image of Jesus with lit candles in front of it

Following Jesus’ emotional example and learning from His humanity

Have you ever read a passage from the Gospel and asked yourself, “I wonder what Jesus was feeling in this passage? What emotions was he experiencing here?”⁣⁣⁠

(I would be willing to bet it isn’t all that often.)

For some reason, it’s easy to forget that Jesus actually felt things as we tend to gloss over the real experience of Jesus. 

⁠In his humanity, he knew what it was to feel sadness, joy, and amusement … the sting of rejection, anger, apprehension… ⁣⁣⁠

To have friends, to be rejected and shamed, to feel the need to get away from crowds for private prayer time, to experience deep sorrow at death – Jesus knew what it was to feel these things experientially.  

Through the Incarnation, our God knows what it is to be human, which means He knows what it is to feel things emotionally. 

Jesus is also our model and exemplar who teaches us how to be human ourselves, so it’s important to try to understand how he lived out his humanity so that we know how to best live ours.

Jesus positioned his emotions just as he did with everything else in his life: in right relationship with his love of God. No matter how much he loved other people, no matter how strong his feelings, we know that He put God first. It was from that grounding in his relationship with the Father that his stability, his peace, his mission, his purpose. 

When do our emotions become problematic? When we ruminate.

Finding peace: embracing Jesus’ approach to emotions and faith

Our minds turn our feelings into new thoughts – a chain of thoughts, each linked to the next – which take us out of the present moment and into new (imagined) scenarios that create more intense emotions. (We’re frequently not even that aware that this is happening.) 

In this rumination, we lose our peace. 

In these times, we can connect to Jesus, realizing that even in the experience of all of his human emotions, he was completely and totally abandoned to God the Father and his providence in every aspect of his life. Following his example, we can put into practice doing the same in our emotional life. 

We can acknowledge the emotion, accept it, and let ourselves feel it. Then, we can choose to prioritize God, firmly planting ourselves in our belief in His presence. Lastly, we can let it go.

Let your emotions come, and then let them go.

We have a Father who loves us, and we can rest in his promise that He is working all things out for our good. 

“Do not be anxious about the things of your life. Don’t you know how much the Father loves you?”

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