by Mary Hamilton
I rarely make it through the Star Spangled Banner without choking up. How Great Thou Art gets me every time, too. I’m not generally an emotional person, so it’s kind of embarrassing when it happens at church where I’m surrounded by people. Or worse, at the beginning of a sporting event. Who cries at the beginning of a football game? Afterward maybe, if your team lost, but not before the game even starts.
As I said, I’m not an emotional person. I don’t trust my emotions. They’ve betrayed me too many times, becoming attached to things instead of people, inappropriate responses to people and situations, etc. Based on my experience, I tend to ignore my feelings, pay little attention to them. Maybe that’s why they tend to sneak up on me in ambush. Like when I was driving my car on the freeway the other day and listening to the song Set Me Free by Casting Crowns. The song uses the point of view of the man possessed by a legion of demons, whose story is told in the Gospels. One day, Jesus meets him and sets him free from the bondage of the voices inside his head, the control of destructive impulses. The song builds to a pounding intensity that always reminds me of my need for freedom from the bondage of sin, and the incredible gift of Christ’s forgiveness that sets me free. Sure enough, my throat choked on the words, my eyes clouded with tears. Not a good thing when you’re hurtling through traffic at 65 mph.
Afterward, I thought about my emotional response to that song. It made me want to fall to my knees in worship. I know faith should not depend on our feelings but an emotional response of worship seems so much better, so much more authentic and sincere than the stoic approach to faith and worship I learned growing up. Come to think of it, the verses that stimulate emotion for me are the ones I tend to remember best. The lessons learned through deep emotion stay with me longer.
As I stood in worship yesterday morning, the Spirit whispered there is a place for emotions with faith. Rather than something to hide and ignore, emotions are a gift to bring me into deeper relationship with the God who desires a personal relationship with me. Love isn’t always a feeling, but feeling love makes it more fun, takes it deeper. I’m asking God to free my emotions to respond more freely to His movement in my life.
How about you? Leave a comment and tell me what song or songs bring you to tears every time you hear it?