Feelings and emotions are things that we tend stray away from or try to hide as best as we can. We fall into these questions when certain emotions arise: should I be feeling this? Is this good or bad? Is this even from God? As Catholics, many tend to have this misconception that we have bad emotions and good emotions, and the bad emotions should not be expressed, or are even sinful in their nature. These assumptions…could not be further from the truth.
When God created us, he also created our emotions, all of our emotions. Before the fall, everything was in perfect harmony, perfect order and perfectly integrated. After the fall…it all became a chaos and that harmony, order and integration was lost. That did not, however, change the nature of our emotions. They still are, and always are, good because they were created by God. The point where an emotion can turn sinful lies in our REACTION to the emotion. Our emotions are out of our control, in the sense that we cannot decide when to feel something or how to feel something. They come suddenly and without us knowing. If we win an award we don’t think “Oh I will feel happy now” in order to stimulate the emotion of feeling happy. Happiness and joy automatically come on their own when they are triggered. The same goes with emotions like anger, sadness or jealousy. If we are hurt by something, those emotions naturally are triggered in our heart. It’s not the feeling of the emotion that is a sin, but how we now react to it after we have acknowledged it. If we chose to lash out with our words, or physically harm the person who hurt us, or act upon that emotion in a wrong way, then yes now it has turned into a sinful act.
Many people get very caught up especially with anger and jealousy, and are convinced that even feeling this emotion is sinful. One can even say, well anger and jealousy are two of the seven deadly sins. Yes, they are, however it is the ACT of anger or the ACT of jealousy that is the sin, not the feeling itself. If someone hurt you in the past, maybe it was your parents, a friend or a significant other, it is natural to feel angry. It’s ok to acknowledge that feeling in us, and it is something that we should do rather than shove it down with the fear that it’s not Catholic to feel angry. God is always trying to speak to us and teach, even through the use of our feelings. Many times these so called “bad” emotions arise in us because they trigger something deeper than the situation itself. Something that we have been carrying in our hearts for months, maybe years. Allow those feelings to be a guiding light to whatever weight you still carry in your heart. Find the root of the negative feeling and place it at the foot of the cross. Allow God to heal you from whatever you carry.
It’s ok to feel (just do not let it take hold of you. Bring it to Christ).
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