Monday, September 8, 2014

Brother Ass

Pieter Lastman, Balaam i oslica, PD, via Wikimedia Commons

I've been thinking a lot about how we carry our emotions in our bodies. We feel fear as a knot in our stomach or a race in our pulses. We feel joy in the sudden rush of adrenalin and a glow on our faces.

But so often we ignore the emotions. (Which we can't do. Not really.)  We don't want to feel them, especially the bad ones.  And sometimes we don't want to feel the good ones either, because we're scared of loving them too much before we inevitably lose them.

So instead, we run from our emotions, or fight them, or try to push them away. And where do we push them? Into our bodies.

I think. This is a theory I'm working on, anyway. I think we let our bodies carry the emotions we won't feel. (Or can't bear to feel.)

Like Balaam's Ass carrying the prophet, our bodies carry our feelings.

And sometimes the burden gets too heavy, and our bodies suddenly refuse. They stop, and fall down on their knees, and crush us against the wall.

Our bodies can carry our emotions for a while.

But not forever.

Eventually, we have to face what's in our hearts, we have to face the structure of our minds (that grew well or stunted in our youth), we have to face the formation of our souls.

And we have to begin the slow, hard work of learning what was bent in us, and how, and why, and where-do-we-go-from-here.

And it's to be hoped that we have wise counselors, mentors, psychologists, pastors, friends, spouses, etc., to help us in the process.

But you can't ask your body to bear your burdens forever. Eventually, everything you are will come out into the light.

Whether you want it to or not.

Your body can't bear it forever. It's finite. It just can't.

It will break down.

This is the way of bodies.

But these bodies are not forever.

By the grace of God, by faith in Christ, our hearts will be whole, and they will have whole bodies to bear them.

We hope for a better resurrection.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory? 
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
-1 Corinthians 15:50-58 

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell


Gabe Moothart said...

Most of this sounds exactly right. But I didn't get the transition to the resurrection; it sounded to me like you're looking forward to the resurrection because our new bodies will be better able to tolerate all the repressed emotional crud that we shove down into them.

But, that can't be right :-)

Jessica Snell said...

ah! - no! That would be bad.

:) Thanks for pointing out the unintentional implication there. No . . . just that my musing on brokenness led me to think of the hoped-for wholeness we look forward to.

becca said...

Thanks for these thoughts, Jess!
On the resurrected bodies... I don't think that just because we have perfected bodies we won't have emotion*. It seems maybe we will, in our continuing growth**, learn to be better at understanding/dealing with them. Also, in our repaired state, we will be freed from jealousy, hatred, anger, and other "emotional crud"***.

*Not that you're implying that, just want to negate that implication in Gabe's comment.
**I hope we continue to grow, it seems to be the sort of creatures we are, so it seems likely to me.
***Or maybe we won't, but we'll repent and turn as soon as we feel those, rather than stuff them down.

Jessica Snell said...

Thanks, Becca!

Yes, I imagine both that we'll have emotions (it seems pretty clear we will be rejoicing in the presence of God) and I think we'll keep growing, too.

I just love the idea of having both a body and emotions that will rightly respond to what is set before them. But I'm also fascinated now by how our bodies and our hearts - both broken - effect (affect? aa!) each other.

The older I get, the more I see how intertwined the physical and the emotional are. Not in a "be happy and your cancer will be cured!" sort of way. But in a "I can't allow my body to dictate my choices" and "I can't allow my choices to put burdens on my body that my body cannot bear."