  Her addiction is killing her children’s love for her.

The high-earning husband who can’t understand why his wife keeps asking if he still loves her, feels badgered and irritated in his marriage.  She complains that he doesn’t spend enough time with her, but the rest of her words turn into a blur of nagging that feels too painful to listen to.  He decides that if she’s unhappy with him, rather than do what she asks, he’ll do what he feels is best - work harder and earn more money to provide for their home.  He comes home later, goes to work earlier, doesn’t complain with her incessant chatter, and believes himself to be a hero, only to find that she doesn’t appreciate any of it and leaves him for another man.

The infiltration of drugs and the plague of alcoholism had been destroying our nation one soul at a time.  But the addiction to emotions is the worst kind of plague.  It’s the foundation of all other addictions, depression, broken homes and failed relationships.  It is the giant barrier that blocks people from truly finding God and truly experiencing freedom and power in this world and salvation in the world to come.  If Christians fall into this addiction, then what hope does the world have?


Baithuti said...

As long as our sinful emotional nature is in charge, we will never be truly free. I was a lot like Lana before, usually asking God forgiveness repeatedly for the same thing. Until I realised that this was not intelligent behaviour, I got angry at that situation and fought for my salvation with all my strength. I killed my old self (which meant saying no to my desires). There is a way out for the emotionalist, and that is the way of the sacrifice (Jesus).

Laura Reading, USA said...

Powerful article that I can truly relate to. so how do we overcome the addiction of emotionalism?